Depending on the way your mind works, Kevin White playing into the second half of the third preseason game was either the perfect time to give him much-needed snaps or a reflection of how low he sits on the Bears’ hierarchy of receivers.
While both might be true, coach Matt Nagy chose the former description.
“It’s a good sign for him,” Nagy said this week. “We sometimes get on these rep counts with guys, and everyone’s a little bit different.
‘‘We felt like it was a good game for him to really get his juices going and to see what he can do out there for a longer period of time. It just worked that way. We’ll continue to do that.”
Given rookie Anthony Miller’s sizzling preseason, White might rank no higher than fourth on the Bears’ list of receivers — and sixth on the pass-catcher roster behind tight end Trey Burton and running back Tarik Cohen.
The Bears owe the 2015 first-round pick guaranteed money, and that’ll work in his favor when they determine a roster spot Sept. 1. Still, the team wants to make him prove he belongs.
In his first year at Halas Hall, Nagy has little film of White to go on. Injuries have limited him to five regular-season games; he only has finished three.
“We gotta be able to know, ‘Can this guy help us out when it matters most?’ ” Nagy said.
In that sense, the all-important dress rehearsal Saturday against the Chiefs will be the most important game White has played as a pro.
The Bears have spent all offseason nurturing White’s confidence. They think it’s starting to pay off.
“I thought he played fast; I thought he played confident,” backup quarterback Chase Daniel said after the Bears’ 24-23 victory against the Broncos. “And that is his thing. When he can play fast and play confident and knows what he’s doing, it means a lot. He showed some flashes out there.
“He’s going to get some more game time coming up [against] Kansas City. We’ll go from there.”
White caught two passes on four targets for 15 yards against Denver. Lost in the box score: On third-and-15 in the first quarter, White beat rookie cornerback Isaac Yiadom deep down the right sideline. Mitch Trubisky underthrew him, and White fought back for the ball, drawing a 37-yard pass-interference penalty that led to the Bears’ first touchdown.
“The corner was playing high over the top, so if he doesn’t interfere, I believe Kevin comes down with the ball,” Trubisky said. “We’re just going to keep getting the ball in his hands. He’s going to get more and more comfortable along with these other receivers, the more reps we can get as a unit and as an offense. Just continue to practice this scheme and get better and better at it.
“But Kevin’s done a great job, and he showed glimpses [against the Broncos]. The more he gets the ball, the more confident he gets, so it’s been great to see him.”
The Bears need to see more of it.
“He adds a lot of speed to the game,” Miller said. “He opens a lot of eyes on the defense.
‘‘Guys have to be aware because he will go deep on you and open the ‘D’ up. That opens a lot up to the offense, as well.”