By Chris Emma–
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — When the Bears needed something — anything — in their latest preseason loss, reserve quarterback Connor Shaw stepped up.
Shaw admirably led the Bears with a spark, getting them on the board down when they were down 23-0 to the Chiefs on Saturday. He scrambled out of the pocket and found Cameron Meredith for a touchdown. Shaw finished the game 5-for-6 for 68 yards and a touchdown. He was 11-for-16 for 132 yards and two scores in the preseason — two more touchdowns than the Bears’ three other quarterbacks.
Unfortunately, Shaw’s chance for 2016 is over. He suffered a gruesome compound fracture to his leg leg Saturday. An ambulance quickly took Shaw to the hospital after the game. He had surgery this weekend and is expected to be placed on season-ending injured reserve on Tuesday.
“You just got to stay strong,” Bears backup quarterback Brian Hoyer said of Shaw. “Unfortunately, it’s part of the game. Injuries happen. The thing is, he’s a resilient guy. His resiliency will carry him through this.”
The 24-year-old Shaw won’t have a third season in the NFL. However, he at least earned a future with the Bears, according to coach John Fox.
Brought in by the endorsement of offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, Shaw showed in short time that he can lead the Bears’ offense. Fox offered no reservations in his belief of Shaw.
“He sparked or inspired the team or how you want to look at it,” Fox said Monday. “It’s just a really unfortunate injury. I think he’s got a bright future here. We’ll get him healed up and get him back out there.”
Preseason heroes are plenty, but Shaw is viewed differently. The Bears brought him in believing in that potential. Shaw was productive in the SEC while playing with South Carolina and brings upside to the NFL. He boasts good instincts, has a strong arm and the mobility to extend plays.
Prior to the injury, Shaw had presented an interesting dilemma for the Bears. He was pushing Hoyer for the backup job behind Jay Cutler and made the future of David Fales uncertain. It was looking as if the Bears would either move or part ways with Fales or even try to place him back on the practice squad where a potential suitor — the Dallas Cowboys? — could sign him away.
Fox wouldn’t specify what the Bears’ plans were at the quarterback position in light of Shaw’s injury. More cuts are due Tuesday at 3 p.m. CT, and Chicago has three more to make after designating Shaw and center Hroniss Grasu to the IR.
“All things are possible,” Fox said of the quarterback depth.
A fourth cut would have to come to add another quarterback as the 75th man. The other factor in play is that it’s unknown whether Hoyer will play in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Browns. Starter Jay Cutler certainly won’t.
It seems as if Fales will last another season in Chicago, despite never playing a regular-season game in two NFL seasons. The Phil Emery experiment flashes at times but is completely unproven.
Shaw was present early Monday morning at Halas Hall. He remains in good spirits and optimistic for the future.
“Successful surgery and road to recovery begins,” Shaw tweeted Monday from the Bears facility. “Excited to see how God uses me to help my teammates and coaches throughout the season.”
Once Shaw is back to health next season, he can continue to fight for a future with the Bears.