The Chicago Bears this afternoon activated wide receiver Marquess Wilson from the injured reserve/designated to return list. Wilson, who broke his collarbone during training camp, returned to practice last week.
“We practiced with him the last couple of days and I think he looks great,” Jay Cutler said this week. “He’s still a little bit shaky just getting back into it, but I thought he had a better day today than he had yesterday.”
Before the injury, Wilson was emerging as a legitimate playmaker as the club’s third wideout. Last year’s seventh rounder caught just two passes for 13 yards his rookie season but his combination of size (6-3) and speed was evident in Bourbonnais.
“I was talking to [quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh] about it, you forget how good he is as such a young player,” Cutler said. “We had him really going at training camp before he got hurt so we were really excited about him.”
Wilson is just 21 years old and was one of the most productive receivers in the Pac-12 his sophomore season (82 catches, 1,388 yards, 12 TDs) before abruptly ending his collegiate career the following year.
Yet despite his inauspicious departure from Washington State, which caused him to nearly fall out of the draft, Wilson still has plenty of playmaking potential at the NFL level.
The team this week waived Santonio Holmes, while Josh Morgan is doubtful due to a shoulder injury. That means Wilson could be immediately inserted as the club’s No. 3 option in the passing game this Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.
“The guy gets hurt and goes on IR and you kind of forget about him a little bit because you have to move on,” said Cutler. “So getting him back is a little bit of a boost for us. Morale wise and in the huddle he has fun, so it's fun to have him back.”
“He's a bigger guy but I think his route-running is a little bit different than 17 or 15. He's a little bit smoother, a little bit fluid in and out of cuts. He's got great body control, but he can still go up and get the ball, so he's a little bit of a different type of guy, which we kind of need.”
Wilson’s return couldn’t come at a better time, as Chicago’s passing attack has struggled of late. On fresh legs, adding him to the mix could provide the offense the spark it’s been searching for the past month.
“You’ve got everything you need with Brandon, Alshon, Martellus [Bennett] and Matt [Forte] but it wouldn’t hurt to have another person,” Wilson said last week.
Chicago offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer believes the offense is just one big play away from finding its rhythm. Under Marc Trestman, the Bears haven’t had much production from the third receiver spot. Yet with Wilson’s skill set, he could be the player that provides that big play and lights a fire under the offense.
“I’d hope so,” Wilson said. “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.”
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.