Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller was practicing for the first time since the preseason on Wednesday, but defensive coordinator Vic Fangio didn’t pay much attention to him.
“I only saw some of his plays,” Fangio said. “I’ll be anxious to go see the tape. Some of it looked decent. So we’ll see, and then see how he feels.”
Of course, it’s been a while since Fuller has felt good enough to play.
The Bears officially designated Fuller to return from injured reserve. He was put on IR on Sept. 27 after he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee during the preseason.
Since teams only can activate one player from IR, Fuller’s impending return means that receiver Kevin White’s season is officially over.
White, though, always was considered a long shot to play again this season. His injury simply was more serious than Fuller’s. White required surgery to repair a spiral fracture in his left fibula, which he suffered Oct. 2 against the Lions.
“We just got to get him healthy,” coach John Fox said of White.
The goal is get Fuller ready to play, possibly as soon as this week against the 49ers. But the Bears do have 21 days to decide whether to move him to the active roster.
In his first day back, Fuller took park individual and team drills, which included time with the scout team.
“It’s really just being able to get myself to be able to go out there and perform, which is why the process went the way it was,” Fuller said of his long recovery. “[It] felt good to be back.”
Fuller didn’t elaborate on his injury, though he said it did result in the longest absence of his career.
“I just want to come back and do my part and help the team win,” Fuller said. “[It’s] just getting back on the field and just performing.”
Fuller, though, downplayed the significance of the final five games for his career.
A decision whether to pick up Fuller’s fifth-year option for 2018 has to be made by March. And at this point it would be surprising if that happens.
It’s no secret that Fuller has fallen out of favor with the team that drafted him with 14th overall pick in 2014.
Coaches have described Fuller as inconsistent, and veteran teammates have stressed the importance of improving his work habits.
Cornerbacks Bryce Callahan, Cra’Von LeBlanc and even rookie Deiondre’ Hall have leapfrogged Fuller on the depth chart during his absence.
All that said, Fuller, who made six interceptions and forced three fumbles in his first two seasons, still has a chance to win everyone over.
“[It’s] probably not a whole lot different for Kyle than the rest of our team,” Fox said. “[It’s] getting a look at guys and hopefully finish the season strong.”