The Chicago Bears’ first training camp practice open to the public arrives on July 27 and we’ll be there! But with training camp rapidly approaching and the team’s August 8 debut at home against the Panthers around the corner, let’s take an early look at who’s on the team right now.
Today: Wide receivers
The Starters: Allen Robinson (55 catches, 754 yards, 4 touchdowns, 77.7 grade from Pro Football Focus), Taylor Gabriel (67 catches, 688 yards, 2 touchdowns, 68.8 PFF grade), Anthony Miller (33 catches, 423 yards, 7 touchdowns, 60.6 PFF grade)
The Backups: Cordarrelle Patterson, Javon Wims, Riley Ridley, Marvin Hall, Tanner Gentry, Emanuel Hall, Taquan Mizzell Sr., Thomas Ives, Jordan Williams-Lambert
Potential Training Camp Star: Riley Ridley (who received some solid advice from Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco during the pre-draft process) could be the next rookie receiver who becomes an instant fan favorite. Last year, it was Anthony Miller (more on him in a bit) who opened the eyes of Bears fans by snagging everything quarterback Mitch Trubisky threw at him. Ridley, who possesses exceptional route-running ability and soft hands, can do just that by following the blueprint Miller put together a year ago at this time. You can read more about Ridley here and here, then jump on the bandwagon long before your friends even think about it.
We Really Like: Anthony Miller finished the 2018 season with a team-leading seven receiving touchdowns. That’s a solid number for a rookie, but it’s truly impressive once you consider he did it with just one healthy arm. Miller has been bringing the hype this offseason, working hard throughout the rehab process to get back into game shape and shadowing Head Coach Matt Nagy during the offseason training program in order to stay up-to-speed with the offense. Last summer, Miller opened eyes in training camp and the preseason, then proved to be a a trusted target for quarterback Mitch Trubisky. It’s left us wondering what a fully healthy Miller can do in 2019.
We Might Be Worried About: It’s less of a camp-related concern and more of a first-world problem, but the one question I have is whether someone in this group of pass-catchers will emerge as a bonafide No. 1 receiver. This position group has the most depth, with a collection of players that has a really high floor. But what remains to be seen is if one can break through with a breakout season and emerge as Trubisky’s top option. To be fair, it doesn’t have to happen to make the offense work, but it would be nice if it happened.
2019 Forecast: Even though the forecast predicts Trubisky will have a 3,800-yard passing season with 25 touchdowns, projections from ESPN’s Mike Clay don’t have the Bears with a 1,000-yard receiver. On one hand, it’s a sign the Bears have amassed a talented group of pass-catchers. But on the other hand, it sure would be nice if someone stepped in and became The Man. Perhaps that playmaker is Allen Robinson, whom you can make a compelling case for being the most important player on the offense this season. Robinson had his best game as a Bear in the playoffs and is projected to lead the team in targets, catches, and touchdown receptions.