The Kyle Fuller injury situation may be grimmer than we imagined.
WGN’s Adam Hoge and others have begun to report that Fuller, the Bears’ top cornerback, will likely be out for the rest of the preseason as he battles a nagging knee injury.
#Bears CB Kyle Fuller (knee) is not expected to play the rest of the preseason, per source. Hope is that he'll be back Week 1 in Houston.
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) August 18, 2016
While the hope is that Fuller will be ready for the start of the regular season, this news, along with the continuing doubt about the return date for outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, could put a damper on the optimism surrounding the revamped defense.
The corner position was already thin before the Fuller news dropped. Now, the Bears are in serious trouble.
Tracy Porter, who is 30 years old and hardly a world beater, now becomes the team’s top cover corner, with the unproven trio of Jacoby Glenn, Deiondre’ Hall, and De’Vante Bausby jockeying for snaps on the opposite side.
Nickel corner Bryce Callahan could also get looks on the outside during the preseason, though he wasn’t exactly impressive in that role last week. To make matters even more unfortunate, however, he’s also been banged up lately, sitting out with what was called a “muscle strain” Tuesday and Wednesday. He is reportedly unlikely to suit up tonight, though Demontre Hurst has experience backing him up at nickel.
Tracy Porter resigns with the Bears. He allowed a passer rating of 107.2 when quarterbacks targeted his coverage. pic.twitter.com/km0LRb7hCm
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 9, 2016
And what happens if Fuller’s knee either keeps him out of action or clearly limits him come the start of the season? Sure, he’s not a great player, but he can be at least average as a starter. Can the Bears rely on one of their rookies to become a reliable starter so soon?
Most of the attention this week has been on Glenn, an undrafted free agent out of UCF, who reportedly saw action with the #1 defense this week. According to ChicagoBears.com’s Larry Mayer, he will probably get the first crack at the starting job opposite Porter tonight.
After a strong first showing against the Broncos—knocking down two passes in the end zone—Hall will probably get some time with the first unit as well to see if he can improve on last week’s performance, especially with his press coverage. Here’s what Hall had to say to the Chicago Sun Times:
“Losing at the line, that was my biggest point of emphasis. Getting hands on those receivers at the point of attack. Lost out on that.”
Hall also mentioned that he probably could’ve done a better job of getting his head around and going for an interception on his two pass breakups, which could hopefully lead to the young cornerback having an even greater impact in the games to come.
Let’s also keep an eye on Bausby, who actually was first up at cornerback along with Hall to take the field with the #2 defense. He was listed directly behind Fuller on the depth chart at left corner, so it’s possible that stick with the depth chart and let him start off.
Last time we talked about this, it was only a matter of figuring out who would replace Fuller for this week. Now, we might actually have to prepare for the former first-round pick being less than healthy going into the season. Depending on the severity of the injury, they might not be able to count on him to produce at his accustomed level this season.
For a team that really is looking for its defense to carry its offense, having one of its starting cornerbacks hampered by injury with little depth behind him is bad news for the Bears.