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Bears training camp preview: 3 burning questions for the wide receivers

Bears training camp preview: 3 burning questions for the wide receivers

With training camp starting next week, CSN Chicago’s Chris Boden and JJ Stankevitz are looking at three burning questions for each of the Bears’ position groups heading into Bourbonnais. Wednesday's unit: the wide receivers.

1. Kevin White

Need we say more? Okay, we will. Or ... maybe not. You guys are already familiar with the career numbers for the 2015 seventh overall draft pick: Four games played. 28 games missed. 19 catches. 187 yards. Zero touchdowns. Two serious injuries and surgeries on his left fibula. Oh, and he’ll be working with three new quarterbacks and a third wide receivers coach in as many years. That. Is. A. Lot.

“It’s got to happen now,”  White said in June of a potential Bears career crossroads season. “I’ve got to turn it up. So to me, year three, it’s time.”

2. Who gets hot in the slot?

If Cam Meredith and White get through the preseason healthy (and with the Bears the past two seasons, a big “if”), the position battle turns to playing time in the slot, where Eddie Royal was supposed to be the answer in the Ryan Pace/John Fox regime. Ex-Pittsburgh Steeler Markus Wheaton was given the sweetest contract of a free agent trip (two years, $11 million, six million guaranteed) and has the most speed. Kendall Wright excelled with a 94-catch season with the Tennessee Titans under Dowell Loggains in 2013, until gradually sinking further into the doghouse. And Victor Cruz has the tape — two great seasons with the New York Giants. But the second of those was five years ago for the now-30-year-old, and he played a total of six games in injury-plagued 2014 and 2015 seasons. If this trio all proves something, and deserving of roster spots, that may only leave Josh Bellamy (who’s proven value on special teams) as the sixth receiver, along with White and Meredith.

"The more routes I run, the more I build a rapport with Mike [Glennon] and get myself out there learning the plays," Cruz said after his signing, "I think I have that potential to be the guy you saw a few years ago.

"We’ve got a lot of guys who are looking for opportunity," said Wheaton. "A lot of guys that are hungry and have something to prove."

3. An unexpected, immediate-impact surprise?

Deonte Thompson had 22 catches when pressed into action last season, and has a history with new wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni at Florida (2010), but now has competition after a year and a half as the primary kickoff returner. Rueben Randle had a 71-catch season three years ago with the Giants, helping them offset the loss of Cruz, but must overcome a “lazy” reputation after not hooking on with a team at all last season. Daniel Braverman was All-Bourbonnais a year ago, but the seventh-round rookie (and "future Wes Welker") got into only three December games, with zero catches. Wheaton-Warrenville South product Titus Davis (older brother of Titans' 2017 first-round pick Corey Davis) is only 24 and "retired" from New York Jets camp a year ago. A darkhorse (perhaps only for the practice squad) could be undrafted rookie Tanner Gentry, who has size (6-foot-2) and a catch radius after leading the NCAA with 49 deep target throws (22 receptions) from potential top 2018 draft pick Josh Allen at Wyoming last season.

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Florida CB Quincy Wilson

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Florida CB Quincy Wilson

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft we will provide profiles of more than 100 prospects, including a scouting report and video interviews with each player.

Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida

6'1" | 211 lbs.

2016 stats:

33 tackles, 3 interceptions, 1 touchdown, 6 passes defended

Projection:

Second round

Scouting Report:

"Wilson rose to prominence this year after finishing with three interceptions and allowing fewer than 40 percent of the passes his way to be completed. His size and physicality combined with issues in staying glued to quick receivers could lead him to the safety spot where his instincts, ball skills and willingness to tackle will all serve him well." - Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Video analysis provided by Rotoworld and NBC Sports NFL Draft expert Josh Norris.

Click here for more NFL Draft Profiles

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Florida CB Jalen Tabor

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Florida CB Jalen Tabor

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft we will provide profiles of more than 100 prospects, including a scouting report and video interviews with each player.

Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida

6'0" | 199 lbs.

2016 stats:

33 tackles, 3 interceptions, 1 touchdown, 6 passes defended, 1 forced fumble

Projection:

First-to-second round

Scouting Report:

"Tabor has terrific size and quickness, but it will be interesting to see how he times in the forty. While he has some lapses in judgement and awareness in coverage, his nine career interceptions didn't happen by accident. He is a pure cover corner with the ability to pattern match around the field, but don't expect him to be a plus tackler in run support. He has the traits of a first-round cornerback, but some teams may be put off by some of his annoyances." - Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Video analysis provided by Rotoworld and NBC Sports NFL Draft expert Josh Norris.

Click here for more NFL Draft Profiles