Chicago Bears place wide receiver Kevin White on injured reserve
The injury epidemic that has plagued the Chicago Bears through the first quarter of the season got worse Wednesday.
Wide receiver Kevin White was placed on injured reserve with a fractured left fibula and severely sprained ankle. He was hurt in Sunday's 17-14 victory over the Detroit Lions, a game in which he caught 6 passes for 55 yards and which coach John Fox called White's best of the season.
White missed his entire rookie season last year following surgery for shin splints. His latest injury is unrelated, according to the team. It came as the 6-foot-3, 216-pound White was quickly making up for last year's missed time.
"He's improved every week," Fox said. "It's disappointing for him and for us, but mostly for him. I saw a little more aggressiveness (against the Lions). He cut loose and played, rather than thinking, like most young players."
The Bears and White will get a second opinion to determine if surgery is the best course of action. He has not been ruled out for the entire season, but even in the best-case scenario White could not return for eight weeks.
The specific injury is a spiral fracture of the left fibula, the smaller, non-weight-bearing bone in the lower leg. It occurs when the bone is twisted, and the fracture resembles a spiral. White's injury occurred as a Lions defender fell on his lower leg while he was running after a catch.
The surgery he had in August 2015 also was on the left leg, but it was on the tibia, the larger, weight-bearing bone in the lower leg.
"We're looking at the different types of treatment," Fox said. "Whether it (requires) surgery, and getting (second) opinions. There is an opportunity we could get him back this year later in the season."
White, the seventh overall pick in the 2015 draft, has a team-best 19 receptions on the season, along with 187 yards, third on the Bears.
The initial diagnosis Sunday was a high ankle sprain but further observation revealed the fracture. "He was obviously down," Fox said of White's state of mind.
Quarterback Brian Hoyer, expected to start his third straight game in place of injured Jay Cutler, visited White in the Halas Hall training room Wednesday.
"I said, 'You've made so many strides in the past few weeks, keep your head up and work hard and see where it takes you,' " Hoyer said.
White's injury is the latest in a lengthening list of Bears maladies. He was just one of 16 players on Wednesday's injury report, seven of whom did not practice at all. He is the 10th Bear to go on injured reserve.
Fox had to go back more than a decade to recall a similar run of medical misfortune.
"I think back in '04 we had about 18 guys on IR," said Fox, who then was Carolina Panthers head coach. "I think that kind of broke the record, and I'm not sure you can even get close to that one, but we're still early."
With White unavailable, Cam Meredith is expected to see more playing time, along with Josh Bellamy.
"It's definitely an unfortunate situation for a good teammate," Meredith said of White. "Hopefully he gets back out here as soon as possible. Right now, I've just got to step up and be ready."
Meredith, from St. Joseph's High School in Westchester, was undrafted out of Illinois State in 2015 before signing with the Bears. He spelled White after the injury and caught 4 passes for 28 yards.
"He's a guy we have confidence in," Fox said of Meredith. "He wouldn't be on our team if we didn't have confidence in him."
The 6-foot-3, 207-pounder presents a big target, much like the 6-3, 216-pound White, but does not have the same 4.35 speed.
"I've been impressed with Cam," Hoyer said. "The one (24-yard catch) in Dallas where he went up and snatched it, and he had a good catch on one of the rollouts (Sunday) where he went up and grabbed it. He's going to get his opportunity to step up, and I think he's made strides to be ready for that opportunity."
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