Monday, December 3, 2012
Lovie dismisses idea of adding veteran WR
By Jeff Dickerson
Brandon Marshall said his good friend Mike Sims-Walker would be hungry to produce for the Bears.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith dismissed the idea Monday of the club signing a veteran free-agent receiver due to a rash of injuries that have depleted the team's depth.
But Smith does expect to possibly have wideouts Alshon Jeffery and Devin Hester available when the Bears travel to Minnesota this weekend.
"We're going to go with the guys we have right now," Smith said. "We're going to get some guys back this week and we'll be fine."
Multiple sources have said that Jeffery is on track to rejoin the offense after missing the last two games with a minor knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery on Nov. 21. The Bears originally said Jeffery would be out 2-4 weeks following the procedure. The rookie wide receiver did some light running to test out the knee on Saturday and ran routes half-speed during pregame warmups before the Bears' 23-17 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Jeffery missed four games earlier in the season with a broken hand that did not require surgery.
Hester was forced to exit the Bears' victory over the Vikings on Nov. 25 due to a concussion and was not present at practice all of last week. But Hester was spotted at Soldier Field at the Seahawks' game and is said to be feeling better.
But the team took another hit over the weekend when receiver Earl Bennett also suffered a concussion and had to exit the game at halftime. Without Jeffery, Hester and Bennett for the entire second half, the Bears leaned on reserve wideouts Eric Weems (36 snaps) and Dane Sanzenbacher (16 snaps) to help fill the void at the position.
This lack of healthy bodies prompted Bears' leading receiver Brandon Marshall to suggest that the club should consider signing a veteran off the street before its next game.
"“It's tough," Marshall said. "There are guys that are hungry. You have Joe (Anderson), a guy on our practice squad, works really hard and he's really hungry right now. (I) Can't wait to see him. You have guys that aren't here. Free agents that are hungry. Guys like Mike Sims-Walker, my best friend, my brother. So maybe he gets a shot. There are guys that are hungry. It doesn't matter if it's Mike Sims-Walker that's on the street right now that's hungry or Joe Anderson who's hungry right now. We definitely will make the right decisions and move forward.”
However, Smith said the organization is not in favor of adding a veteran free-agent wideout.
"I think sometimes when you guys ask him about certain guys, I got a lot of old buddies and stuff too, but I think Brandon feels pretty good about the guys we have here that he is playing with," Smith said.
Smith did not provide in-depth updates on the statuses of middle linebacker Brian Urlacher (pulled hamstring) or cornerback Tim Jennings (shoulder), only that the Bears are still in the process of evaluating the injuries each sustained in overtime versus the Seahawks.
Urlacher pulled his right hamstring on the play just before Seattle's winning touchdown and immediately walked to the sideline to have his right leg wrapped by the team's training staff.
Smith said pulled hamstrings are difficult injuries to play through, even for a veteran like Urlacher, who has participated in all 16 regular season games in 10 of his first 12 NFL seasons.
"If you have an injury and you can't play, we take you out the game whenever that happens during the game," Smith said. "When it happened with Brian yesterday, that's when we took him out."
Jennings was on the bench of the final eight plays of overtime after he collided with Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson while trying to make a tackle near the Bears' sideline. Jennings declined to comment after the game but was in obvious pain while trying to dress in front of his locker. Jennings is scheduled to undergo further testing on Monday.