Chicago Bears at Indianapolis Colts: 5 Things to Watch for
Dec 21, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Marquess Wilson (10) looks to get around Detroit Lions cornerback Rashean Mathis (31) during the first quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
What wide receivers will step up?
The wide receiver corps is starting to resemble the horrifying days of a washed up Muhsin Muhammad and Bernard Berrian. White’s out for a while, and NBC Sports reported that Jeffery, who missed the first week against Miami, won’t play this week.
That leaves Eddie Royal, Marquess Wilson and a bunch of players normally referred to as “other guys.” Royal is a known commodity. Good hands, good speed, good routes, can work outside or inside as a slot receiver. He’s got chemistry with quarterback Jay Cutler. He’s going to contribute this season no matter what.
Wilson is the logical other choice, but I’m not sold on him.
Oct 20, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Marquess Wilson (10) runs with the ball as Washington Redskins free safety David Amerson (39) makes the tackle in the third quarter at FedEx Field. The Redskins won 45-41. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
As I’ve said before, I’m always wary of the guys fans and the media highlight as “sleeper” candidates. Wilson was a non-factor in his rookie season, when he received little playing time. Last year, the hype was ridiculous for a guy who had done nothing besides train with Brandon Marshall for an offseason, and then Wilson unfortunately fractured his clavicle. He rehabbed, and then contributed next to nothing in seven games in 2014, catching 17 passes on 32 targets for 140 yards. In the Miami game this preseason, he was targeted once, catching the pass for six yards.
Aug 13, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) warms up prior to a preseason NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
While the tendency is to blame Cutler for locking onto targets – which he does – I’m question Wilson’s ability to separate from defenders. With White and Jeffery out, this is his chance to shine, and I expect the coaching staff and Cutler will give him every chance to do so. I’m not expecting much.
More intriguing are the players who flashed ability in more playing time against Miami, including Cameron Meredith and Rashad Lawrence. Both showed good speed and good hands working with Jimmy Clausen after the starters exited the game. Meredith, a rookie, caught four passes for 47 yards, while Lawrence, a second-year player, caught three passes for 25 yards on seven targets.
Both Meredith and Lawrence deserve the chance to work in with the starters against the Colts, and show if they can do anything more than contribute on special teams for the Bears this season. With White likely out for a large chunk, if not all of, the season, the Bears are looking for fourth and fifth wide receivers. Jeffery will be the one and Royal the second wide receiver, while Wilson will likely be the third option. Meredith and Lawrence are both in position to seize that fourth wide receiver spot while White’s out.
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