Three players caught passes on the Bears’ 67-yard game-winning touchdown drive against the Chiefs, none of them named Alshon Jeffery.
Six Bears had at least one catch in Sunday’s 18-17 win while Jeffery watched from the sideline.
In fact, nine Bears have at least one reception since Week 1, and Jeffery is not among them.
So when is that going to change? When is the Bears’ injured No. 1 receiver coming back?
Even if coach John Fox knew, he wouldn’t publicize it. But one thing is clear as Jeffery’s recovery from a hamstring injury nears the start of a fifth week: Everyone involved wants this saga to end.
During Fox’s Monday news conference, he offered some insight when asked about another player who has battled injuries, cornerback Tracy Porter. Porter made the roster in September despite a recurring hamstring problem that sidelined him for parts of the preseason and the first two regular-season games.
“Anytime players get injured, there’s a frustration level,” Fox said. “There’s a frustration level on their side, there’s a frustration level on the coaches’ side. The reality is it’s part of the game. Faith and patience are part of everything.”
The conversation naturally turned to Jeffery, who has fully participated in only two practices since Aug. 12 because of a strained left calf and the hamstring.
What’s the status of Fox’s faith in and patience with the former Pro Bowl wideout?
“Back to the frustration level, it’s understandable on all sides,” Fox said. “Our medical people are doing everything in their power, as well, to get him back. We’ll see what this week brings.”
The Bears have a week off later this month, which gives Jeffery and the team an extra element to consider when determining his status for Sunday’s game against the Lions.
If Jeffery isn’t fully healthy, they could hold him out, knowing they don’t play again until Nov. 1. Or Jeffery could try to play, understanding he would have two weeks to recover.
When Jeffery last spoke to reporters Thursday, he referred to the “process” of recovery multiple times, adding, “It’s a long season.”
The subtext is that Jeffery’s contract expires in March. On one hand, Jeffery’s market value could be diminished by mediocre numbers resulting from playing hurt. On the other hand, no player boosts his worth by missing games.
That dichotomy supports Jeffery’s contention that his playing status has nothing to do with his contract and everything to do with his health. Plus, Jeffery attended the Bears’ voluntary offseason program, believing that participation would lead to production, which would lead to a payday.
While Jeffery has missed the last four games, relatively inexperienced receivers have contributed.
Marquess Wilson caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler in the fourth quarter Sunday to cut into the Chiefs’ lead. And the 24-yard pass-interference penalty Wilson drew on third-and-10 from the Chiefs 37 with 57 seconds remaining set up the game-winning score.
Cameron Meredith, an undrafted rookie, had four catches for 52 yards, with two receptions for 30 yards on the final drive.
Their roles going forward partly depend on Jeffery. His participation in Wednesday’s practice should be a strong indicator of his status for Sunday. At that point, all sides can remeasure their frustration levels.