Bears Lose Bradley for the Year

Lake Forest - Against Detroit, Mark Bradley proved why the Bears thought he was worthy of the 39th overall pick in April's draft. However in his best game as professional, a 13-yard reception proved to be unlucky.

Bradley came into the matchup against the Lions with 13 receptions for 142 yards. He had started the last four games and seemed to be developing into a threat opposite Muhsin Muhammad. He took a major step forward on Sunday with a career high five catches for 88 yards, but the final reception proved to be costly.

The six-foot-1, 200-pound Bradley tried to elude Andre Goodman as he cut across the field by leaping over him and came down awkwardly on the Ford Field turf. He tumbled to the ground and immediately grabbed his right knee in pain.

The training staff didn't waste a lot of time before bringing the cart out for Bradley. Head coach Lovie Smith confirmed the team's worst fear following an MRI.

"It's his ACL. He'll be out the remainder of the season," Smith said.

"Tough break for Mark. He was having a super game, his coming-out party you could say really. But he'll get back and hopefully come back strong next year."

With Bradley done for the year and Bernard Berrian sidelined 6-8 weeks following thumb surgery, the Bears are down to four healthy receivers on the 53-man roster.

Fifth-round pick Airese Currie has been on the non-football injury list, but could begin practicing with the team on Wednesday. The speedy wideout from Clemson has been recovering from surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot.

The team could also look outside the organization to find a veteran option, but at this point of the season there isn't a lot to choose from. Freddie Mitchell and Curtis Conway are among the biggest names currently available.

"We're going to keep all options open right now," Smith said. "Airese Currie is an option that we have. But we'll as we do any time we need any position, we'll look at everything that's available, but we have a good football player right here in Airese Currie."

Bradley's season ends with 18 receptions for 230 yards. His 12.8 yards per catch is the highest on the team among players with double-digit reception totals.

"He has a great future ahead of him," Smith said. "It's a setback for him, but he'll come back from it. But still it's hard when you see a young player go down like that. But that's the hand that's been dealt, so we'll just kind of go from there."

The Bears are in a better position to handle injuries at certain positions than they were when 12 players finished the season on Injured Reserve a year ago.

Still Muhammad is the only proven commodity the Bears have at receiver. The team will now have to turn to Justin Gage, Bobby Wade and Carl Ford to fill the void. The trio has combined for 10 receptions for 131 yards through seven games.

Gage doubled his season reception total against Detroit with two grabs for 47 yards. He will need to continue that type of down field presence for the offense to succeed.

"We have other receivers that have played this year for us and it's time for all of them to step up," Smith said. "When somebody goes down, someone else has to step up and we have guys that can step up."


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