No news is good news in training camp, especially when it comes to injuries. Unfortunately for the Bears, that wasn’t the case Monday when second-year wideout Marquess Wilson suffered a fractured left clavicle while diving for a pass in practice. Wilson had surgery earlier Tuesday, and while there’s no official timetable the early concern is that he may miss multiple regular-season games.
Prior to the injury Wilson had been making a sneaky move at the low end of the receiver rankings. He spent the offseason working out with Chicago’s twin tower receivers, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, and was expected to take over Earl Bennett’s role as the Bears’ third receiver.
Last year, at least, that wasn’t a particularly prolific role; non-Marshall or Jeffery Bear wideouts accounted for just 32 catches, 396 yards, and two TDs. However, Wilson had been playing so well in training camp that you got the feeling the combination of a more comfortable Jay Cutler and defenses forced to defend both Marshall and Jeffery could lead to an uptick in Chicago’s WR3 numbers.
Wilson’s injury leaves Josh Morgan as the frontrunner for the job, with Eric Weems and Michael Spurlock among the other candidates. Those bullish on Wilson for fantasy purposes aren’t likely to show the same love towards any of those receivers, and with good reason.
The Bear whose numbers could benefit from Wilson’s absence is actually tight end Martellus Bennett. With 65 catches for 759 yards and six touchdowns last season Bennett was essentially Cutler’s (and Josh McCown’s) third receiver; sans Wilson to siphon those looks, it’s Bennett who stands to benefit.
Of course, Bennett is generating negative press right now for body-slamming rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller during practice Monday. Fuller appeared to be going for a strip and instead caught Bennett around the neck, tackling him to the ground. Bennett took exception to the contact and responded by picking up Fuller and slamming him on his back.
The Bears have suspended Bennett for “an undetermined length of time”, according to GM Phil Emery, and fined him an undisclosed amount for “conduct detrimental to the team”. According to the league’s collective bargaining agreement, such a punishment cannot exceed one week’s salary and/or suspension without pay for up to four weeks.
It’s unlikely Bennett’s body slam will get him a month off, but he may not be available for Chicago’s preseason opener against the Eagles this weekend. And that’s unfortunate, because it would be nice to see if Bennett’s role would increase given Wilson’s absence; then again, the odds of seeing anything more than a handful of basic plays from Chicago’s first unit aren’t particularly good.
So Bennett’s opportunity to match or exceed last season’s numbers—which ranked him 10th in fantasy points among tight ends—remains under wraps. And if you’re sitting on Bennett as one of those tight ends to grab several rounds after Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski are off the board… well, for the moment your secret remains safely concealed.