Bears Provide Crucial Injury Update on Rome Odunze for OTAs

Rome Odunze Injury Update Bears Injuries Chicago Bears News

Getty Bears wide receiver Rome Odunze remains out at OTAs with a hamstring issue.

The Chicago Bears are expecting to have first-round rookie wide receiver Rome Odunze back on the practice field when they resume OTAs this week.

Odunze — the No. 9 overall selection in 2024 — has not practiced for the Bears since experiencing hamstring tightness following the first day of rookie minicamp on May 10. He did not participate in the second and final day of minicamp or any of the team’s first three OTA practices last week for “precautionary” reasons, per NBC Sports Chicago.

Fortunately, Bears head coach Matt Eberflus said he is “hopeful” that Odunze will be able to start ramping up again when the team practices next on Tuesday, May 28.

“Rome’s starting to work out there, did some walk-throughs today,” Eberflus told reporters after last Thursday’s practice. “We’re hopeful that he’ll be starting to ramp back in there next week during the OTAs that we have next week.”

The Bears will still have veterans DJ Moore and Keenan Allen to take reps with rookie quarterback Caleb Williams as Odunze works back up to full strength, but getting him back in the fold will be crucial for their offense. He has the potential to be their star of the future at the position after catching 92 passes for an FBS-leading 1,640 yards and 13 touchdowns for Washington in 2023. More time working with Williams will only help.

The Bears will have six more practices before breaking until training camp in late July. They will close out OTAs with three voluntary practices (May 28-29, May 31) this week and then wrap up offseason work with a mandatory minicamp next week (June 4-6).

Bears Don’t Need to Rush Rome Odunze to Stardom

A healthy Rome Odunze is good for the Chicago Bears. He is a top-10 pick and one of the most highly-rated receiver prospects in recent NFL drafts. The Bears felt so strongly about him that they nearly traded up from the ninth pick in fear of possibly missing out.

That said, the Bears do not have to rush Odunze into becoming the NFL’s next star.

Odunze could — and probably should — play a key role for the Bears offense in 2024, but he is currently just their third-best receiver in the rotation. Moore returns as the Bears’ No. 1 receiver after catching 96 passes for 1,364 yards and eight touchdowns, all career-highs, in 2023. Chicago also traded for a six-time Pro Bowler in Allen, who is also coming off one of the best seasons of his long-tenured career with the Chargers.

Williams will have plenty of firepower on the perimeter between the two of them. He also has veteran tight end Cole Kmet and newly signed running back D’Andre Swift, each of whom brings an additional pass-catching element to the offense. Odunze will still get his share of looks, but the Bears won’t have to rely on force-feeding him targets.

Tyler Scott Could Be Secret Weapon for Bears in 2024

The Bears are (rightly) getting quite a bit of attention for their receiving additions this offseason. If Odunze can play right away and live up to his first-round potential, they could have the most potent receiving trio in the NFL by the end of the 2024 season. Amid all the buzz, though, Tyler Scott has mostly been forgotten — and he shouldn’t be.

Scott, a 2023 fourth-round pick, did not play a featured role in the rotation as a rookie. He had some opportunities where he showcased his speed, but he received two or fewer passing targets in 10 of his 17 games and finished just fifth on the team with 32 targets. Scott also made a few mistakes, such as the 3rd-and-9 deep ball he misjudged in Week 11’s loss to Detroit. Or the touchdown he couldn’t pull down against Atlanta in Week 17.

A second-year jump is not out of the question for Scott, though, even with much more competition in the receiver room for the 2024 season.

Bears general manager Ryan Poles cited Scott’s speed and ball-tracking ability as two of the reasons why he drafted him in 2023, comparing him to Seattle Seahawks star Tyler Lockett in an NFL+ interview last offseason. If Shane Waldron sees the similarities, too, perhaps he will have a more effective strategy for unlocking Scott’s deep-ball potential. He did, after all, coach and scheme for Lockett for the past three seasons in Seattle.

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