Watching Bears rookie receiver Anthony Miller go down with a shoulder injury twice in Sunday’s win against the Cardinals gave me an unsettling feeling. Miller is a wideout with passion, energy, skills, and big-play ability, so losing him for any length of time would be a tough blow for an offense still looking to find its footing.
But while it’s easy to default to fearing the worst, some apparent good news has surfaced regarding Miller’s shoulder injury:
#Bears coach Matt Nagy said he doesn’t anticipate surgery will be required for WR Anthony Miller (left shoulder). He did not practice Wednesday.
— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) September 27, 2018
Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy doesn’t anticipate Miller needing surgery to repair his injured shoulder, and that’s as good of news as you could have expected at this point. The shoulder injury caused Miller to miss a healthy number of offensive plays, as he finished with a less than 55 percent snap share for the first time in the regular season. Note, however, that Miller had a shoulder issue while at Memphis, so we knew this would be something worth keeping an eye on as soon as he went down with the injury in the first place.
But while Nagy doesn’t think Miller will need surgery now, David J. Chao – a practicing orthopedic surgeon, former NFL team doctor, and currently a Sports Medical Analyst for the San Diego-Union Tribune – sees it differently.
Chao believes Miller will require surgery sooner or later, but also made note of the possibility that Miller could finish the season with a brace or rehab, though he would be at risk of dislocating his shoulder again. In this scenario, Miller could wait as late as February to have surgery, which would have a six-month recovery period and still have him ready for the start of the 2019 season. However, playing with a brace or harness is more difficult for a wide receiver than, say, a defensive back, because of the responsibilities a receiver has to a given offense.
Miller missed practice on Wednesday and was viewed as day-to-day earlier in the week. If he were to miss Sunday’s game, it would lead to Kevin White and Josh Bellamy moving up the depth chart and possibly getting a boost in playing time. The Bears could also deploy running back Tarik Cohen and/or tight end Trey Burton differently in the passing game. Should the Bears decide to play it cautiously and not have Miller active on Sunday, we could even see seventh-round rookie receiver Javon Wims slide onto the active 46-man game-day roster.
Unlike previous years, the Bears have viable options to replace an injured player. But here’s hoping they don’t have to dive into them for too long.