It was only one preseason play, but it said a lot about rookie wide receiver Anthony Miller, quarterback Mitch Trubisky and the potential of the Bears’ offense under coach Matt Nagy.
On first down from the Broncos’ 43-yard line late in the first quarter Saturday, Trubisky rolled to his left and threw on the run to Miller, who made a leaping catch near the sideline, with cornerback Bradley Roby reaching up in tight coverage and cornerback Tramaine Brock leaping from the other side to attempt a deflection.
The 19-yard gain was a ‘‘wow’’ play that showed off just about everything that made Miller worth trading up for the 51st pick in the draft: his route-running, his leaping ability, his hands, his body control and his nose for a 50-50 ball. It was the kind of catch a Packers receiver makes on a pass by Aaron Rodgers on a winning drive in the fourth quarter.
In that vein, the play also indicated the trust Trubisky is developing in Miller. That type of throw is big trouble to a less qualified receiver. Their confidence is growing with every play.
‘‘It’s growing a lot,’’ Miller said. ‘‘This last game, it just helped tremendously as far as getting our chemistry down, seeing where my head is at, seeing where his head’s at [on] every play. We’re just getting our chemistry down right now. It’s not going to happen overnight. Coming this season, it’s going to be something to see.’’
Miller, in case you can’t tell, is a young man in a hurry. But he’s also aware of the work it’s going to take to develop that connection with Trubisky.
‘‘It helps because it’s just going to go way smoother in the game,’’ Miller said. ‘‘Like, thousands of fans in the stands. It’s loud. We have that peace of mind that he knows where I’m going to be on the field, so he can give me the ball whenever. And I just tell him what I see on certain plays, and he’ll remember that when that play gets called again.’’
With virtually every move he has made, Miller has lived up to expectations. And now he can’t wait for the stakes to be higher. He paid due respect to the preseason when he was asked whether he’s ready to fast-forward to the opener Sept. 9 against the Packers.
‘‘I think every opportunity you get to play or showcase your talent, that’s a big opportunity,’’ Miller said. ‘‘But I believe I’m ready to play the regular season. I’m ready to strap it up versus the Packers, and I’m just ready to show my stuff.’’
Though it’s easy to get fooled by a rookie in the preseason, it’s hard to argue with him. The kid looks like the real deal. And he looks ready to go now. Will he be as good in the regular season as he looks today? Nagy thinks Miller’s confidence gives him a good chance.
‘‘It’s not a cockiness; it’s a confidence in himself and his skills,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘A lot of times, he knows that if that ball’s up there one-on-one — and you saw the catch he had two-on-one — he feels like he’s talented enough to go up and make a play.
‘‘He made another great play on a shallow cross [for a 13-yard gain on a pass from Chase Daniel that was thrown behind him] where he caught the ball, made a nice, strong stiff-arm and got the first down. You can feel that.
‘‘He’s a very powerful guy. He has a good burst to him, and he’s got excellent hands. There’s that swag he has. I don’t ever want him to lose that. Control it and do it the right way, and you’ll have a very successful career.’’