Bears

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Bears

Obvious offensive high points in the Bears win over Detroit were the 408 yards generated (the most since game eight last season), the performance of quarterback Brian Hoyer and ball control of more than 33 minutes that fit with the template for wins by the John Fox Bears (who were 5-1 in 2015 regulation games with 33 minutes in time of possession).

But within the collectives were a handful of franchise-grade positives worth their own spotlights because of the long-range implications for the organization:

Kevin White – “No. 1 wideout?”

Maybe because he hasn’t scored his first NFL TD, White, who left the Detroit game with an undisclosed ankle injury, is still under the popular radar. But while no one was really paying close attention, the de facto rookie by virtue of his 2015 season lost to injury has become the Bears’ leading receiver, with 19 catches, followed by Eddie Royal and Zach Miller with 18 each and Alshon Jeffery with 17 grabs.

More notably perhaps, no Bear has been targeted more than the 36 passes Hoyer and Jay Cutler have directed toward White – an indicator of both growing confidence in White and his getting open for them. Jeffery is a distant second with 25.

But more than the number was White’s obvious fury in the win over Detroit where he was targeted nine times by Hoyer, following 14 target from Hoyer in the Dallas game. His yardage (187) is unspectacular but he has clearly established a comfort level with Hoyer while at the same time punctuating his catches with push-back against defenders trying to get physical with him. And White’s fire appeared to be matched by teammates’.

 

“I thought it was by far his best game,” Fox said. “I think he was real aggressive. I think he caught some contested balls. I think after the catch I felt he was aggressive to get extra yards after the catch. I thought it was his best performance...

“I think when you’re not thinking and you kind of know what you’re doing, you just cut loose and play, which is ideally what you want guys to do. I think it comes with that experience.”

Jordan Howard – “featured” back?

The passed-over rookie fifth-round running back not only piled up his 111 rushing yards and caught three passes for 21 more, but also did it with consistent yards after contact and likely played his way past Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey on the depth chart. His 23 carries were more than the combined rushes by the Bears in the first three games and the most by a Bears back since Matt Forte’s 24 last Oct. 18, also against Detroit. Maybe that running-back-by-committee idea stays on hold.

“I definitely feel like I got a rhythm deeper in the game because at first I feel like I started kind of slow,” Howard said. “But the more carries I got, the more confidence I got and we were getting great push with the offensive line.

Cody Whitehair – settling in

The rookie center was scarce in the locker room last week, probably because he was sitting all by himself in the dark of the offensive line meeting room studying and making notes. In part because of the off-field work ethic, Whitehair has gone from an short-notice transplant from guard, one week before the season opener, to a young player already a favorite for all-rookie honors.

Whitehair was the central figure Sunday in keeping an aggressive Detroit front away from Hoyer (who blamed himself for the Lions’ two sacks of him) and getting to the second level for blocks to spring Howard.

“I feel like [the offensive line] did a great job of holding their blocks and sealing off the running lanes for me and to be patient and things are going to come,” Howard said.