The Chicago Bears’ first training camp practice open to the public arrives on July 21 and we’ll be there, literally. But with training camp rapidly approaching and the team’s August 2 debut at the Hall of Fame Game around the corner, let’s take an early look at who’s on the team right now.
Today: Wide receiver
The Starters: Allen Robinson (1 catch, 17 yards, 71.7 grade from Pro Football Focus in one game in 2017), Taylor Gabriel (33 catches, 376 yards, 1 touchdown, 65.9 grade from PFF in 16 games), Kevin White (2 catches, six yards, 47.5 grade from PFF in one game)
The Reserves: Anthony Miller, Javon Wims, DeMarcus Ayers, Josh Bellamy, Tanner Gentry, Garrett Johnson, Bennie Fowler, Matt Fleming, Marlon Brown
Potential Training Camp Star: Tanner Gentry was a training camp darling last season, because he was able to connect with Mitch Trubisky on some deep passes in camp, and Javon Wims could be that guy this year. Wims was a deep-ball threat at Georgia and his ability as a go-up-and-get-it guy could made him an intriguing late-round selection by the Bears. Matt Nagy’s offenses don’t shy away from throwing the deep ball, which means Wims could have ample opportunity to make a name for himself this summer.
We Really Like: I’m not sure there is anything as encouraging as looking at the clean slate the Bears have given the wide receiver position this year. It was a much-needed change and the front office put everything into creating something different. There are 12 receivers in camp, and only three received significant playing time in Chicago last season. The depth at this position is better today than it has been in recent years, and it starts with Allen Robinson at the top. After that, the Bears have a bunch of receivers who should slot into comfortable roles in this offense rather than trying to be pushed into something they aren’t. Now, that is what change looks like.
We Might Be Worried About: The biggest concerns regarding the Bears’ receivers have to do with how Robinson (and to a lesser extent, Kevin White) bounce back from injury. If Robinson isn’t the WR1 he is expected to be, the issues that plagued Mitch Trubisky when he didn’t have a go-to target could come back again. As for White, we’re pretty much at a point where whatever the Bears get from him moving forward is gravy. He has done everything right this offseason and the team has done nothing to suggest that it won’t give him every chance to succeed. If he can stay healthy, he could follow in the footsteps of Kyle Fuller.
2018 Forecast: The sky is the limit for this group, which is something we haven’t been able to say about Bears receivers for a while. Robinson is lined up to have a big year, Anthony Miller thinks he’ll out-play his projections, and White has worked his way back to make it this far so we might as well give him a shot to make the cut. I figure the Bears will carry six receivers on their 53-man roster, with back-of-the-depth-chart guys doubling as special teams contributors. Josh Bellamy, Marlon Brown, and Bennie Fowler could be three guys fighting for one spot on the roster.