1985 Bears Coverage: Receivers earn ‘a closer look’

SHARE 1985 Bears Coverage: Receivers earn ‘a closer look’
SHARE 1985 Bears Coverage: Receivers earn ‘a closer look’

Every day of the 2015 Chicago Bears season, Chicago Sun-Times Sports will revisit its coverage 30 years ago during the 1985 Bears’ run to a Super Bowl title.

Receivers earn ‘a closer look’

Herb Gould

Originally published Aug. 18, 1985

Pre-season games. To most people, they’re yawners.

They’re mostly opportunities for coaches to see who is going to be around for the real games.

But while some fans may have been nodding off, there were only nods of approval on the Bear sideline for tight end Tim Wrightman, a free agent who reeled in three catches last night in the Bears’ 24-13 loss to Indianapolis at Soldier Field.

And for Jack Cameron, a second-year wide receiver/kick returner, who also improved his chances to catch on when he snagged a Steve Fuller pass for a 37-yard touchdown.

Mike Ditka noticed. “I’d say we found a few more people we’re going to have to take a closer look at,” the Bear coach said.

Ditka clone?

When somebody mentioned to Wrightman – whose catches, all in the third quarter, were good for 16, 16 and 14 yards – that he looked a little like an old Bear tight end named Ditka, Wrightman smiled and

said, “I don’t know about that. I was too young to see him play, and he

won’t let us pull out the films.”

As for dragging would-be tacklers, Wrightman said, “Basically, that’s the way I have to play. I don’t have the foot speed some of the other guys have.”

In a way, this was a homecoming for Wrightman, who is among three returnees and two free agents battling for at best three tight-end jobs. The Bears made him their third-round draft choice three years ago, but Wrightman opted for the USFL Chicago Blitz/Arizona Wranglers, who also played at Soldier Field for two seasons.

“Yeah, it was like a different place,” said the former UCLA stand out, who had only six catches in three injury-riddled years with the Blitz. “I think the most people we had was 40,000 one Monday night, and that was for Herschel Walker.”

The rest of the time, the Blitz looked up at rows of plastic seats.

“Actually, most of my USFL experience was in dealing with front-office people,” said Wrightman, who has cheerfully accepted his underdog role.

“If I had come here three years ago, maybe now I’d be fighting for a starting job, instead of fighting to make the team. But I don’t want to look back.”

Last week’s loss at St. Louis was Wrightman’s first game in two years. “I was feeling jittery,” he said. “I was afraid of making a mistake. There’s a lot of competition here. But if I play well, I think

I have a good chance.”

Not surprised

“Wrightman doesn’t surprise me,” Ditka said. “With him, what you see is what you get. I was impressed with the way he caught the ball. And then he ran over some people.”

Cameron, the only pre-season free agent to make last year’s team, wasn’t breathing any sighs of relief.

“I think Jack bears another look,” Ditka said of Cameron, who was converted from defensive back to wide receiver last summer after his 97-yard kickoff return for a pre-season TD helped win him a job.

“He’s got more speed and strength than people realize. If he learns to catch the ball with his hands, he’s got a chance,” Ditka said.

As for making the team, Cameron knows his assignment. “When I’m a receiver, catch the ball. It’s just concentration,” he said. “And when I’m a kick returner, I just need to hit the seams.”

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