They say a crisis equals danger and opportunity. That seems to be the case with the Chicago Bears. On the one hand, the injuries piling up at wide receiver are concerning. Byron Pringle, N’Keal Harry, Velus Jones, and David Moore are all down with health issues. That doesn’t even count tight end Cole Kmet being out too. Justin Fields is running out of weapons. However, not everybody is panicking at these developments. Others see it as their chance to make a bigger impression.
Thus far, the Bears haven’t made any moves to bolster the receiver position. That might be because multiple members of the depth chart have stepped up their performances in the past week, thanks to additional practice reps.
Three names have emerged.
One is veteran Tajae Sharpe, a former 5th round pick of the Tennessee Titans that fell off after a strong rookie year. The next is Isaiah Coulter; another former 5th round pick the Bears picked up last season after getting cut by Houston. Lastly is Dazz Newsome, the team’s 6th round pick from 2021. According to Josh Schrock of NBC Sports Chicago and others at Halas Hall, all three have traded strong days in their battle for a roster spot.
“Bears coaches put 20 seconds on the clock and asked the offense to get into field-goal range with no timeouts. Coulter lined up in the slot to the right and ran a corner route against nickelback Jaylon Jones. Coulter’s route wasn’t the smoothest, but Fields dropped the ball in the bucket, and the receiver got both feet down in bounds inside the 10-yard line.”
“Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy dialed up an RPO with the ball around the 15. Fields faked to Herbert, rolled left, and saw Sharpe coming open in the end zone’s back corner. Fields lofted a ball over a defender and hit Sharpe in stride. The receiver quickly tapped both feet down before his momentum carried him out of bounds.”
Sticking with the WRs, which is a unit depleted with injuries right now, Dazz Newsome and rookie UDFA Kevin Shaa are making the most of their opportunities. Newsome getting open with crisp route running.. Shaa showing off his speed getting wide open and catching a TD by Siemian.
— Christian Shanafelt (@ChrisShanafelt) August 10, 2022
Chicago Bears are likely waiting to see if this translates to games.
If they weren’t convinced any of those three had something to offer the offense, they would’ve already made a move to add help at wide receiver. Instead, GM Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus are willing to wait and see what happens in the preseason opener on Saturday. The Kansas City Chiefs make for a perfect test. They have a strong roster filled with solid defensive backs. If Sharpe, Coulter, or Newsome are worth anything, they should be able to make two or three plays in that game.
Right now, it looks like Newsome has the upper hand thanks to his status as the team’s starting punt returner. Special teams carries a lot of weight this time of year. Sharpe, though, seems to have a growing connection with Fields. That means Coulter is under the most pressure to perform well. If all three fail to stand out, it may force the Bears’ hand with Pringle and Harry not expected back for weeks.