Bears WR Wheaton breaks finger; return TBD

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — Chicago Bears wide receiver Markus Wheaton broke his left pinkie finger in practice Sunday, according to coach John Fox.

The timing of Wheaton’s latest setback is disappointing for the Bears. The veteran wideout just started practicing again Saturday — albeit in limited fashion — after undergoing an emergency appendectomy at the beginning of training camp.

Fox did not provide a timetable for Wheaton’s return from the broken finger.

“I felt bad for the guy today,” Fox said. “He just finally got back out there, and he was coming back on a curl route and just kind of got the finger jiggled; the ball just landed on the end of his finger. Hopefully it won’t be too big of a setback. He’s a great kid and works really hard and is a great teammate. He does have downfield speed that we saw early in the offseason, and hopefully we get to see it again here pretty soon.”

The Bears envision a large role for Wheaton after the former Pittsburgh Steeler signed a two-year deal that guaranteed him $6 million in 2017.

Wheaton, 26, appeared in only three games last season for the Steelers because of a shoulder injury, but he averaged 17 yards per reception in 2015.

Wheaton’s big-play potential is what stands out to Bears general manager Ryan Pace.

“He brings a speed element that we value,” Pace said July 26 of Wheaton, who ran track as well as playing football at Oregon State. “He can really stretch the field. He’s professional. I love his attitude. You know he’s kind of the first-guy-in, last-guy-out kind of worker. But really I think the trait that we value when you think of Wheaton is the vertical speed that he can bring to the offense. That’s important.”

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