With Injury Behind Him, Bears' Adam Shaheen Gearing Up For Return

November 14, 2018 - 3:16 pm
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) -- Behind the scenes at Halas Hall, second-year Bears tight end Adam Shaheen has been putting in his work and waiting for his moment.

Like the Bears, Shaheen imagined himself emerging as a mismatch in coach Matt Nagy's offense. Then he suffered a gruesome injury to his right foot and ankle during a preseason game in Denver on Aug. 18. He was carted off the field, sent in for second opinions and forced into a rehab that has lasted nearly three months. It has been difficult and frustrating, but it may be over soon.

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Shaheen's time could finally be here, perhaps in primetime against the Vikings at Soldier Field on Sunday. If all goes accordingly in practice this week, the Bears could activate Shaheen from injured reserve and make him part of their plans. The team has until Saturday afternoon to make a determination on Shaheen's status.

"It was good to get back out there with the guys and get ready to go gear up and play," Shaheen said before practice Wednesday.

The Bears have been monitoring Shaheen closely since he return to practice last week. Shaheen estimates he's at more than 90 percent health in his right foot and ankle and would deem himself at 100 percent when he can move with his desired explosiveness once again.

Shaheen suffered the injury in what was the Bears' third of five exhibitions, catching a quick strike from quarterback Mitchell Trubisky while running an out route. As he fell to the ground, his right foot buckled awkwardly. A second-round pick in 2017, Shaheen posted 12 receptions for 127 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie and was finally gaining a grasp on NFL game speed before suffering an injury last December that cost him the final three games of the season.

Shaheen is now at a point in which the pain in his foot and ankle is minimal, though he did feel it last week after working in consecutive days of full practice participation. The Bears have utilized caution with Shaheen's health and won't play him Sunday if not completely confident in his health. 

But they're eager to integrate Shaheen into an offense that keeps making strides. Entering this week, the Bears are ranked fifth in scoring at 29.9 points per game. They envision the 6-foot-6, 270-pound Shaheen being a weapon in the red zone and elsewhere.

"He's obviously a big target, runs good routes for his size and can separate," Trubisky said of Shaheen. "I think he's just a mismatch problem across the board for linebackers and safeties, and when you get a corner on him as well, his size is just too much to handle. Getting him back will just open things up even more for this offense. He’s another option for this option to be even more dynamic.”

The key for Shaheen these in the past three months was staying up to date with the Bears' plans on offense. That meant absorbing everything in team meetings, studying the schemes as if he was playing and keeping himself up to speed. Shaheen feels as if he hasn't missed a beat. Now, his challenge is to take what has been learned and run it at full speed on the practice field.

Nagy has lauded the work ethic of Shaheen in meetings and with his rehab, and the Bears know how eager Shaheen is to be part of their plans. Watching his team gain its footing offensively and reach first place through 10 weeks has been exciting, but Shaheen has wanted to be a part of it.

All he could do is work toward that return, and it may be coming soon.

"Especially now," Shaheen said. "We got some big games coming up and we're playing for something. Can't wait."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.