After grinding his way back, Bears WR Anthony Miller eager to show what he can do
‘‘I wasn’t myself the entire  season,’’ Miller said. ‘‘So you’ll get that this season.’’
BOURBONNAIS — When Bears receiver Anthony Miller talked about the ‘‘Memphis grind’’ that nurtured him into an NFL prospect after being drafted in the second round in 2018, it sounded like a local twist on a good, old-fashioned work ethic.
As it turns out, Miller’s toughness was front and center in his rookie season with the Bears. He played through an injured left shoulder that hampered him after suffering a dislocation in Week 3 against the Cardinals.
The 5-11, 190-pound Miller missed only one game — the next week against the Buccaneers, when Mitch Trubisky threw six touchdowns passes — and contributed where he could. He finished with 33 receptions for 423 yards and seven touchdowns.
After catching four passes for 25 yards and a touchdown in the final five regular-season games, Miller caught three passes for 34 yards against the Eagles in the NFC wild-card game. But it was clear we weren’t seeing all of him.
‘‘That was all heart,’’ Miller said after practice Friday at Olivet Nazarene University. ‘‘You can’t really put a percentage on that. But I was definitely busted up. I wasn’t myself the entire season. So you’ll get that this season.’’
Miller had offseason surgery to repair the shoulder and reported to camp 100 percent healthy. Asked how his shoulder feels, he said resolutely, ‘‘It feels like your shoulder.’’
Now Miller is ready to go into the 2019 season at full speed. Playing through pain allowed him to get invaluable experience in the offense.
‘‘It helped a lot,’’ Miller said. ‘‘Growing up, I’ve always been around tough people, tough environments. So I guess that has influenced me, as well. Being in Memphis, we did play through a lot. You’ve just got to stick through things sometimes.’’
The Bears obviously have to keep Miller healthy this season, and coach Matt Nagy indicated the team will be careful with how they use him after the surgery.
‘‘Everyone in here knows how tough he is,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘He’s as competitive as most people I’ve ever met, so it doesn’t surprise me that he wants to play.
‘‘But we have to balance to make sure it’s safe. When you do things the right way and you handle those injuries the right way, like we did, you use that to educate him going forward. And he’s done a great job rehabbing it and getting it right. You can see when he’s out here . . . he’s flying around. Mentally for him, that was a big thing in the offseason.’’
Miller’s confidence might exceed his toughness. So he’s ready to show what he can do in a Bears offense that is maturing with him.
‘‘I’m very excited because now, not only am I more accustomed to the offense, the rest of the guys are, as well,’’ Miller said. ‘‘Mitch knows the playbook way better. We do, as well. It’s just gonna be a way smoother season than last year, even though we did really good last year.’’