Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune addresses the absence of wide receiver Eddie Royal:
“I get the impression that fans are irritable about Royal (knee) missing five straight games, but if you’re hurt you’re hurt. The Bears didn’t do Royal any public relations favors by listing him as questionable for the 49ers games even though he hasn’t practiced since going down in the Vikings game on Nov. 1, but that’s another matter.”
Most of the fans I know aren’t “irritable”. Most aren’t thinking of Royal at all. But having said that, perhaps they should.
Royal’s absence as a source of problems for the Bears is probably being largely under-estimated. This is partly because the Bears were playing him split out wide. One of the things that Royal said in the offseason that he wanted to do was prove that he could play somewhere other than the slot. But it soon became evident that the slot was where he belongs as his production suffered while the Bears were still feeling their way through the beginning of the year to find out what players could and couldn’t do.
Before he was hurt, the Bears moved Royal back into the slot where he belongs and he was reasonably productive before he got hurt. Royal could be a very important future piece in this offense when he’s healthy. Let’s hope he returns soon.