BOURBONNAIS — The buzz surrounding Bears No. 3 wide receiver Marquess Wilson throughout the offseason and first week of training camp disappeared almost instantly Monday, when he suffered a broken collarbone while diving for a pass from Jay Cutler. No immediate timetable was given for Wilson’s return, although a best-case scenario would likely have him out four to six weeks.
The play represented what had the Bears so excited about Wilson – speed to get behind cornerback Charles Tillman and a large catching radius to get his hands on an overthrow – but also a reminder of why coach Marc Trestman constantly emphasizes staying off the ground in camp.
“That’s the hardest part about coaching in practice,” said a clearly disappointed Trestman after Monday’s practice, moved from 3 p.m. to 11 a.m. because of expected inclement weather that never arrived. “You hear us say it all the time: ‘Stay off the ground, stay off the ground.’ And diving for balls is one of the most difficult things not to do when you’re a competitive player.”
Wilson caught only two passes as a seventh-round rookie last season but seemed poised for a breakthrough after a strong offseason in which he worked with Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and others in Miami.
“It is [frustrating],” said Wilson, wearing a sling on his right shoulde, “but … you can’t be down on it. You’ve just got to feed off of this and then come back even stronger. That’s what my plan is to do: come back stronger when I get healthy and keep working.”
Eric Weems and Chris Williams both have made plays in camp and will have a chance to earn the No. 3 role. Free agent acquisition Josh Morgan has the most NFL experience among the reserve wideouts (199 career receptions), but he’s been quiet in Bourbonnais.
Tempers flare: The most tense scuffle of camp occurred between tight end Martellus Bennett (6-foot-6, 265 pounds) and nickel cornerback Kyle Fuller (6-0, 190 pounds). In a tight red zone drill, Fuller brought down Bennett by the shoulder pads after breaking up a pass. Bennett immediately bounced up and went after the rookie, first shoving, then body slamming Fuller to the ground. Marshall quickly got in the face of Bennett, before Trestman ended practice abruptly.
Special teams installment: The Bears added several new wrinkles to special teams drills, including onside kicks, free kicks and field goal returns. In the more traditional drills, Weems and Sherrick McManis were first-team gunners on punts; Ryan Mundy and Kelvin Hayden lined up outside on kickoffs.
Attendance report: Safeties Chris Conte (shoulder) and Craig Steltz (groin) remain on the physically unable to perform list. Cornerback Tim Jennings (quadriceps) and offensive lineman Eben Britton (hamstring) also remained out. Defensive end Jared Allen and running back Shaun Draughn were again excused for personal reasons.
Highlights: Before his injury, Wilson had the day’s biggest completion, a go route on which he roasted Charles Tillman before running under a well-placed Cutler sideline throw. … Cornerback Isiah Frey notched the defense’s only takeaway, picking off a telegraphed throw over the middle by Jimmy Clausen. … Alshon Jeffery showed off his strong hands on two sideline throws, including high-pointing a Cutler pass over Hayden to move the chains on third-and-long.