John Fox: Bears WR Markus Wheaton Needs To Show More

By Chris Emma–

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — Veteran receiver Markus Wheaton was brought to the Bears with the hopes that he could bring their offense a deep threat. He’s now healthy, but that hasn’t been enough to see the field.

Wheaton played just two offensive snaps a 23-16 loss to the Packers on Sunday, both coming late in the fourth quarter. He has played in four games this season, hauling in one reception for nine yards. Now, Wheaton has lost out on a job to newcomer Dontrelle Inman.

“The more he’s out there and can show the coaches what he can do, I think the better for him,” Fox said Monday at Halas Hall.

The 26-year-old Wheaton signed with the Bears in March on a two-year deal worth up to $11 million, with $6 million guaranteed. He has dealt with several misfortunes since joining the team. Early in training camp, Wheaton was forced to undergo an emergency appendectomy. Upon returning, he suffered a broken pinkie finger catching a pass.

Wheaton’s latest bad break came in October when he suffered a groin injury in practice. He missed three games, which in part led the Bears to acquire Inman from the Chargers for a conditional seventh-round pick. Wheaton returned to the practice field last Wednesday and was off the injury report by Thursday, but that wasn’t enough to get him a role with the offense.

Meanwhile, Inman made his mark in his Bears debut, hauling in six of eight targets and posting 88 yards while becoming a go-to target for rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

“I have a lot of confidence in him,” Trubisky said of Inman. “He’s made great plays for us, and he’s coming along really quick. It’s tough to get here on short notice and learn a playbook, so hats off to him for doing that.”

Extra point: Fox admitted the obvious Monday, that in hindsight he wouldn’t have called for a challenge on a second-quarter play that proved to be the turning point of the game Sunday. What Fox thought was a touchdown by Benny Cunningham as he dove for the pylon was ruled a fumble and touchback. The Bears potentially left seven points on the field in the seven-point loss.

“It’s a good question, a fair question,” Fox said when asked Monday. “Unfortunately, I can’t really respond exactly how I would like to. Obviously, in those situations, hindsight’s 20/20. I probably would not challenge that if I were given the opportunity  again. And we’ll leave it at that.”

Pressed further on the process of challenging the play, Fox was ready to move on.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

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