The Bears signed Allen Robinson to a $42 million contract to be their No. 1 receiver — then had to learn to live without him.
Sunday, though, they’ll get him back.
Robinson said Thursday that he feels “100 percent” and that he “will definitely” play against the Lions at Soldier Field. He practiced in full for the second-straight day, the first time that’s happened since before the Dolphins game, during which he first felt his groin injury flare up.
“I’m feeling great, and I’m definitely anxious to get back out there,” he said. “It’s been a tough couple weeks, just having to watch the game from the sideline.”
After the Bears played two games with Robinson hampered and two more with him out, it’s easy to forget how essential the veteran was to the original iteration of Matt Nagy’s offense. Through the first three games of the season, Robinson had 28 targets and led the team with 17 catches for 198 receiving yards. He played no less than 93 percent of the team’s snaps in each game.
“He’s a weapon,” offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said. “He’s kind of been there, done that. He’s a very calming presence in a lot of ways. He’s just a confident guy. He knows everybody’s job. He can help those other guys line up at times, guys that don’t know the system as well as he does.
“He’s a security blanket-type presence for the quarterback.”
Quarterback Mitch Trubisky found others in his absence. Against the Dolphins, Taylor Gabriel posted a career-high 110 receiving yards. The next week, in which Robinson started but sat out the last three drives because of the injury, tight end Trey Burton had a career-best 126. Then rookie Anthony Miller had a career-high 49 yards against the Jets, the first game Robinson sat out completely. Had the Bills allowed two defensive touchdowns in Sunday’s blowout, maybe someone else would have done the same.
“I think in some twisted way,” Helfrich said, “you utilize his absence to develop some depth and develop roles for those other guys.”
Nagy didn’t sound too concerned about how he’ll reintegrate Robinson into their offense — even though his confidence in the Bears’ surrounding pieces grew over the past month.
“You just go right back to where you were when he was in there,” Nagy said. “We have so many different packages and personnel groupings that we can do different things. And that’s a benefit to us. And then where we feel like, if it’s something that works for him in that game, then we’ll put it in. But nothing too challenging.”
Trubisky, a self-described “reps guy,” said he’s been getting plenty of practice snaps with Robinson.
Robinson admitted that he was frustrated by the injury. After recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered on his first catch of the first game with the Jaguars in 2017, he’d hoped to play all 16 games this season.
But Robinson is rejoining a more well-rounded offense than the one he left.
That’s a good problem to have.
“For us, we definitely want all our playmakers out there at the same time,” Robinson said. “I think that’s what makes this offense special. We have a lot weapons. We have a lot of players that we can play off of, so it’s hard for a defense to really plan against that.”
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