Bears rookie WR Velus Jones back at practice, hopeful to debut vs. Packers

Bears rookie wide receiver Velus Jones was back at practice Wednesday, though still limited by a hamstring injury. He was hopeful to make his NFL debut Sunday night against the Packers — “That’s the plan,” he said — but uncertain.

Jones, a third-rounder who was the Bears’ highest draft pick on offense, has been in and out since arriving at Halas Hall. He had repeated issues with his hamstring in the preseason and was out all last week leading into the opener.

“I’m making sure it heals all the way so that I won’t keep having these issues, just trying to stay on top of it,” Jones said. “And when I do get on top of it, trying to make sure it never comes back.”

Jones struggled to establish himself in the offense during the preseason, but made a strong case to be their punt and kick returner. While the Bears are ultimately expecting much more than that from a player they chose No. 71 overall, special teams presents a clear way for him to contribute immediately.

The Bears’ rookie class excelled in the season-opening win over the 49ers with left tackle Braxton Jones, safety Jaquan Brisker and cornerback Kyler Gordon playing every snap, and backup defensive end Dominique Robinson getting 1 1/2 sacks. While Jones was inactive, he was upbeat about what that collective performance signified.

“It’s just amazing to be in the situation I am in; I know a lot of people would kill to be in this situation,” Jones said. “I’m just looking at all the positive things, being grateful, hyping my teammates up, being involved in the game mentally, just visualizing making plays.”

When he finally debuts, he’s envisioning big things.

“I’m looking to score every time the ball hits my hands,” he said. “I’m really good with yards after catch and especially with yards after contact. That’s why I’m pushing to make sure I’m as healthy as possible, so I can be that dynamic player I know I can be.”

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