Chicago Bears wide receiver Marquess Wilson hurt his foot yesterday and was held out from today's session.
"He hurt his foot on the last play of practice yesterday," head coach John Fox said.
We'll know more tomorrow about Wilson's potential for playing this week against the San Francisco 49ers. Fellow wide receiver Eddie Royal again missed practice with his lingering knee issue.
Wilson is the second player to hurt himself on the final snap of practice, following Antrel Rolle, who hurt his knee on the last play of a Saturday practice two weeks ago.
Matt Forte was not present during the portion of practice open to the media, yet he did participate later in the session.
"He had a personal thing. He actually had a child," Fox said. "But he was back at practice."
This is Forte's second child, as he and his wife Danielle have a two-year-old named Nala.
Against the Packers, the Bears ran the ball 27 times with the running backs: 15 carries for Matt Forte, 12 carries for Jeremy Langford. The duo combined for 92 rushing yards and a touchdown in a backfield timeshare that will likely continue the rest of the season.
"I wish we could just get more plays in a game, so both those guys could get more touches," offensvie coordinator Adam Gase said. "But both of those guys splitting the load like that, we can keep them fresh and just constantly, that run game’s going to be … We should only get better from here on out and those guys will get in the flow of it. That’s the hardest thing. You don’t want to have three-and-outs where they’re kind of in and out. You want to try to give them a little rhythm and you need to have an 8- to 12-play drive for that to happen."
The two running backs switched series against Green Bay. It was an effective approach, although Fox said it wasn't by design and that things could change going forward depending on the flow of the game.
"It’s not a preconceived idea," Fox said.
For quarterback Jay Cutler, the benefits of two multi-talented running backs are numerous.
"It was big. We’ve used it in the past. Hopefully we’ve got some stuff going in for them in the future," said Cutler. "They’re both explosive backs. Both very good in protection and both very good pass catchers. There’s a huge advantage there for us being able to get them matched up on backers and safeties and hopefully be able to get them the ball."
Sputtering Rushing Attack
Despite two versatile running backs, the Bears have averaged just 3.3 yards per carry the past two games. For right tackle Kyle Long, there's a few simple ways to jumpstart the run game.
"Blocking the defensive line and the linebackers and sometimes blocking the safety," Long said.
"A lot of teams will echo this. A lot of offensive lines would echo the fact that they’re very close in the running game, which is true. You look at the film, it’s a missed block here or an assignment here, or something as small as putting my hat here as opposed to putting it here. That’s across the board. If you get all the guys doing the right thing, it’s all rainbows."
Gase said the quality of the team's two recent opponents played a big role in the struggles of the run game.
"Playing Denver, there’s not too many teams that run the ball. I don’t even think new England got in double digits as far as run attempts," said Gase. "The fact that we tried to stick with it, and we were working for efficiency. Sometimes you might say second-and-two and we get three, that’s an efficient run for us because we got a first down, we’re moving the sticks. So in this last week, it was tough sledding, now. that was a good football team. they’ve been playing well on defense. They’ve been stopping the run. The week before, they did a pretty good job on a pretty good back. So I feel like we are making strides. We just need to have one of those breakout games where we can really look at that stat sheet and say, we really did have 130 yards rushing on so many attempts and our yards per carry were this and our efficiency. We’re looking for that gain. We’re working toward that, and hopefully we’ll hit it eventually."
Preparing for White's Return
First-round receiver Kevin White practiced in individual drills for the second day in a row today and did not appear limited by his left shin.
It's still unclear if he'll play this season but if he does, the Bears will be ready to use him.
"Yeah, I try to think what would be the right thing to use him for," Gase said. "You know when you’re a first-year player in the league, you’re not going to grasp everything right away. So especially with the limited time that we’ve had him, it’s what should we do with him if he does get out there. And what’s going to be the best thing that he can do to help contribute. So in the back of my head, every time I’m watching to see what’s going to be best for him if we get that opportunity."
The Bears face the 49ers on Sunday, the team for whom Vic Fangio was the defensive coordinator the past four years. While there has been some turnover in personnel, no one knows San Francisco's defense like Fangio, of which Gase took advantage.
“Anytime you play a team that you have coaches on the staff that have been around that personnel, you are absolutely going to use that your advantage," said Gase. "I go to Vic a lot more than for just this team because the knowledge he has of guys in the NFL is unbelievable, whether it be scheme or players.”