You have used all of your free pageviews.

Please subscribe to access more content.

Learn More
Already a subscriber? Sign in here.

Subscribe for unlimited access.

To continue viewing the content you love, please sign in or create a new account

Learn More
Already a subscriber? Sign in here.

Subscribe for unlimited access.

Learn More
Already a subscriber? Sign in here.

Know Your Bears — The Wide Receivers

Kevin White (catching a pass vs. the Lions last season) has played in just four games in two NFL seasons because of injuries. He had 19 receptions for 187 yards and no touchdowns last season. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)

Fourth in a position-by-position series of training-camp capsules on every player on the Bears’ 90-man roster. The Bears open training camp July 27 at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais.


Wide receiver Third year

6-3, 216 West Virginia

Acquired: First-round draft pick (No. 7 overall), 2015.

Age: 25.

NFL experience: Four games (four starts) in two seasons.

Background: The second wide receiver taken in the 2015 draft (behind Alabama’s Amari Cooper by the Raiders), White has played only four games in his first two NFL seasons because of injuries — a stress fracture forced him to miss the 2015 season; and a fractured fibula/sprained ankle limited him to four games last season.

Notable: Coming off a season-ending injury in 2015, White had 19 receptions for 187 yards (9.8 per catch) with no touchdowns in four games last season. His longest play was a 32-yard reception against the Cowboys in Week 3.

The skinny: Second-biggest X-factor behind Mike Glennon. Even when healthy, White was expected to be a work in progress as he hones his route-running skills and learns the nuances of playing wide receiver at the NFL level. He’s still presumed to be the athlete he was when he was drafted. If so, he can be a revelation this season, a big reason why the Bears win more games than most people think. But with an unproven quarterback in an unproven offense led by an unproven coordinator and with few established skill players, White likely will have to be an awfully quick learner to become an impact player.



Wide receiver Third year

6-3, 207 Illinois State

Acquired: Signed as an undrafted free agent, 2015.

Age: 24.

NFL experience: 25 games (10 starts) in two seasons.

Background: Made the 53-man roster as an undrafted free agent in 2015 and played in 11 games (11 receptions, 120 yards, no touchdowns). After being inactive in Weeks 1-2, Meredith emerged as a productive player and potential building block in 2016 (66-888, 13.5, 4), with four 100-yard games, including 9-130, 1 TD vs. the Colts and 9-135, 1 TD vs. the Redskins. Led Bears in receiving.

Notable: In the four games Alshon Jeffery did not play, Meredith had 15 receptions for 207 yards (13.8 avg.) and 1 TD. He had nine or more receptions in four games and at least one reception of 24 or more yards in 10 of 14 games in 2016.

The skinny: An underrated player who learns well, Meredith figures to benefit from a full training camp and preseason as an established receiver, presumably with a quarterback he’ll be with all season. The next step is no sure thing, though. Missed the last two weeks of the offseason program after suffering a thumb injury, but is expected to be ready for training camp.




Wide receiver Seventh year

6-0, 204 Massachusetts

Acquired: Signed as a free agent, 2017.

Age: 30.

NFL experience: 70 games (53 starts) in six seasons.

Background: Signed by the Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2010, Cruz was an immediate hit in the preseason but played only three games as a rookie because of a hamstring injury. He blossomed in 2011 (82-1,536, nine TDs) and made the Pro Bowl in 2012 (86-1,092, 10). After signing a five-year, $46 million contract in 2013, his career was short-circuited by a knee injury, which limited him to six games in 2014-15. With the ascent of Odell Beckham, Cruz’s role diminished in 2016 (39-586, 1).

Notable: Though his production dropped coming off the injury last season, Cruz still averaged 15.0 yards per catch, with receptions of 48, 46, 40, 37, 37 and 34 yards. And all his big catches came when the game was within a touchdown.

The skinny: With a one-year contract and $1.5 million guaranteed, this is a virtual free roll on a formerly productive receiver. Cruz, who had a knack for getting open with the Giants, obviously is motivated to regain his Pro Bowl status and figures to get every chance to do that on a team desperate for a big-play wide receiver.



Wide receiver Sixth year

6-0, 211 Louisville

Acquired: Signed as a free agent, 2014.

Age: 28.

NFL experience: 44 games (five starts) in five seasons.

Background: Signed by the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent in 2012, Bellamy played in 12 games over his first three seasons with the Chiefs, Redskins and Bears. He played in all 16 games the last two seasons with the Bears, with 19 receptions for 224 yards and two touchdowns in 2015 and 19 receptions for 282 yards and one touchdown in 2016.

Notable: While Bellamy has had issues with dropped passes, he also is a valuable, versatile four-phase special-teams contributor. He had 10 special-teams tackles in 2015 and five last season.

The skinny: Though he’s a great locker-room guy, plays on special teams and showed potential as a receiver, Bellamy faces a tough challenge to make the roster this season. While the Bears haven’t upgraded with proven home-run hitters, they have upgraded with players who do what Bellamy does.



Wide receiver Second season

6-1, 200 Central Michigan

Acquired: Signed as a free agent, 2017.

Age: 24.

NFL Experience: No regular-season games.

Background: Consistently productive player at Central Michigan — averaged 51 receptions for 925 yards, 18.1 yards per catch, 9.3 touchdowns in four seasons, with eight touchdown catches or more in each season, including 13 as a senior in 2014. Signed by the Chargers as a priority free agent after the 2015 draft, Davis spent the regular season on the practice squad of the Chargers, Jets, Bills and Jets again. Retired in August 2016 before signing with the Bears.

Notable: The Wheaton-Warrenville South product — who starred on the Tigers’ 14-0 state-championship team in 2010 — is the older brother of Titans rookie WR Corey Davis, the fifth overall pick in the 2017 draft.

The skinny: Davis has all the tools to become a productive wide receiver — speed, size, quickness, acceleration, run-after-catch, etc. But it remains to be seen if this is the right spot at the right time. Blocking ability and versatility help his long-shot cause.



Wide receiver Fifth year

5-11, 189 Oregon State

Acquired: Signed as a free agent, 2017.

Age: 27.

NFL experience: 47 games (22 starts) in four seasons.

Background: A third-round draft pick (79th overall) by the Steelers in 2013, Wheaton averaged 14.1 yards per catch (107-1,508) with eight touchdowns in four seasons in Pittsburgh. He played only three games last season because of a shoulder injury that required surgery.

Notable: Wheaton is a former prep track star who ran track at Oregon State. He ran 400-meter relays with Brandin Cooks, who was drafted by the Saints when Ryan Pace was the Saints’ director of player personnel. He had touchdown receptions of 72 yards (from Michael Vick) and 69 yards (from Ben Roethlisberger) with the Steelers in 2015.

The skinny: With a two-year, $11 million contract that includes $6 million guaranteed for 2017, Wheaton is a more expensive “roll of the dice” for Pace. He was cleared medically in June, but still has to prove he not only is healthy but can stay healthy. If he’s right, he gives the Bears a dimension they haven’t had in recent seasons. But a lot of other things have to go right for him to be an impact player.



Wide receiver Sixth year

5-10, 191 Baylor

Acquired: Signed as a free agent, 2017.

Age: 27.

NFL experience: 66 games (41 starts) in five seasons.

Background: A prolific receiver with Robert Griffin III at Baylor, Wright was a first-round draft pick (20th overall) of the Titans in 2012 but has had hit-and-miss success at best in five NFL seasons. His reception total dropped from 94 to 57 to 36 to 29 the last four seasons. He had 29 receptions for 416 yards and three touchdowns in 2016.

Notable: Wright had his best season in the NFL when Dowell Loggains was the Titans’ offensive coordinator — 94 receptions for 1,079 yards (11.5 per catch) and two touchdowns in 2013. His receptions dropped after Loggains left, but his touchdowns went up — six in 2014 before his opportunities diminished.

The skinny: Wright showed flashes of chemistry with Mike Glennon and familiarity with Loggains’ offense in offseason practices and could be an early star in training camp. He’s a great athlete — he was a state champion long jumper and triple jumper in high school — with playmaking ability. But as the Tennessee experience proved, he has to be in the right place at the right time. Loggains or not, it remains to be seen if this is it.



Wide receiver/kick returner Sixth year

6-0, 205 Florida

Acquired: Signed as a free agent, 2015.

Age: 28.

NFL experience: 37 games (six starts) in five seasons.

Background: Signed by the Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2012, Thompson has made his biggest impact in the NFL as a kick returner — returns of 74 and 64 yards with the Bears, 49 and 47 with the Ravens. He nearly doubled his career receiving total last season with the Bears when he caught 22 passes for 249 yards and his first two NFL receiving touchdowns.

Notable: Thompson had the biggest game of his career against the Packers last season at Soldier Field — eight receptions for 110 yards in a 30-27 loss at the buzzer. His previous best game was 50 yards against the Bills with the Ravens in 2013.

The skinny: Thompson proved he can produce as a receiver in a pinch, but he’ll have his hands full winning the kick-return job. Though the Bears have an unproven wide-receiver corps, they brought in better prospects who likely could push Thompson into the background on offense.



Wide receiver Second year

5-10, 185 Western Michigan

Acquired: Seventh-round draft pick (230th overall) in 2016.

Age: 23.

NFL experience: Three games (no starts) in one season.

Background: Left Western Michigan with a year of eligibility after prolific junior season (108-1,367, 12.7, 13 TDs). Impressive in training-camp practices but underwhelming in preseason games, he was cut and signed to the practice squad. Promoted to the active roster in Week 13, he caught one pass in three games, but that was nullified by a penalty.

Notable: After playing in three consecutive games in Weeks 13-15, Braverman was inactive for Weeks 16 and 17 last season and had surgery for an undisclosed injury in January.

The skinny: An intriguing player because of his size and similarity in style to Wes Welker, Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman, Braverman has fallen a bit because of his lack of production when he was active and his absence at offseason practices, presumably related to his surgery. But he’s kind of a quirky guy, so you never know what to expect. He recovered from an ACL injury in college to post big numbers in 2014 and 2015. You can’t count him out.



Wide receiver Rookie

6-2, 210 Wyoming

Acquired: Signed as an undrafted free agent, 2017.

Age: 22.

NFL experience: None.

Background: A two-star recruit out of Grandview High School in Aurora, Colorado, who had two scholarship offers, Gentry made huge strides at Wyoming. He averaged 18.4 yards per catch in his final two seasons, including 72 receptions for 1,326 yards (18.4 avg.) and 14 touchdowns as a senior in 2016. He was averaging 18.3 yards per catch as a junior (37-678, 4 TDs) before suffering a shoulder injury after seven games.

Notable: Gentry played with four starting quarterbacks in his four seasons at Wyoming. He came up big in big games — 7-124, 1 TD at Nebraska; 7-113, 2 TDs in a Poinsettia Bowl loss to Brigham Young. Gentry ran a 4.46 40 and had a 38-inch vertical at his pro day.

The skinny: Though he has been overlooked most of his career, the sturdily built Gentry looks the part of a tough NFL receiver. The challenge is to parlay his intriguing skill set at a much higher level while at or near the back of the line among a slew of Bears receivers with a lot to prove. Definitely a player to watch at camp.



Wide receiver Fifth year

6-2, 208 Louisiana State

Acquired: Signed to a reserve/futures contract, 2017.

Age: 26.

NFL experience: 64 games (33 starts) in four seasons.

Background: A second-round draft pick (63rd overall) by the Giants in 2012, Randle was an underachiever playing opposite productive receivers (Victor Cruz, Odell Beckham) and with an established quarterback in Eli Manning. Scored six touchdowns in 2013 (41-611, 14.9), had 71 receptions for 938 receiving yards in 2014 (but only three touchdowns) and scored eight touchdowns in 2015 (57-797, 14.0) but never could put it all together. Signed with the Eagles in 2016 but was released in the cut-down to 53 and did not play in the 2016 season.

Notable: Randle caught five touchdowns in his final six games with the Giants in 2015 — including six receptions for 159 yards (26.5 avg.) and two touchdowns in his final two games.

The skinny: Yet another roll of the dice. If Randle couldn’t make it in New York, the odds are against him here. But he’s a superb athlete — the No. 1 wide-receiver recruit in the nation in 2009 — so there’s always the chance he could blossom in the right place at the right time.

Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash



Know Your Bears — The Tight Ends

Know Your Bears — The Running Backs

Back to top ↑