By Jeff Joniak–
(CBS) The Bears (2-7) are on the road to face the Giants (6-3) on Sunday at noon. Here are my observations leading into the game.
There has to be a better way. Players are ultimately responsible for the supplements or medicine they use during the season. Bears receiver Alshon Jeffrey used a product to quiet inflammation, but it contained an ingredient on the NFL’s banned performance-enhancing drug list, leading to a four-game suspension. From the league’s perspective, it’s a black-and-white issue. Check and double-check.
After talking to former Bears defensive end Alex Brown, he convinced me it’s not black and white. As a player, he would send the product labels into the league office for review. While the league cleared the product, it would also remind him the use of the product is still the responsibility of the player. Essentially, it’s a roll of the dice. Brown said he never took the chance and just didn’t use the product. The supplement business changes quickly. A product could be legal one day and illegal the next based on how it’s made and with what ingredients.
Bears receiver Marquess Wilson could play his first snaps of his fourth NFL season this Sunday if he comes off the physically-unable-to-perform list, a designation that was needed after he refractured his left foot in a June mini-camp practice. Wilson is only 24, the same age as Bears rookie outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. However, Wilson has already played 28 games and started 13 after entering the league as a 21-year-old seventh-round pick in the 2013 draft. His fourth-year salary is $1.67 million, yet he’s earned every dollar to this point just rehabbing.
“It sucks,” Wilson said. “You want to do everything you can to help the team, and once you get the OK to be able to do it, you just want to try and rush it and get out there.”
It’s out of his control until the medical staff gives him the green light.
Wilson is star-crossed. His rookie deal expires after the season. His flashes of excellence have been unfortunately washed away by broken bones. His clavicle cracked early in training camp in 2014. Last December, it was the left foot fracture. Seven months later, the same left foot cracked again.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Wilson said regarding his bad luck. “We don’t know why it happens, it just happens. You just got to take it and deal with it and move on and just work.”
Wilson still has plenty to learn about playing receiver at the NFL level. The time on the sideline, he said, has helped close that gap. Most injured players rarely make an appearance in the locker room during game week. Wilson isn’t that guy. He’s using his support system by hanging with the other receivers, having fun with his teammates and not wallowing in his personal disappointments.
I will be curious to see what Wilson can do when he gets activated, after he avered 16.6 yards per catch in 2015 before his broken foot.
No team in football runs the ball better on first down than the Bears. Earning 5.5 yards per carry, they top even the Dallas Cowboys. The Bears can run the ball, but they also have the second-fewest number of rushing attempts in the league with 194, a by-product of often playing behind and the result of running the second-fewest number of plays in the league with 534, well below the league average of 591 plays.
Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.