Kevin White or Javon Wims? Bears should keep both receivers
Subscribe for unlimited digital access.
Try one month for $1!
Subscribe for unlimited digital access. Try one month for $1!
It was a stutter-step in the right direction for Kevin White.
The maligned Bears receiver used a double move to beat Chiefs cornerback Orlando Scandrick for a 29-yard touchdown reception late in the first quarter of a 27-20 preseason victory Saturday against the Chiefs.
‘‘It felt good,’’ White said.
Only general manager Ryan Pace probably felt better about it. It was a highlight that made keeping his first-ever draft pick on the roster an easier decision.
White’s touchdown stood out because he needed to, especially on a day in which coach Matt Nagy decided to sit quarterback Mitch Trubisky and nearly every projected starter. If White’s place on the roster had been secure, he wouldn’t have played with backup quarterback Chase Daniel and other reserves.
‘‘I’m ready for these things that I want to happen further, the real thing,’’ said White, who had two catches for 33 yards. ‘‘But it was a good start.’’
It was a good play that shouldn’t be overshadowed by rookie receiver Javon Wims’ big day, either. Wims also improved his chances of making the 53-man roster by catching four passes for 114 yards and an impressive seven-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone. Wims, a seventh-round pick, also made 54- and 44-yard catches.
The Bears’ decision shouldn’t come down to keeping White or Wims; it should be whether to keep six receivers. Is keeping Josh Bellamy specifically for special teams crucial if they already have running back Benny Cunningham and defensive backs Sherrick McManis, Deon Bush and DeAndre Houston-Carson (broken forearm) as special-teams stalwarts?
If the Bears are going to subscribe to a better-safe-than-sorry approach, it makes sense to maintain a deep receivers room. Bellamy was one of the Bears’ top reserves the last few seasons.
Daniel said that Saturday was an example of Wims and White grasping the offense. He checked to a corner route that led to Wims’ touchdown — ‘‘We saw something in the coverage we liked,’’ Daniel said — and White’s touchdown came from a bunch formation.
‘‘A lot of the stuff that we’re installing is maybe just variations of different plays we have, so they feel comfortable with it,’’ Daniel said. ‘‘That’s the key. When they play fast and they know what they’re doing, as you saw today, it’s pretty cool.’’
That’s particularly true for White, who saw the Bears sign receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel in free agency and draft Anthony Miller in the second round. Robinson and Miller didn’t play against the Chiefs.
To be fair, the Chiefs signed Scandrick less than a week ago. But White’s ability to beat him with his route-running, not his athleticism and speed, is noteworthy. White sold a curl at the top of his route, and Scandrick, an 11-year veteran, bit on his move. White then raced past him for a wide-open touchdown.
For White, who has played in only five games in his first three seasons because of serious injuries, scoring his first NFL touchdown was a message.
‘‘I guess it proves to the outside world or people that maybe don’t have a lot of confidence in me that I can do it in practice or a game, whether it’s the preseason or a real game,’’ White said.
Nagy is on board with that.
‘‘I love underdogs,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘When you have an underdog that fights his tail off to improve, and when people don’t believe in him and he proves the people that do believe in him right, there’s nothing better than that.
‘‘Yeah, it was one play. We’ve got to evaluate the rest of his play. But I was really happy that he was able to get that touchdown at home, in front of his home fans. He worked hard for that.’’