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.”