Tanner Gentry Is A Training Camp Superstar

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Tanner Gentry Is A Training Camp Superstar

Chicago Bears

He emerges around this time every summer.

You know who I’m talking about.

The player who arrives at camp – relatively unannounced – as a late-round pick or an undrafted free agent with a bit of a college pedigree who might’ve slipped down the draft boards in the Spring for whatever reason. Then, after being given the right opportunities, he makes waves with his performance and production. Hype slowly builds until he has a breakout performance or two. And then, BOOM! That player becomes some sort of training camp legend.

This year it’s Tanner Gentry…

… who might be different than your run-of-the-mill feel-good training camp hero story.

Just check out some of these grabs:

Upon his arrival, Gentry’s arrow has been pointing up.

He was one of a handful of players plucked by the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent, and his addition to the mix made all the sense in the world after the team didn’t choose any wide receivers in the Draft.

We felt as though he was one of the rookies at mini-camp we needed to get to know early, and he proved us right by impressing enough to make us wonder what his role could look like in the future. From there, we’ve tried to figure out which UDFAs – if any – had a good shot at making the Bears’ season-opening roster. And, surely, his stock has been on the rise since the start of training camp, making major connections with fellow third-stringer (for now) Mitch Trubisky.

And because the competition at receiver is, well, what it is, Gentry has as good of a chance as nearly anyone at making the team. Highlight-reel caliber catches will only help his case, especially if he can prove he can play on the outside. The Bears have no shortage of slot receiver candidates (Kendall Wright, Victor Cruz, Markus Wheaton, etc.), which makes Gentry’s emergence that much more noticeable – and necessary.

And Gentry isn’t just making plays, it sounds like he’s catching onto some veteran insight. Indeed, one of Gentry’s primary focuses has been to match a high-level commitment to detail like some of more experienced teammates have shown.

“Learning from the veteran receivers in how detailed they are in their routes and how they create separation,” Gentry said in his meeting with the press after Tuesday’s practice. “In this offense, everything has got to be on point and you have to be at the right spot at the right time.”

The thing about Gentry is that this isn’t the kind of overnight sensation it might seem to be on the surface. Gentry starred at Wyoming, where he was the Cowboys’ big-play threat. You could make the argument that his play in college helped put quarterback Josh Allen on the map (Pro Football Focus noted that Allen had a 124.6 passer rating when targeting Gentry – 91.6 when throwing to anyone else).

Also, his 3.41 yards per route run was the second highest among draft-eligible players last season – but was the only one who went undrafted. This should not go overlooked as the Bears are traveling a different route in their search for receiver talent.

Chicago won’t know what it has in Gentry until he puts on pads and takes to the field on gameday. While there isn’t much to be gleaned from preseason play, the next four games will help determine Gentry’s future with the team. If he can show he can stick, then the noise surrounding him as a useful piece of the offense will grow. If he doesn’t, then he might go down as another training camp flash in the pan.

Albeit, an entertaining one.

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.