clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Eyeing the development of Bears second-round picks James Daniels, Anthony Miller

Bears WR Anthony Miller goes up for a pass that's intercepted by the Patriots. | Stacy Revere/Getty Images

After quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s ill-fated pass attempt to reserve lineman Bradley Sowell in the end zone Sunday, coach Matt Nagy opted for a straightforward call from the Patriots’ 2-yard line.

Nagy ran the ball with Jordan Howard and did so behind rookie left guard James Daniels.

Daniels and left tackle Charles Leno Jr. blocked defensive lineman Trey Flowers together, then Daniels came off to stop linebacker Elandon Roberts, who had shot through a gap. With Roberts blocked, Howard put his head down and scored.

‘‘Every game that [Daniels] plays is going to slowly get a little easier for him,’’ Nagy said.

The play was an example of Daniels’ development. The second-round pick is getting better. And so is receiver Anthony Miller, the Bears’ other second-round selection. Here’s a look at where the two rookies stand after six games.

Big game coming?

Miller, whom the Bears traded up to select 51st overall, had only two catches for 35 yards against the Patriots, but he played better than that. That’s why Trubisky made it a point to say he needs to get Miller the ball ‘‘a lot more.’’

Trubisky missed four throws to Miller, including three for possible touchdowns.

1. On first-and-10 from the Patriots’ 13 in the second quarter, Trubisky sailed a pass out of the end zone to Miller, who had separated himself from defensive back J.C. Jackson on a post route.

2. On second-and-10 from the Patriots’ 41 in the third quarter, Trubisky threw a pass behind Miller, who was open down the right seam.

3. On first-and-10 from the Patriots’ 35 in the fourth quarter, Trubisky was late on a throw to Miller on a corner route after he had beaten cornerback Jonathan Jones, who made an impressive one-handed interception.

4. On first-and-10 from the Bears’ 37 in the fourth quarter, Trubisky overthrew Miller, who had an open field in front of him after beating Jones off the line of scrimmage.

RELATED

Mitch Trubisky scrambling to find comfort zone as Bears’ QB

Is Jets rookie Sam Darnold perfect tonic for what ails Bears’ defense?

All of the above are examples of Miller’s progress as a route-runner. The next step is getting on the same page with Trubisky.

‘‘The dynamic of them in their timing and relationship isn’t 100 percent yet, but when that does get there, it’s going to be nice,’’ Nagy said.

It’s similar to the experiences Trubisky had to gain on the field with veterans Taylor Gabriel and Allen Robinson.

As young players, though, there also is an emphasis on Trubisky and Miller understanding the details of all the plays.

‘‘The way he runs routes and separates and sticks his foot in the ground, he’s definitely open a lot for this offense,’’ Trubisky said. ‘‘That’s a matchup I can look for going forward.’’

Fitting right in

For the third game in a row, Daniels, who was drafted with 39th pick, rotated at left guard with Eric Kush. And for the second consecutive game he played more, getting 44 snaps to Kush’s 38.

‘‘[The rotation] has been good because when I’m out on the field and [Kush is] watching, he tells me exactly what I did wrong on the previous series, what I can do better or what I did good,’’ Daniels said. ‘‘He’s watching my exact spot because when he goes in, he’s going to see the same looks and the same things.

‘‘When I get to the sideline, he’s giving me coaching points, and it’s the same thing with [offensive line coach Harry Hiestand]. It’s nice to be able to have that.’’

It’ll continue, too. Nagy made it sound as though the rotation will remain in place.

Nagy said Daniels recovers well when he is beaten but stressed he needs to keep facing different looks from different defenses.

‘‘There’s no concern in regards to the selfishness of that [rotation],’’ Nagy said. ‘‘They don’t have that, and Harry’s done a great job of bringing them along.

‘‘James is getting some valuable experience. It’s great for him to have that, and it’s even better for him to have a guy like Kush to support him.’’