Chicago Bears: Wheaton injury puts McBride, Gentry in the spotlight

(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

With Markus Wheaton injured, the Chicago Bears may have to rely on Tre McBride and Tanner Gentry.

Well…looks like there may have been another reason for Tanner Gentry’s promotion to the active roster than just wanting to see what he can do.

The Chicago Bears announced today that Markus Wheaton is dealing with a groin tear and could miss 4-6 weeks with the injury. He apparently had an MRI on the affected leg after being limited in today’s practice.

With that injury, the Chicago Bears are now left with only four healthy receivers at the moment: Kendall Wright, Josh Bellamy, Tre McBride and Gentry.

We all know what Wright brings out of the slot, and we know that Trubisky will look frequently for him. And we know that Bellamy just isn’t that good.

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What we don’t know is what we can expect from the two youngsters, McBride and Gentry. And based just on how much McBride played last week, even over Bellamy and the now-cut Deonte Thompson, the Chicago Bears are intent on finding out what they can do.

McBride only got one official target last Monday but made a couple of nice grabs, including an impressive sideline catch that got negated due to a penalty.

And Gentry became a fan favorite during training camp with his spectacular high-point catches over defenders. Much to the delight of fans, the Bears promoted him from the practice squad yesterday.

All in all, there’s no reason not to promote both players and give them this audition now. Both are young players with good hands and the ability to make difficult catches, something that Bears receivers have largely lacked this season. McBride also has good speed and could serve as a downfield threat in this offense.

And although the ability to separate from NFL defenders is a concern for both players, what better way to find out if they can do it or not than just turning them loose?

Plus, their rapport with Trubisky bears noting, especially in Gentry’s case, as he needs players around him that he trusts.

With Wheaton out, look for McBride to start on the outside and receive the lions’ share of the snaps with Wright. And though Bellamy will surely play more than he did last week, Gentry could well out-snap him.

At this point, what do you have to lose? Barring a miracle, the Chicago Bears aren’t going anywhere meaningful this year. It’s time to see right now what these guys can do and if they merit longer looks for the future.

Who knows? Maybe one, or both, could have a 2016 Cameron Meredith-like impact for this struggling team.