By Chris Emma–
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — Never one to mince words, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio made it clear what to expect of cornerback Kyle Fuller in this season’s final two games — not much.
In Fangio’s mind, it’s Fuller keeping himself from a return from injured reserve.
“Any time a guy is hurt, there’s three stages to get back to the field,” Fangio said Tuesday. “One is you got to get medical clearance. Two, the player’s got to say he’s ready to go, he feels confident and is champing at the bit to go play. And then the coaches get involved and see if he’s better than what the other choices are, and if he really is back to being ready to play. A has happened, B hasn’t, so C is a non-issue.”
The Bears declined to make Fuller available to reporters Tuesday after Fangio’s comments. The team has until 3 p.m. on Wednesday to activate Fuller to the 53-man roster. Otherwise, he will be shut down for the final two games.
Fuller had a knee scope on an injury back in August. He was moving slowly through practice, and a repair was deemed the best option. The Bears placed him on IR prior to Week 4, then used their single designation for a return on Fuller 20 days ago Tuesday, opening up a 21-day window for him to rejoin the team.
Now in his second season coaching Fuller, Fangio isn’t getting his hopes up on coaching the 2014 first-round pick this season. That’s for Fuller to make happen.
“Until it gets to that point,” said Fangio, “I try not to think about it too much.”
The 24-year-old Fuller was the pick of former Bears general manager Phil Emery. The 2017 season will mark the final year of a four-year deal and come after a lost season of performance, making it difficult for second-year general manager Ryan Pace, coach John Fox and Fangio to evaluate him.
Fuller had played each of his first 32 games prior to 2016. He has six career interceptions, three of which came in his first three NFL games.
Returning to action would be beneficial for Fuller, who hasn’t been able to impress the Bears’ current brass, though it won’t matter much after 14 games missed. As Fangio says, that decision is out of their hands.
“Well, I mean sometimes a small sample like you said and especially since he’s been out so long, you could get a false read, too, good or bad,” Fangio said. “Yeah, it’d be nice to get him out there. Anytime you’re out there, it’s always an evaluation opportunity for both him and everybody, but two-game sample may not always tell the truth.”