BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – The broken collarbone suffered Monday by Marquess Wilson (“Q” to teammates) puts the development of a promising young wide receiver on hold for at least the first part of a difficult 2014 schedule. Wilson had all but ended any competition for the No. 3 receiver in one of the NFL’s emerging elite passing offenses.
It also faced the Bears with a “next man up” situation, something they only had to deal with twice all last season (Josh McCown for Jay Cutler, Eben Britton for Jordan Mills in Game 16) when 10 of the 11 No. 1’s on offense played in all 16 games.
But who is the “next man” after Wilson?
It is not an insignificant question. The Bears have operated a major portion of training camp with three receivers plus tight end Martellus Bennett. Last season, the Bears were in nickel for approximately 50 percent of their snaps; No. 3 wideout Earl Bennett unofficially played 511 of the Bears’ 1013 snaps and caught 32 passes.
Two receivers stood in line behind Wilson on the pre-injury depth chart:
Eric Weems, overlooked as a receiver because of his return skills, has had his best camp in three as a Bear, consistently making catches in coverage despite the physical stature of a Wes Welker.
“Eric is not just a returner,” said coach Marc Trestman. “He’s a very good receiver in terms of route running. The quarterbacks trust him. He plays bigger than his overall size. He’s got a good catch radius and runs good, technical routes. The guys are comfortable working with him.”
Weems has just 27 career catches and only three since joining the Bears in 2012.
Josh Morgan, 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, has 199 catches over a six-year NFL career, including seasons of 52 and 44 receptions with San Francisco and 48 with Washington (2012). Morgan has started 54 of his 79 games played.