BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — Tanner Gentry’s one-handed catch of a Mark Sanchez deep ball was undoubtedly the highlight of Tuesday’s practice, and was one of the most impressive plays we’ve seen from a skill position player at Olivet Nazarene University this summer. He also made a handful of other plays, too, standing out on an up-and-down day for the offense.
But despite impressive days like Tuesday, the undrafted free agent from Wyoming has an uphill climb to make the Bears’ Week 1 53-man roster.
Gentry is aware of this, and is doing something he never did at Wyoming to improve his stock: Do some special teams grunt work. Gentry is working with the Bears’ coverage and front-line kickoff return units, on which he’ll have to tackle more than he ever did in college.
“It's an adjustment, but I'm trying to learn it and I know I have to make an impact there if I want to make this team,” Gentry said.
As a receiver, Gentry has displayed good hands and a knack for tracking deep balls in the air. At the least, he could be a good player for the Bears to look to stash on their practice squad; at best, he shows himself to be a valuable special teams contributor who can also catch a few passes here and there as a rookie.
“I've always been pretty confident in myself and I've always know that I can play at this level,” Gentry said. “I’ve been excited to show everybody what I can do.”
The “it” factor
Gentry’s quarterback at Wyoming last year was Josh Allen, who’s already been tabbed as a likely first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Allen threw for 3,203 yards with 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions for the Cowboys last year, but his 6-foot-5, 222 pound frame has college scouts salivating.
With the Bears, Gentry is playing with someone who actually was a top-two pick, not just projected as one. But Gentry was able to draw a line between Allen and Mitch Trubisky, with whom he’s developed a solid rapport so far during training camp.
“Those guys both have the 'it' factor that you're looking for in a first-round guy,” Gentry said. “Josh asks me all the time how he compares to Mitch in certain aspects. They're both great.”