The Chicago Bears promoted wide receiver Tanner Gentry from the practice squad and signed wide receiver/return man Mario Alford to replace him on Tuesday with Kevin White officially placed on injured reserve.
White suffered a fractured shoulder blade during Sunday’s regular-season opener, and will likely finish his third consecutive season on IR if surgery is required. However, the Bears are holding out hope that he may be able to avoid surgery and return later in the season.
Alford was a teammate of White’s at West Virginia, and was a seventh-round pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2015. He played for the Cleveland Browns last season, but did not catch a pass while appearing in three games. Alford did return eight kickoffs for a 23.8-yard averaged and eight punts for an 8.5-yard average.
Alford, who is just 5-feet-8 and 180 pounds, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.27 and 4.32 seconds at his pro day in 2015.
The 6-2, 209-pound Gentry had four catches for 77 yards and a 45-yard touchdown during the preseason, but did not make it through the final roster cuts. He did clear waivers and was signed to the practice squad.
With Cameron Meredith already lost to a season-ending knee injury, the Bears will move forward with free-agent additions Kendall Wright and Markus Wheaton as their top receivers, along with Deonte Thompson.
White’s shoulder injury is the latest in a string of major injuries he has suffered since being selected with the seventh overall pick in 2015. He has appeared in just five regular-season games due to a pair of leg fractures and now the shoulder injury.
As a rookie, White developed a stress fracture in his shin. He returned last year, only to suffer a severe high ankle sprain that turned into a fractured fibula in his leg leg in Week 4.
“My heart goes out to him,” Fox said. “He was very disappointed and discouraged in the locker room after the game for obvious reasons. Again, our thoughts and prayers go out to him. He was pretty upset about it last night, and they’re doing evaluations right now.”