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Chicago Bears: White showing both potential and inexperience in first camp

August 6, 2016

Kevin White has enjoyed his fair share of big plays and loud applause during the Bears’ stay in Bourbonnais.

There’s also been plenty of trial and error for the second-year wide receiver after missing his entire rookie season with a shin injury.

Right now, it’s all about keeping everything in perspective as White prepares to finally make his professional debut in just over month.

“It’s the name of the game,” White said. “Everything’s not going to be perfect. I’ve just got to keep my mind strong and continue to fight.

“It’s a good feeling having the fans behind you and then your teammates. But, like I said, I’ve just got to continue to push forward and continue to try and help the team the best way I can.”

Prior to the Bears selecting him seventh overall in the 2015 NFL Draft, White dazzled throughout his senior season at West Virginia with 109 receptions for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The stress fracture in his shin that required a metal rod be inserted and cost him all of last season doesn’t appear to have slowed the 24-year-old down.

White has hauled in impressive catch after catch this summer to earn praise from coaches and teammates, including from quarterback Jay Cutler following a long reception down the left sideline during Wednesday’s practice.

“He caught a ball down the sideline,” Cutler said. “He goes across the middle. He just flies across. He’s fearless.”

White remains far from a finished product — as everyone will admit.

The 6-foot-3-inch speedster ran a limited route tree at West Virginia, which has shown at times in camp. Teammates have needed to point or pull White into position on more than one occasion pre-snap.

“He comes from a program that really didn’t move him around very much,” wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson said. “Now he’s getting used to the formations. He’s getting used to the quarterbacks. He’s getting used to everything.

“I think, overall, just playing football, the knowledge of the game and all those things, he needs to improve on that. But he’s improving, and it’s going pretty fast.”

The Bears need White to progress quickly if the offense is going to improve on its 2015 performance.

They finished last season ranked 23rd in passing yards per game without White and with fellow receivers Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal each missing significant time.

Even with all three healthy, fans shouldn’t expect White to immediately emerge as a top-flight receiver.

His knowledge of the playbook will likely be an issue early on; though, the Bears can maximize his effectiveness in certain packages — look for many ‘go’ routes and screen plays.

“We’ll be able to take some shots with him,” Cutler said. “It’s going to make his life easier, too. It will get some corners off of him [and] will open some stuff underneath for some other guys.”

The rest will hopefully come with time, repeated reps and a lot of time in film review.

“He’s a work in progress right now,” Johnson said. “I think he’s going to be a really, really good player for us.”