Hub Arkush: Wide receiver full of question marks for the Chicago Bears in training camp
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — For all of the focus on Mike Glennon, Mitchell Trubisky and Mark Sanchez and all the chatter about who should be under center, quarterback is nowhere near the most controversial or important position to the Bears offense this season.
In fact it is completely settled, whether fans like it or not.
Glennon is the starter and the only way Trubisky gets on the field this year is if Sanchez gets cut and Glennon gets hurt, or if Glennon and/or Sanchez take them to a 3-9 start or something like that and club says let’s throw the rookie to the wolves early and let him take his lumps.
Wide receiver on the other hand is a total unknown.
Is Kevin White an NFL No. 1 wideout or a top-10 bust?
Does Cam Meredith still have a long climb to get to his ceiling or will he struggle with top DBs now watching him more closely?
Can White, Markus Wheaton and Victor Cruz stay healthy?
Do Cruz, Kendall Wright and Rueben Randle still have gas left in the tank or are they running on fumes?
Is there more than meets the eye to Josh Bellamy, Deonte Thompson or Daniel Braverman?
Is the next Cam Meredith, an undrafted rookie free agent hiding somewhere in plain sight in Bourbonnais?
For the group to become a success, White has to stay healthy and become a star. In his third season, there is no wiggle room left in evaluating how well the Bears used that seventh overall pick.
In spite of all his injury setbacks, White is confident in himself and the group.
“I think we got a lot of guys that can do a lot of things. Guys like Victor Cruz, Kendall, Wheaton, along with myself, Cam, DT, Josh Bellamy, Brave. We all can do whatever the coaches put us in position to do,” he said. “I do have a lot of confidence for us.”
Meredith is the only pass catcher on the team with a clearly defined spot on the depth chart as he appears locked in on the outside, and he’s definitely earned White’s confidence.
“Cam plays a lot faster. He understands the game better. He has confidence. He’s a good receiver, does a lot of things well.”
White makes him sound like a No. 2.
Of the veteran group, Wheaton will get the most opportunities early thanks to the dollars spent on him in free agency.
When he arrived, I asked him where he saw himself on the depth chart.
“I see myself as a deep threat that can make plays down the field,” he said. “You can label it how you want to label it, but I’m here to make plays. I want to score touchdowns. I want to win games.”
Still, following the money, Cruz is most likely to round out the top four pass catchers and while he and Wheaton will likely compete for time in the slot, he believes he’s expected to do more than just make plays.
“I think it comes natural. If you have to sit a guy down and tell him to be a leader, it kind of adds a different energy to it,” he said. “I think it just kind of comes with the territory, being my eighth year and being through the ups and downs that I’ve been through it just kind of falls in my lap.”
White and Wheaton both possess the special speed and athleticism NFL teams crave at wide receiver.
In Cruz’s first three seasons, 2011-2013, he caught 239 passes for 3,626 yards and 23 touchdowns, including a 1,536-yard rookie campaign, and Wright had 94 catches for 1,079 yards in his second year in Tennessee playing for Dowell Loggains.
Should the Bears get anything from Wright, Randle, Bellamy, Thompson or Braverman, that would just be icing on the cake.
If the next Meredith is here, his name is Tanner Gentry out of Wyoming.
There is a lot that can go wrong, but should White and his fellow pass catchers finally play with just some decent luck health-wise, there is a lot that could go right too.
If it does, the Bears season could take on a whole different spin.