Bears’ WR Kevin White’s Rookie Season Over Before It Starts?

Kevin White’s rookie season might be over before it gets started. Just days after the Chicago Bears’ wide receiver began running on a grass surface, team general manager Ryan Pace informs reporters that the No. 7 pick of this year’s NFL Draft has suffered a stress fracture in his left shin. White will soon undergo surgery to have his left shin repaired, but now his first NFL season may be in jeopardy.

Kevin White will remain on the P.U.P. list (physically unable to perform) for the time being. The Bears are hoping that White can make his debut at some point near the end of the season. There will be several things that factor into the equation of a return.

The Bears could essentially pull the plug on White’s rookie season, giving him a full year to get healthy, stronger, and better equipped to understand the offense. The team will have a few months to decide his fate as any player on the P.U.P. list must sit out a minimum of six games, the team’s first six games, and he cannot practice with the team.

Since Kevin White is currently on the preseason version of the P.U.P. list, he will be able to participate in team meetings and during film study. Had he practiced one time, the Chicago Bears would have to remove that distinction.

Now that it is announced that Kevin White will have surgery on his left shin the Bears can carry him over to the regular season physically unable to perform list. That will require him to sit the aforementioned first six Bears’ games. Afterwards, White can practice up to five weeks before he must be placed on the active roster, or season-ending injured reserve.

A possibility of Kevin White landing the short-term injured reserve list is unclear. It would allow him to return with the Bears at any time during the season, but it comes with a price.

Per NFL rules, a team can only place one player on the short-term injured reserve list per season. If the Chicago Bears were to place Kevin White on the short-term IR list and a player of a greater significance suffers from a short-term injury, that player would have to remain on the active roster. No team wants to enter a game a down a player or two. Jay Cutler can suffer from a hamstring pull with a slated recovery period of four weeks. If Kevin White is on the short-term injured reserve list, Cutler would have to sit on the active roster forcing the Bears to make a tough roster decision. No team wants to be in this kind of bind, let alone a retooling Chicago Bears team.

The shin injury of Kevin White opens the door for someone to step up. Wide receivers Marquess Wilson and Josh Bellamy will get good opportunities at some playing time, but the one player to watch is undrafted rookie Cameron Meredith of Illinois State.

Meredith showed a good combination of speed, precise route-running, and catching ability in the Bears preseason victory over the Miami Dolphins. There was a trace of Victor Cruz, wide receiver for the New York Giants in Cameron Meredith’s performance. While it is only one game against inferior competition, Meredith fared well Thursday night. He should get more time in the remaining preseason games. A carryover of how he played in the first game could bode well for his future.

As for Kevin White’s immediate future, it will be spent recovering from a left shin injury that could cost him his season, though nothing will be determined until a later time.

[Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images Sport]