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Adam Shaheen, playmaker: ‘If he touches the ball, he’s catching it’

Bears rookie tight end Adam Shaheen, the second-round draft pick from Division II Ashland (Ohio), has not looked overwhelmed by NFL-level competition in the early practices at training camp at Olivet Nazarene. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

BOURBONNAIS — It’s hard to watch Adam Shaheen without getting carried away. The Bears’ 6-6, 270-pound rookie runs, changes direction, gets open and catches the ball in traffic like a tight end deserving of the nickname “Baby Gronk.”

Five practices into training camp, Shaheen is much more “Baby” than “Gronk.” But he’s one of those players who seems to always give you something to get excited about. On Monday, it was two touchdown catches in the red-zone drill — showing off his magnificent hands on both plays.

“He’s a big target and has good body control for a big man,” coach John Fox said. “I’ve liked what I’ve seen. Even his point-of-attack blocking I’ve been impressed with. He’s got soft hands and good body control. If he touches the ball, he’s catching it.”

Quarterback Mike Glennon put it even more succinctly.

“He’s a big man running down the field fast,” Glennon said. “He does a great job of using his body. He has a tall frame, which makes it easy to throw to.”

As Shaheen showed, that size and those hands figure to come in handy in the red zone, where he has the potential to be a matchup nightmare.

“He has size and ball skills,” tight ends coach Frank Smith said. “It’s like that kid in high school — that Division I kid who’s 6-6, and everyone else is 5-10. They stick out. He has that size [mismatch] ability.”

Shaheen, who virtually came out of nowhere to become the Bears’ second-round draft pick (45th overall) out of Division II Ashland (Ohio) University, has a lot to learn about playing tight end in the NFL to become the force he has the potential to be. But he’s not in over his head in the least.

“I’ve adjusted well [to an NFL workload],” Shaheen said. “The biggest difference is the playbook. When you don’t have school, you have more time to get in the books. [And] they take really good care of your body so that you can go hard.”

Though the transition to the NFL will be a challenge, Shaheen has one other factor in his favor: He learns well.

“Adam has a lot of good natural instincts for the position,” Smith said. “He catches the ball extremely well. A lot of the techniques in blocking are kind of new to him, so he’s just learning. You can see he’s a player that once you explain something to him, he grasps it very quickly. I’m excited with his progress to this point.”

Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

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