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Why the Bears want WR Kevin White to stop being so hard on himself

BOURBONNAIS — When Kevin White stresses about training-camp ups and downs, he doesn’t have a talk with himself. He knows how that will turn out.

“I talk to my teammates,” the  receiver said this week after practice. “Because if I talked to myself, I’m too hard on myself. I think it’s a good thing, never having complacency and never happy at whatever I did on the field. It’s always something I can get better at.”

White will huddle with quarterback Mitch Trubisky and center Cody Whitehair, two players, he said, who are wired with the same self-critical streak.

“It’s a fight every day,” White said. “Mitch says, ‘One good, one bad, move on.’ You try to move on. But it’s hard.”

Bears receiver Kevin White can't hold onto a pass as he is defended by Titans cornerback Adoree' Jackson in the first half last preseason. (AP)

The Bears insist he try.

“I think right now the biggest thing is to get rid of that — and we’re working on that,” receivers coach Mike Furrey said. “He didn’t need to be a critic to himself. I’ll do that — and I’ll do it in a positive way.”

Furrey tells White to worry about what matters — playing fast and making plays. His words have started to stick in recent weeks, and White’s practices have improved, Furrey said.

“You can be hard on yourself to the point where it starts to de-cripple you,” Furrey said, making up a word. “You can’t do that. You can’t come out here and play with fear. You can’t come out here and judge yourself.

“You gotta come out here and play hard. Do what we ask you to do. Do it full speed. Be so entailed in the routes and exactly what you’re supposed to do, and entailed in catching football, that you’re not going to worry about any of that stuff. We’ll deal with that when we go off the field and get into [the] film room. Right now, let’s just go play ball and relax. And I think he’s done that.”

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Mindset is one thing, but how does a coach change a player’s personality?

“Sometimes we can get too competitive where it becomes a distraction,” Furrey said. “And that’s where we’re just trying to let that go and say, ‘Listen, you just come out here and do what we ask you to do and do it full speed. And catch the football and make plays.’ ”

The former first-round pick has spent most of his time injured — he has finished just three regular-season games in three seasons — that it’s easy to put too much stock in his training-camp performance, which has been inconsistent.

Entering the final year of his rookie deal, White slots in as the Bears’ fourth receiver — behind Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller — assuming he makes the team.

“I want to improve on my game every single day,” White said. “Whether that’s blocking, whether that’s details, whether that’s making spectacular catches, I want to be the best player on the field at all times. I want to be the best version of myself. Some days are better than others.”

Whenever White plays in his first preseason game — Thursday against the Bengals is likely — the Bears will be watching how he handles himself.

Confidence can be a powerful thing.

“I just think the biggest things are just getting comfortable in situations where he’s been uncomfortable, fearing things that he can’t control,” Furrey said. “He knows that, we know that, I know that and everybody knows that.

“And he’s just got to be able to walk inside that four-inch line and let it all go and just go have fun and do what we’re asking him to do and do it as a pro. . . . All that other stuff is going to go away. That’s just going to take reps in games — getting in there and doing it.”

Want your Bears training camp update without delay? Each day of summer practice, Sun-Times beat writers Patrick FinleyAdam Jahns and Mark Potash will share exclusive insights on the workout and interviews in a livestream conversation 1 p.m. daily through Aug. 12. Catch their live analysis and ask questions on Twitter using the hashtag “#BearsBeatLive” or send them directly to @suntimes_sports. Also, follow Sun-Times Sports on Periscope to be notified of each live report.