Daniel Braverman wasn’t allowed to stay on the field after practice Wednesday to catch extra balls; the trainers wanted him to stop working, for once, and jump in the cold tub.
The rookie wide receiver doubled up Thursday, then, catching sky-high “kicks” from a machine and then line drives to simulate passes.
“I think every day you’re here, you’re on the bubble,” he said. “And I think to have the attitude that you are on the bubble is almost a little better — to keep you on your toes and make sure you always stay focused.”
In that sense, he doesn’t consider Saturday a referendum on his preseason performance. Bears starters will play at least the first half against the Chiefs; even with injuries and illness mounting, coach John Fox said quarterback Jay Cutler’s playing time will be “business as usual.”
The third exhibition game carries an all-important moniker, but it’s not everything.
“You know, we’ve got some guys that we’ve evaluated on a lot of football plays before the third preseason game,” Fox said. “So albeit, it is important, we have a pretty good idea about some of our players.”
The Bears like Braverman, the seventh-round pick from Western Michigan. He was the King of Bourbonnais, drawing raves for his training camp catches and routes — yet totaled only two catches for seven yards in two preseason games.
With final cuts due Sept. 3, Braverman’s niche on the roster isn’t yet clear. Complicating matters: if the Bears hope to get him to the practice squad — and not signed away by another team — they might prefer he not have dominant exhibition game footage.
Still, the receiver is trying not to distinguish between performances.
“You gotta treat practice like a game,” Braverman. “Even Alshon (Jeffery), he treats practice like a game — and he’s not getting cut. It’s taking that mindset — you practice how you play.”
Whether Braverman plays some with the starting group could depend on the availability of Eddie Royal, who went into the league’s concussion protocol Aug. 1 and has yet to practice in full. Braverman said he’s made gains lining up outside, but he, like Royal, is more of a prototypical slot receiver. Deonte Thompson’s ankle injury opens up an opportunity for him to return kicks, too.
“As long as I’m on the field,” he said, “there’s an opportunity for me to do anything.”