The Chicago Bears could spend an extended time without at least two of the wide receivers vying for starting roles.
N’Keal Harry, a former first-round draft pick, suffered a severe ankle injury on August 6, according to a tweet by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on August 7.
“Bears wide receiver N’Keal Harry suffered an ankle injury that appears severe but is awaiting further evaluation and hoping for the best, per source. Got hurt Saturday. Traded from New England, Harry was working on fresh start in Chicago,” Fowler wrote.
Chicago Tribune reporter Dan Wiederer was the first to report about the injury, writing that Harry, who was traded to the Bears from the New England Patriots on July 13, sustained “what appeared to be a significant left leg injury” during team drills. Harry was helped off the field by teammates and trainers and did not return for the rest of the session.
“I don’t know much, I just saw him come down,” head coach Matt Eberflus said about Harry’s injury. “I saw the play and don’t really know much from there. We’re obviously going to do the evaluation, and once I get that, we can get it back to you. If it’s a longer situation, we’ll let you know what it is. If it’s day-by-day, we’ll say that, too.”
The Bears held out three other receivers — Byron Pringle, Dante Pettis and third-round rookie Velus Jones Jr. — from camp practice on August 6 due to injuries. Eberflus told reporters after practice that Jones’ injury was something that the team would consider “day-to-day,” but he indicated the veteran Pringle could miss some time.
“Pringle [has] not timetable to return, but his is going to be a bit longer. He has a quad ]injury],” Eberflus told reporters. “You guys saw [second-round rookie cornerback Kyler] Gordon and Velus were out, [but] that’s just day-to-day. They’re with the trainers. They’ll be back when they can.”
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Bears Getting Dangerously Thin at WR
Depending on how much time both Jones and Pettis miss, the Bears could be looking at a stretch of practices where their receiving corps will be reduced to just Darnell Mooney, Equanimeous St. Brown, Tajae Sharpe, David Moore, Dazz Newsome, Nsimba Webster, Chris Finke and Isaiah Coulter. That’s not great considering the final three names on that list have yet to make their first career NFL reception.
Until general manager Ryan Poles decides to bring in more bodies, though, Eberflus and his coaching staff will maintain the next-man-up approach at practice.
“You’re always concerned about that,” Eberflus said of the injuries. “During camp, when you have this 90-man roster and guys go down with soft-tissue stuff or whatever it might be, you put workloads on other guys and those other guys have the opportunity to have more reps, so you have to be mindful of that. And we were. We’re mindful of that. We did shorten (practice) just a titch today, had a couple more water breaks in there just to get their legs back and get them going again. But the way the schedule is set up, we have a nice schedule where they’ve got a lot of time between every practice to get the information back but also get their bodies ready.”
Teven Jenkins Returns to Bears Practice
The Bears weren’t completely without positive injury news. After missing eight consecutive practices with an undisclosed injury, second-year offensive tackle Teven Jenkins returned to the field for the team’s first padded practice and began the process of adjusting back into a normal routine amid questions about his future.
Jenkins — the No. 39 overall pick in the 2021 draft — was originally expected to compete for one of the Bears’ starting tackle jobs, but the issue that kept him off the field has allowed Riley Reiff, Larry Borom and fifth-round rookie Braxton Jones to get a head start on building chemistry and learning the offense. Nevertheless, Jenkins told reporters he still believes there is a genuine opportunity for him to earn a meaningful role with the Bears heading into the 2022 season and is focused on doing so.
“Just in general, I’m here with the Chicago Bears right now,” Jenkins said after practice. “I”m here to play football for the Chicago Bears and that’s what I’m going to do and that’s what I plan on doing right now.”
Jenkins declined to provide details about the injury that sidelined him or whether it was related to the back issues that kept him out for most of his rookie season. He also said he didn’t have any comment about the supposed issues between him and the coaching staff, but he did add that he didn’t feel there was animosity between them.