Kevin White’s Healthy Scratch Isn’t Permanent, But It Did Send a Message

Khalil Mack and Allen Robinson II were the most notable and accomplished players to pop up on the inactive list before the Chicago Bears’ win against the Buffalo Bills in Week 9, but Kevin White was the biggest head-scratcher. Which is saying a lot, because we’ve grown accustomed to not seeing White active on game days.

White was a healthy scratch on Sunday, which I suppose is good news if you’re looking at the big picture: the last thing the Bears need is an injured player chipping away at the team’s depth as we enter the stretch run of the 2018 NFL season.

But with pass-catching options such as Robinson and tight end Ben Braunecker not healthy enough to give it a go, you’d figure the Bears might want to keep White active and give the 2015 first-round pick a select number of offensive plays. But that wasn’t the case. Instead, the Bears did what they believed to be the right thing from a team perspective, by giving other guys a shot. So instead of White seeing the field against the Bills, rookie receiver Javon Wims took White’s spot on the active roster, and recently promoted running back Taquan Mizzell got into the action, as well.

… Which certainly feels like a new low for White, doesn’t it? Because while he hasn’t been a key cog on the offense at all this season (five targets, three catches), the only thing more notable than his absence was the fact that his playing time was eaten up by a seventh-round pick from the 2018 draft, who didn’t play any special teams snaps, and an undrafted free agent second-year running back. And for it to come after a week when he played a season-high 29 snaps seems to say a lot about the situation.

But evidently, this isn’t the end of the road for White. Not yet, anyway. Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune reports White’s placement on the inactives list on Sunday isn’t necessarily a permanent, long-term move. Head Coach Matt Nagy has spewed positive reinforcement in White’s direction at every turn of the season, but made it clear with his actions that he will tailor the active game-day roster to best combat that week’s opponents. If there are days when Jordan Howard can barely be used, there are definitely days when White will be asked to sit out. It’s a tough break for a player who is finally healthy enough to play, but it’s the reality of a competitive team.

No, White hasn’t lived up to his lofty first-round billing – and for once, injuries aren’t playing a huge role in that – but what he has done is work to get himself into a position to be healthy and play when called upon. If he can continue to remain healthy and productive (even as a blocker), he’ll continue to work back into action when the matchup calls for it. It’s not much, but it’s a start for the star-crossed Bears receiver.

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