Bears TE Zach Miller out for season
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Chicago Bears tight end Zach Miller has been placed on season-ending injured reserve because of the foot injury he suffered in Thursday’s 20-19 preseason victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Miller, a former tight end for Jacksonville, was trying to make the team, most likely as a backup behind starter Martellus Bennett and backup Dante Rosario.
“He had an excellent camp,” coach Marc Trestman said. “Things transitioned from the practice field to the games over the last couple weeks. That was clear, and we were certainly excited about what we saw.”
Miller, obtained off waivers by the Bears, had six catches for 68 yards and two touchdowns in the first preseason game.
The Bears didn’t reveal the severity of the injury. Miller’s injury depletes the Bears at tight end. They were also without Rosario on Thursday due to a calf injury.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Bears quarterback Jordan Palmer after Thursday’s game.
“He’s had an unbelievable camp. This is really the kind of camp that when you come in off the streets this is the camp you dream of. You’re patient, not a lot of opportunities. Really when he got opportunities, he made the most of them.”
For Miller, it’s a difficult situation after he was out of the NFL in 2012. His 2011 season was ended by a shoulder injury while with Jacksonville after he’d made 45 catches in three seasons. He has struggled with injuries in his career.
Matthew Mulligan has had the most success in trying to make the team from among several other tight ends on the roster.
“We’ve seen his speed in practice, we’ve seen his ability to run vertically up the field and make plays, which showed up last night and it’s showed up in practice,” Trestman said of Mulligan. “He’s shown good hands and good speed, besides his ability to block at his point of attack.
“So we’re excited about it. He’s got great experience.”
Miller wasn’t the only injury concern for the Bears. Rookie first-round pick Kyle Fuller suffered an ankle injury and left Thursday’s game early. Trestman said he didn’t have an update on that injury.
The injury to Fuller may become an issue because Tim Jennings had been moved to nickel corner from left corner in passing situations.
If he has to move back to playing left cornerback, he’ll lose time trying to learn the new spot. Jennings already missed more than half of training camp with a quad injury.
“He (Jennings) was highly competitive covering our receivers inside during camp before he got hurt,” Trestman said. “So I think that transition is something that he’s going to be able to handle easily.”
To take Miller’s roster spot, the Bears added wide receiver Kofi Hughes to compete in the battle for a third receiver behind Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall.
The 6-foot, 215-pounder entered the NFL last year as an undrafted free agent with the Washington Redskins out of Indiana
Trestman’s other big problem at this point is better production in special teams after his return teams have struggled.
They have lost a fumbled punt, had another fumbled punt and lost a kick return.
Their kick coverage team allowed a 102-yard touchdown return in the first preseason game.
“We’re not feeling good today about our kickoff return and our punt return game right now,” Trestman said.
Eric Weems lost the ball on a kick return against Jacksonville. In the first preseason game against Philadelphia, Micheal Spurlock lost a fumbled punt after a near collision with Michael Ford while fielding it.
Spurlock also fumbled a punt out of bounds against Jacksonville deep in Bears territory.
Without Devin Hester, who left in free agency for Atlanta, finding a return man figured to be important, but the coverage units and blocking have had problems, too.
“I think one of the things that we can get caught up in the (special) team aspect and what we really have to do is continue to develop a lot of new guys who are going to be core special teams players and continue to work with them, and we will,” Trestman said. “I’m optimistic we’ll get better.”