It only took one week for Tanner Gentry to go from a training camp standout stashed on the practice squad to a member of the Bears’ 53-man roster.
But while Gentry turned heads in Bourbonnais and was on the receiving end of an impressive 45-yard touchdown from Mitchell Trubisky against the Tennessee Titans, he didn’t work much with Mike Glennon. And the Bears continue to talk up Tre McBride, the waiver claim from the Baltimore Ravens who was inactive in Week 1 but could factor into the team’s receiver equation as he learns the team’s offense.
The point here: Gentry, after earning his way on to the 53-man roster, still has to earn his way into being active on Sunday. Quickly growing his rapport with Glennon is, more narrowly, Gentry’s next step.
“He had a good preseason,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “We just gotta kinda figure out how the numbers are gonna be this week and who's up, who's down. We are excited about what Tanner brings and hopefully we can create a role for him if he's active and playing this week.”
The Bears hope to get Markus Wheaton back soon (he was listed as a limited participant on Wednesday’s injury report, which isn’t a change from last week), and when the speedy former Pittsburgh Steeler does return, he’ll likely join Deonte Thompson, Josh Bellamy and Kendall Wright on the active gameday roster. The Bears could consider making five receivers active on gameday, though they only had four against Atlanta (Thompson, Bellamy, Wright and Kevin White).
The Bears like Gentry’s skillset, particularly his ability to track the ball in the air and his football instincts. "Sometimes there are guys that have a knack for the football, (and) we kinda feel like Tanner could be that kinda guy,” Loggains said. But he still has an uphill climb to make an impact on Sundays, needing to prove to coaches that his pass-catching skills and special teams ability warrant an active spot.
The thing with Gentry, though: He’s constantly fought those uphill battles ever since he was a lightly-recruited athlete in high school (Gentry, according to Rivals.com, only received scholarship offers from Wyoming and Air Force). So this next challenge is more of the same for him.
“I’ll continue to play with that (chip on my shoulder) and always have something to prove out there on the field,” Gentry said. “… It’s a great opportunity. It really sucks to see two great players like that go down and so early in the season as well. I’m just going to prepare and just work hard in practice and continue to better my game and listen to the coaches and do what I’m told.”