The injury to Chicago Bears‘ wide receiver Kevin White is a gift and a curse. White’s absence creates an opportunity for his Bears’ teammate Cameron Meredith. Within the next two games, everyone will find out if Meredith is ready to take on a larger load in the Bears’ offense. The Bears’ injury suggests that he will have to. And as the Bears’ coaches hope the second-year pass-catcher ascends, the darkening cloud known as Kevin White’s injury history keeps building.
Kevin White fractured his fibula after catching a pass during the Bears win versus the Detroit Lions. His injury was initially considered a high ankle sprain, but after a few more tests and X-rays, the fracture was discovered.
As a corresponding move the Bears officially placed Kevin White on the injured reserve list on Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson. It is the second consecutive season in which White has been placed on the IR, and it is highly likely that White’s season with the Bears is over after a brief four games.
Timing for Kevin White’s injury is the worst. White was starting to get comfortable with his route-running and finding his niche. It is safe to say that he was beginning to stop overthinking what he was supposed to be doing on the football field.
White began catching tough passes over the middle of the defense. It would be on one of those tough passes where his injury occurred. Unfortunately, the fractured fibula is on the same leg on which White suffered a fractured shin. Some NFL observers are beginning to question Kevin White’s durability, and the Bears for taking him seventh overall in the 2015 NFL draft.
The Chicago Sun-Times recently interviewed Dr. Neil Ghodadra, a sports orthopedic surgeon regarding Kevin Whites’s injury. He offered a suggested timeframe that the Bears’ receiver could be sidelined.
“Sometimes in our athletes we tend to operate quickly and put plates and screws in because at least you know that the bone is back to anatomic alignment. Sometimes it can speed you up in the process. But overall for this type of injury, you’re still looking at six to eight weeks no matter which direction you go, conservative or surgical.”
White is the first-ever draft pick for Chicago Bears’ general manager Ryan Pace. They will be tied together for a long time.
Showing flashes isn’t enough for anyone, let alone the Bears, to be satisfied with what Kevin White has done so far. The small sample size has not been enough to whet the appetite yet. Conversely, Cameron Meredith has the chance to do a bit more.
Cameron Meredith made the Bears last season as an undrafted rookie, and he has impressed the Bears’ coaching staff ever since.
What Meredith has is size. The Bears list him at 6’3″, which is the same height as star Alshon Jeffery. Like Jeffery, Meredith can make a couple of tough catches in the middle of the field, as well as along the sidelines.
The important thing for Meredith and the Bears is that he get his share of the reps. The more times he spends on the field, the better he can become.
It is an interesting time for Cameron Meredith, who has 17 career receptions for 172 yards.
The aforementioned Alshon Jeffery is hurting, as is tight end Zach Miller. That leaves Eddie Royal as the lone healthy pass-catcher among the starters.
Cameron Meredith will either make his first start with the Chicago Bears on Sunday or come in when the Bears decide to play three receivers. Both Jeffery and Royal will receive the bulk of the defensive attention, leaving Meredith with an abundance of opportunities to prove himself.
There is one silver lining to Kevin White’s injury — the Bears are forced to evaluate and groom Cameron Meredith.
Alshon Jeffery can hit NFL free agency if the Chicago Bears do not place the franchise tag on him for a second season. If Meredith can prove that he can be a reliable receiver, the Bears could be inclined to let Jeffery walk. The potential savings could go on upgrading the defense, leaving the next draft for the Bears to fill in the blanks. Another wide receiver will have to be added, the Bears can go completely young with a unit led by Royal, who would help teach whomever the Bears bring in.
It will all hinge on how Cameron Meredith responds to the extra reps. His first long look in a Chicago Bears’ uniform comes against a shaky Indianapolis Colts pass defense. That should make Meredith a sneaky play in fantasy football leagues as well.
[Featured Image by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]