Bears

Bears wide receiver Kevin White leaves no doubt: 'It’s got to happen now'

Bears wide receiver Kevin White leaves no doubt: 'It’s got to happen now'

Four games over the span of two years. That has been the NFL “career” of Kevin White, chosen seventh overall by the Bears in the 2015 draft. That’s little more than what the Bears got from Juaquin Iglesias, the same as they realized from Jarron Gilbert and less than Evan Rodriguez gave them in those players’ single, eminently forgettable year as Bears.

White did manage to move out to lead the Bears in pass receptions last year before the second of his season-ending leg injuries occurred. Maybe it was a tease, maybe (the Bears hope) a foreshadowing. Either way, White is unequivocal about the significance of 2017 as he and the Bears work through their OTA’s and minicamp leading into the break before training camp:

“It's got to happen now,” White said on Tuesday, a day that saw him participate fully in practice. “I've got to turn it up. You know even in year one, year two, I always want to turn it up and show what I can do.

“So to me, year three, it's time.”

“Time.” That’s the thing with White now.

He is returning under a closely monitored program, which has meant not taking part in every offseason practice. Yet that comes with its own peril, that of not fast-tracking a talented wide receiver who needs playing time to stretch and hone his abilities.

Now White, with franchise-grade natural speed, has the added task of re-learning elements of the act of running itself.

“You could say that I've just got to train the body again,” White said. “Fixing things, correcting things and just getting back to it. Overall I'm not worried about it, everything takes time but I feel pretty good.”

The Bears were cautious with White and his stress fracture of the 2015 offseason. A surgery in June would have allowed him to be back playing by midseason, but the early decision was to be conservative, turning to surgery only when the injury failed to heal sufficiently on its own.

Now a third offseason has as one of its central questions the development of a player projected to be one of the foundation pillars of the team by this time.

If there is a positive, it is that White considers himself a better receiver now than when he came to the Bears out of West Virginia.

“I think that’s common sense,” White said. “The knowledge I have, coaches I have around me.”

The time White has around those coaches remains the key.

Will Joel Iyiegbuniwe be a surprise starter for the Bears in 2020?

Will Joel Iyiegbuniwe be a surprise starter for the Bears in 2020?

July and August are fun months for football fans. It's the time of year when we predict season records and evaluate which teams have the best starting lineups. But all of those predicted wins and the depth chart breakdowns rarely come to fruition because of one harsh reality in the NFL: injuries.

The teams that are the best prepared to deal with injuries, those with good depth, are the ones that often stay in the playoff mix the longest. For the Bears, their depth at inside linebacker was a critical factor in their ability to stay afloat in 2019. Nick Kwiatkoski's impressive play off the bench (for both Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan) resulted in a big payday from the Raiders in free agency. But now that he's gone, does Chicago have anyone to replace him?

The answer could lie in Joel Iyiegbuniwe, the former 2018 fourth-round pick. It'd be a huge leap of faith by the Bears, considering Iyiegbuniwe has played just 27 snaps on defense over the last two seasons (including a whopping three in 2019, per Pro Football Focus). We simply don't know who he is as a pro despite his strong college tape as a rangy linebacker who packs a punch. 

Consider this fact: The Bears haven't added an inside linebacker in free agency or the 2020 NFL draft. It's just Iyiegbuniwe and Josh Woods. Maybe Barkevious Mingo? His fit is on the edge, but he could probably log a few snaps inside at this point in his career too.

The Bears' depth will be tested this season, especially with the unpredictability of COVID-19. Backups will be more important than they probably ever have been, which is why a player like Iyiegbuniwe has to rise to the occasion and give the Bears another talented and ascending option at linebacker.

Cole Kmet looks like a beast in Bears' home uniform

Cole Kmet looks like a beast in Bears' home uniform

Big shoutout to the Chicago Bears social media team for sharing how they so perfectly placed second-round pick Cole Kmet in the team's home kit. 

First, take a look at Kmet's fresh No. 85. The comparisons to Rob Gronkowski suddenly got real:

How'd the Bears make such a clean jersey swap? They shared their process on Twitter. Check it out:

Kmet is expected to play a significant role for the Bears' offense in 2020, even if he begins his rookie year behind Jimmy Graham on the team's tight end pecking order. Graham's status as an experienced veteran who's had success as a receiver will make him the first choice among tight ends in (insert quarterback here) progressions, but Kmet's upside should result in early-season opportunities, especially in the red zone.

Graham's best days are behind him, while Kmet is just getting started. If he brings more juice to the offense (and it becomes obvious from the get-go), the Bears will waste little time promoting him.

It's easy to envision that No. 85 scoring a bunch of touchdowns at Soldier Field in the not-too-distant future.