Bears Bit by Injury Bug

The Bears have spent months overhauling their off-season program in an attempt to keep players healthy, but injuries are bound to happen no matter what precautions are taken. Several players will go to training camp hobbled by injury, which leaves more than one position thin.

Upon arriving in Bourbonnais, the Bears will designate FB Bryan Johnson (foot) and CB Alfonso Marshall (knee) on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list. TE Desmond Clark (ankle), WR Airese Currie (foot), FB Jason McKie (pectoral) and DT Greg Pauly will begin training camp on the Active/Non-Football Injury list.

The Bears are suddenly thin at fullback with Johnson and McKie sidelined. McKie has the more serious of the two injuries. He tore his pectoral muscle while weight lifting earlier in the month. At this point it's unclear whether he'll miss a few weeks or months.

Johnson had surgery on his right foot toward the end of the 2004 campaign. While he was able to partake in mini-camp, he missed most of June with soreness in the foot.

The only healthy option at fullback currently on the roster is former undrafted free agent Keith Belton. He was signed off the Lions practice squad at the end of the season and will now open camp as the starter at fullback.

Clark had projected as the starting tight end coming into the season, but he missed the mini-camp and all of the June OTAs because of an ankle sprain. His continued absence leaves the competition at the position open.

Marshall blew out his knee midway through his rookie season. He's still recovering from surgery to repair a torn right ACL. He should be ready sometime during training camp.

Currie had surgery for a stress fracture on his left foot. The Bears doctors cleared him before the team took him in the fifth round of the draft. He expected to be cleared for practices in June, but that never happened. Now he will have to watch as the team begins practices on Sunday. With the amount of young receivers on the roster, the Bears may chose to put him on Injured Reserve if he doesn't get on the practice field in the coming weeks.

All six players still count towards the 80-man training camp roster limit and will be eligible to return to practice with the team upon passing a physical examination.


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