Chicago Bears wide receiver Marquess Wilson, who broke his collarbone in training camp, has been on Injured Reserve all season, with a designation to return. He practiced today for the first time since the injury.
“I feel pretty good,” Wilson said after practice. “It felt good getting back in the swing of things and getting around the guys and actually practicing a little. I feel my wind was pretty good for the most part and just looking to improve each day I’m out here.”
Wilson practiced in full but it’s still unclear when he’ll return to the active roster. The team has 21 days from today to either activate him or put him on permanent IR.
“Marquess was out there, got some work during practice, got a little work after practice,” Marc Trestman said. “His 21-day clock will start today and it'll be day-to-day with him to see how he progresses. It'll be up to the trainers and the doctors to assess him on a daily basis.”
Wilson could conceivably play this Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, which could provide a boost to an anemic offense. Yet that appears unlikely at this point.
“I can't say that today. Again, we're just going to go one day at a time on this and make sure that he's in the physical kind of condition he needs to be in,” said Trestman. “He's taken enough reps in practice to make sure that he can perform. He's got a great career ahead of him and we want to make sure we're doing the right thing.”
Wilson said the biggest hurdle in getting back to full speed is conditioning.
“Probably just my wind, that’s the big thing,” he said. “The fear is all mental, so once I get over that stage, it’s a piece of cake, but just getting my wind back.”
Wilson has just two career catches but the chemistry he developed with Jay Cutler during training camp, along with his penchant for making plays in Bourbonnais, has many in Chicago hopeful he can bring life back to the offense. For a former seventh rounder with just 10 games experience, that’s asking a lot.
In reality, the big dogs – Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery – will still be doing the heavy lifting in the second half of the season. If Wilson can add a little extra to the offense, even better, but he’s far from a savior.
“You’ve got everything you need with Brandon, Alshon, Marty [Martellus Bennett] and Matt [Forte],” said Wilson. “It wouldn’t hurt to have another person. You’ve got Santonio Holmes and Josh Morgan, those two are fully capable of coming through and making plays when needed. You just have a lot of offensive weapons on this team that are just waiting to have their turn.
“We’re still a great offense. We still have special weapons on that side of the ball. We have all the confidence in the world to pull it back together and come together as a team.”
FINAL YEAR FOR BRIGGS
Lance Briggs believes Sunday night is likely the last time he’ll play at Lambeau Field as a member of the Monsters of the Midway.
“This is probably my last year as a Chicago Bear,” Briggs said today. “And this could be the last time I play the Packers.”
Briggs said he’s not sure if his career will be over after this season. Yet he turns 34 next week, so obviously the end is in sight.
“Somebody has got to want you first and then you go from there,” said Briggs. “It's the last year of my deal. It's not like I'm going to magically show up after this year and they're going to open the gates up for you. I've talked to my buddy Alex Brown - those gates are closing when you're a free agent. I know the reality of it.”
He said the fact he’s nearing the end will make Sunday’s contest that much more memorable.
“It was fun. I've had great battles at Lambeau - really, really great battles and I'll never forget it,” he said. “I scored my first touchdown at Lambeau - back in 2003 with Brett Favre. That's memorable - very, very memorable. I remember the ball sailing up and I remember getting twirled around and him just hurling the ball up and into the air. It felt like it was in the air forever and I was just saying, 'Lance, please don't drop this’.”
Briggs is a seven-time Pro Bowler and a five-time All Pro. He’ll surely be considered for Canton once his career ends in eight weeks.
“I'm proud of all the years I've had here. It's been great,” Briggs said. “I couldn't have asked for a better situation.”
SLAUSON STILL ON ACTIVE ROSTER
Bears GM Phil Emery last week declared guard Matt Slauson out for the season with a torn pectoral. Nine days after that press conference, Slauson still has not been put on IR. Trestman offered little explanation as to why Slauson is still on the roster.
“You know that'll be again a day-to-day thing,” Trestman said. “There's a lot of reasons behind that but it'll be one day at a time with Matt right now. Obviously he won't be playing this week.”
That sounds like there’s a remote chance Slauson could return this season. That’s highly doubtful but it’s clear the team is still undecided as to the best course of action with their starting left guard.
“He went back to the right side today and we'll continue to move him around but he was on the right side,” Trestman said. “We had Mike playing guard today."
With Slauson out, offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer is using this week to decide how he’ll shape the offensive line going forward. Mills has struggled at right tackle this season, allowing five sacks through eight games, so change could be necessary.
“We're going to give him work at both spots and we're going to re-assess practice and we'll see how we move tomorrow,” said Trestman.
Lance Briggs was honest when asked about the key to beating the Packers in Lambeau last season.
"Shea [McClellin] took out Aaron Rodgers,” Briggs said, laughing.
Rodgers currently leads the NFL in passer rating (113.6) and is first in the NFC in passing touchdowns (19). With the Packers at home coming off a loss to the New Orleans Saints, an injury could be the only thing that stops Rodgers on Sunday night.
"We were playing a good game up to that point,” said Briggs. “But that was early in the game and a guy like him, you never count him out. You can play good defense the whole game – I've played good defense against him for 58 minutes out of the game and the last minute, he throws a bomb and they win the game. You have to be on your toes for the whole 60.”
Rodgers threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns in the Week 4 meeting between the two teams.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.