Bears Update Jakeem Grant’s Status After Injury vs. Vikings

Jakeem Grant Injury

Getty Jakeem Grant #17 of the Chicago Bears runs for a first down against the Baltimore Ravens at Soldier Field on November 21, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. The Ravens defeated the Bears 16-13.

The Chicago Bears may need a new punt returner for the time being after losing Pro Bowl return specialist Jakeem Grant to a concussion during Week 15’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football.

Grant was knocked out of Monday’s 17-9 loss after slamming his head against the turf at the end of a 4-yard run on third down late in the second quarter. Grant had started falling at the end of his run and took a nasty shot to the back of his shoulder from Vikings defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson that blasted him against the ground.

Grant stayed out for the remainder of the first half to be evaluated for a concussion and was officially declared out for the rest of the way at the beginning of the second half.

Bears head coach Matt Nagy did not have much more to update about Grant’s status in the postgame, telling reporters only that he is in the league’s concussion protocol.

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Grant Has Developed Into Pro Bowl Weapon

Grant took a little while to find his footing with Chicago after getting traded in from Miami back in October, but the 29-year-old wide receiver has developed into a dynamic return weapon for the Bears over the past few months.

Grant is averaging the second-most yards (13.2) among punt returners with at least 20 returns this season and broke away for a 97-yard touchdown just last week against the Green Bay Packers. He has also been solid in his limited role for the offense with nine receptions for 139 yards and two touchdowns and five rushes for 33 yards, including a 13-yard dash he pulled off against the Vikings before leaving the game with his injury.

Earlier on Monday, the Bears announced Grant had been voted to the 2022 Pro Bowl as a return specialist alongside outside linebacker Robert Quinn. It is the first time in his six seasons in the NFL that he has been selected for a Pro Bowl roster; though, he was named a second-team All-Pro with the Dolphins during the 2020 season.

Bears Struggled After Grant’s Exit

The Bears didn’t have to wait long to feel the impact of subtracting Grant from the game plan. While they ended up scoring some of their only points of the night on the drive in which he sustained his concussion, the offense seemed to lose some of its trickery without him available. They also tried just one more receiver run on the night after rushing twice with Grant early on, gaining just three yards with Darnell Mooney.

The bigger problem, however, arose in Grant’s area of expertise: Punt returns.

Damiere Byrd took over punt return duties for the Bears after Grant was injured and managed to mess up on his first attempt at fielding the ball, allowing the ball to bounce off his hands and out of reach into a pile of ongoing players. Minnesota ended up recovering it at the Bears’ 37-yard line; though, they were fortunate to not give up any points despite the excellent field position it gave the Vikings.

If Grant ends up missing any playing time with his concussion, the Bears might want to consider using rookie running back Khalil Herbert for both kickoffs and punts. He averaged 30.5 yards on two kickoff returns against the Vikings and further showed off his good hands with three receptions for 34 yards on four targets from Justin Fields.

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