Eight targets. Three catches. Twelve yards.
Bears wide receiver Kevin White’s preseason stats don’t scream star-in-the-making.
White’s low production makes you wonder what’s ahead for the seventh overall pick from the 2015 draft once the regular season opens Sept. 11 against the Texans.
On Saturday, White played into the third quarter of the Bears’ 23-7 loss to the Chiefs at Soldier Field. He made one catch for three yards, which came on a quick screen when the Bears faced second-and-16 from their own 22-yard line.
White’s last two plays also were disappointing. With the Bears moving the ball against the Chiefs’ reserves, White dropped a quick screen on second-and-10 from the Chiefs’ 30. On the next play, Cutler overthrew White toward the sideline. Later, Cutler indicated it was the result of a miscue by White.
“I’m just trying to get better each and every day,” White said. “I’m really not worried about stats and scoring touchdowns and things like that right now. I’m worried about my technique and little things.”
So how’s his technique coming along?
“It’s getting better,” White said. “I’ve got a lot of correcting to do. But as long as we get it down by Week 1, we’ll be OK.”
The truth is we don’t know what White will be once the games become meaningful. Preseason play can be an awful indicator for the regular season.
In 2014, Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. didn’t play in any preseason games as a rookie because of an ailing hamstring. He also missed the first month of the regular season. But all the missed time didn’t prevent Beckham from catching 91 passes for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns that season.
In the same year, Bills receiver Sammy Watkins put up unimpressive totals in the preseason as a rookie, making three receptions for 21 yards. He had 65 catches for 982 yards and six touchdowns in the regular season.
Raiders receiver Amari Cooper, who was drafted three picks ahead of White, made eight catches for 124 yards in the preseason last year. When the games mattered, Cooper had 72 receptions for 1,070 yards and six touchdowns.
Practice also has been a different story for White. Receivers coach Curtis Johnson might bark at him incessantly, but he has made highlight-reel plays. White also was one of the best performers during the joint practices with the Patriots.
“I’m really not worried about anything,” said White, who is unlikely to play in the fourth preseason game Thursday against the Browns. “Just trying to get better.”
The Bears also could be limiting what White does in preseason games. Coach John Fox is paranoid when it comes to putting stuff on film for his opponents, so why would he want the NFL to have good film of White?
Game-planning and advance scouting are limited for the preseason, anyway.
“I don’t know if anyone counts up the catches and stuff like that [in the preseason],” receiver Alshon Jeffery said. “We’re just out there playing football. When your number is called, you’ve got to make the play.
“For me, [White is] playing pretty well. He just has to keep getting better.”
Being better means being patient with White. His elite physical tools might have returned after he lost his rookie season to shin surgery. But it will take time for those tools to turn into significant production.
Cutler said twice that White would experience more growing pains, essentially because his route-running was limited in college at West Virginia and he sat out last season.
“It’s just how it is,” Cutler said. “We’re working with him, and he’s doing everything he possibly can to work through it and be where he’s supposed to be. …[But] he’s a good kid. He’s going to do well.”
The question is when.