You’d be hard-pressed to find a player more universally popular within the Bears’ locker room than Josh Bellamy.
The boisterous backup receiver is well-liked within the offense. He’s a special teams ace appreciated by members of that unit. Defensive players take note of his energy — and non-stop talking — at practice. Coaches respect his work ethic, football I.Q. and willingness to do anything and everything for a division champion team.
“Nobody outworks Josh Bellamy,” quarterback Mitch Trubisky said.
“Josh Bellamy is probably one of the hardest-working guys I’ve seen in my career,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said.
“He’s a person you want to be around,” running back Benny Cunningham said.
“As he says, he’s got that drip. He just gets us hype,” running back Tarik Cohen said.
"He’s a teammate and has been an invaluable piece of this deal," offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said.
Or, perhaps best put by linebacker Danny Trevathan: “He’s the perfect fit for this culture that we have here now.”
The Bears are a good fit for Bellamy, and Bellamy is a good fit for the Bears. That hasn’t always been the case: This is a guy who dropped nine passes in 2016 and 2017, when a depleted depth chart pushed him to receiving significant playing time on a pair of bad offenses. That he was a strong special teams contributor didn’t matter to fans, who saw a receiver make mistakes that seemed fitting for teams that lost a combined 26 games those two seasons.
But the Bears are a good team again, winners of the NFC North and going to the playoffs for the first time in eight years. Bellamy isn’t the most significant player on this team, nor is he a starter. But he’s a well-liked and well-respected player around Halas Hall, the kind of “glue guy,” as Helfrich said, who not only plays an important role, but embraces it.
“You don't have to tell him to go harder, you don't have to tell him to do his job, you don't have to tell him to study his plays,” Trubisky said. “He's always out there doing the right thing, the right time. And just like the plays in the game, when you least expect it he makes a big play for this offense.
“So he's just a guy you can continue to rely on, an incredible teammate. Very smart player and just an awesome guy to be around. He's absolutely hilarious. I'm sure you guys have talked to him. We're lucky to have Josh on this team. I think guys feed off his energy every single day just being out there and competing with him. You always want to get better and you want to up your game as well.”
Bellamy has been targeted just 20 times this year, catching 12 of those for 109 yards with a touchdown (he’s also been credited with only one drop, per Pro Football Focus). But he’s played 243 snaps while playing all three of the Bears’ receiver positions (X, Z, Zebra). No offensive player has played more snaps on special teams than him, too.
“The more you can do, the more you can play, the longer you can stay,” Bellamy said. “I’ve just thrived on that, just playing everything, trying to learn everything.
“… I know my role. On this team, I feel like everybody knows their role. And that’s what everybody grasps — it’s helping us. Like hey, everybody isn’t going to get 60 plays in a game. Some people aren’t going to get eight plays or more than that. Some people go down and some people step up. Right now, it’s just — hey, whatever role you get put into, you gotta be the best at it. I feel like that’s what we’re doing right now.”
That kind of energy is especially welcomed on kick/punt coverage units, where special teams coordinator Chris Tabor said he has the right amount of crazy (“in a good way,” he added). That kind of attitude is infectious on those units.
“He’s 100 miles an hour all the time,” tight end Daniel Brown, another special teams contributor, said. “It’s impressive. The guy never gets tired. You just know on every play he’s going to give his best effort and nothing less.
“… It kind of pushes all of us. You see a guy giving his best effort, the coaches are going to notice that and you don’t want to be the guy who’s not giving his best effort because it’s going to stand out.”
Bellamy has been the recipient of more playing time on offense than Kevin White — who’s only been active for one game in the second half of the season, playing five snaps on Thanksgiving against the Detroit Lions — in part because of his special teams ability, and in part because of the positional versatility in and knowledge he has of Nagy's offense.
“Josh really knows this offense,” Nagy said. “He understands it—all three positions. And then to come in and make that big catch, that was a contested catch. That thing was covered, and he made that catch. That was a huge play in the game.”
That catch was a tough 18-yarder last weekend against the Green Bay Packers that set up a touchdown just before halftime. The Bears don’t need Bellamy to make a bunch of plays, as they did the last two years. But one or two a game on offense, plus a few on special teams — he downed a pair of punts inside the five-yard line against Green Bay — is exactly the kind of production the Bears need out of Bellamy.
With that limited but meaningful production runs an undercurrent of energy and hard work. And that’s why Bellamy is such a popular, and important, figure around Halas Hall.
“We want a lot of Josh Bellamy’s, those kind of selfless guys who just sort of domino effect to our younger guys," quarterback Chase Daniel said. "And I think that’s a big reason why we’re sitting where were at today.”