Bears won’t ‘harp’ on WR Kevin White in camp: ‘We just want him to be him’
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BOURBONNAIS — Coach Matt Nagy doesn’t treat every player the same, and he doesn’t want his staff to, either. Nagy’s tack with the Bears’ most mercurial player, then, is telling.
Wide receiver Kevin White has always been his own toughest critic. Nagy doesn’t see the benefit of reinforcing any negative thoughts.
“We’re not gonna harp on anything that happens — a dropped ball, a route run the wrong way, a wrong split, a missed assignment,” Nagy said Saturday after the team’s first open-to-the-public practice. “We don’t harp on any of that with any of the players — and in particular with him.
“We just want him to be him and play — play fast. And he’s done that so far. Again, it’s going to be up to him to do it in the preseason games and see where it takes him.”
White needs the work, having played only 238 regular-season snaps — and finished exactly three games — in an injury-ravaged three-year career. The 2015 first-round pick has not caught a regular-season pass from quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
The next six weeks before cutdown day are critical to White’s career. The Bears owe him guaranteed money, which increases the odds of him making the team Sept. 1. But he’ll have to play well first in the last year of his rookie contract. After declining White’s fifth-year option, the Bears prepared for life without him by signing Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel and drafting Anthony Miller. Given his injury history, anything White gives them will be gravy.
“Every year, you want to get what you deserve,” White said. “All the hard work that I’ve put in, I want to pay off and things like that. But you can’t control any of that. Just roll with the punches and try to work hard every day. Hopefully everything will work out.”
After suffering a stress fracture in his shin, a broken fibula and a broken shoulder the last three years, White looks as physically strong as ever during training camp.
“Kevin White brings a lot to the table,” Robinson said. “Being such a big, physical specimen, at any point on the field and at any point in time, I think we can possibly get six points on the board. Maybe off a deep ball. Maybe off a catch-and-run. Anything like that.”
White, who can line up all over the field in Nagy’s offense, ran only a limited number of routes at West Virginia. He said he has been able to pick up the West Coast-spread hybrid attack quickly.
“This coaching staff will teach you what to look for, when the ball’s coming on which plays,” he said. “It’s a lot smarter.
‘‘That can help set your routes up a little differently if you know the ball’s coming or what kind of defense you’re looking for.”
White spent the month before training camp working on his route-running — particularly, his footwork at the top of it — in Southern California. His two brothers came with him: linebacker/safety Kyzir, who was drafted in the fourth round by the Chargers, and Ka’Raun, a rookie wide receiver signed by the Bengals.
“It was cool to know that we’re all in the NFL and training for a purpose,” White said. “We always trained together when we were growing up, but training on this type of scale, there’s a little bit of extra juice and extra motivation.”
The brothers always dreamed of playing in the NFL together. White dreamed of how his NFL career would go, too, before the detours.
He imagines he’ll appreciate success more because of it.
“It’s tough,” he said. “But it’ll just be that much sweeter.”