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Kevin White faces stiff rookie expectations from Bears, NFL

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Kevin White faces stiff rookie expectations from Bears, NFL

The NFL learning curve for wide receivers took on a great deal of relevance for the Bears and Kevin White as the rookie wideout went through his first NFL practice.

When Alshon Jeffery was selected in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft he was coming in as a reserve receiver initially. Devin Hester and Brandon Marshall were starters, and it took some weeks into the season for Jeffery to break into the starting lineup.

White comes to the Bears as the No. 7 pick of the first round, and virtually a given to be starting opposite Jeffery.

“I know there’s a lot expected of me,” White said on Friday at rookie minicamp.

[MORE BEARS: Bears agree to terms with draft picks Kevin White, Eddie Goldman]

The Bears’ franchise record for a rookie wide receiver is 45 catches, by Harlon Hill in 1954. That was enough to get Hill to the Pro Bowl as a rookie. The Bears are indeed expecting more, at least numerically speaking.

But those expectations also demand accelerated learning at a position that once rarely produced epic rookie seasons but now has seen rookie wideouts hit the ground running, really, really fast.

“I think in the past we have what we call ‘fail rates,’” said Bears head coach John Fox. “Everybody follows the quarterback just because that’s a visible position. Over time, years ago we did this study that the receiver position was right up there with the quarterback.

“I don’t know if people are doing a better job of evaluating guys and how they fit their systems, but I think that’s changed a little bit over the last couple of years.”

Last year the New York Giants got 91 receptions from rookie Odell Beckham Jr. Jarvis Landry caught 84 for the Miami Dolphins. Seven receivers totaled more than 50 receptions.

[MORE BEARS: For Kevin White, move to Bears, Chicago just another transition]

Beckham’s 91 tied Eddie Royal for second all-time on the NFL rookie reception list.

The proliferation of spread offenses has made drafting college quarterbacks and offensive linemen sometimes more problematic. But the spread game is producing receivers with dramatically increased impact in an NFL that has tilted toward the pass as well.

“Much like our game, the passing game has become, I don’t know, in vogue in college football as well,” Fox said. “If you watched our practice today, there was some issues with taking the snap from under center. That’s one thing I know that they’re not doing as much in college now. As far as the passing game, just like our game, there are more passes in college football, as well.”

White may be coming in more NFL-ready than receivers of a decade or two ago. But he has other orientation issues.

He played almost exclusively the right side at West Virginia. He won’t be doing that in Chicago under offensive coordinator Adam Gase.

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“Moving him around a little bit is going to be different for him,” Gase said, “but I don't think intelligence-wise we have any concerns with him. We brought him in for his interview and he was outstanding, picked up what we taught him very quickly and was able to bring it back to us. Coach [Mike] Groh had a really good feel for him, and I think he's going to fit in well with us.

"We really like what he brought to the table, and we look for specific routes, and when we see one or two things, we know they can do the entire tree, so his speed, his body control, the way that he bursts off the ball, all those things we really liked.”

White said he felt like a college freshman all over again. Coaches only presented a very small selection of plays but White found out very quickly that he wasn’t in Kansas (or West Virginia) anymore, Toto.

“Did a lot of movement, left side and in the slot on the right side, slot in the left,” White said. “So a lot different than college. Just trying to get adjusted. First day. So it wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be. But I’m learning the system and trying to get better each and every day.”

That would qualify as Expectation No. 1 from the Bears.

No, it actually doesn't make sense for the Bears to trade for Patrick Peterson

No, it actually doesn't make sense for the Bears to trade for Patrick Peterson

Things around the NFL got real  interesting this morning: 

Between Paterson's strong language and the fact that the Cardinals are one of the three-worst teams in the NFL this season, it seems like a pretty safe bet that this trade happens. 

As is tradition, each NFL team's fanbase started tweetin' about it: 

The guess here is that this trade caught Bears fans at exactly the wrong time. Between Brock Osweiler's 380 YDS, 3 TD game and Tom Brady's 277 YDS, 3 TD performance, people aren't exactly clamoring to buy stock in the Bears' passing defense right now. 

As of Week 6, however, the Bears pass defense ranked 1st in DVOA. No one was better. Granted, that's not where they'll be when DVOA is updated to reflect the last two games, but bailing on the Bears' pass D after two games (although a case could be made that their pass D wasn't THAT bad against New England) is foolish. There's also the fact that the Bears' secondary is already super-talented, highlighed by Bryce Callahan and Eddie Jackson both making it onto Pro Football Focus' first quarter All-Pro team. Granted, Kyle Fuller's had a slow start and Prince Amukamara hasn't been able to stay on the field, but the depth and talent of the Bears' secondary won't be their downfall. 

Positional need aside, the money just doesn't make sense for Chicago. First and foremost, the Bears just probably don't have what they'd need to bring in Peterson. According to Sportrac, the Bears have roughly $5.4 million in cap space this season - good for 23rd in the NFL (not that rank really matters, but just to give you an idea). 

That's not technically a deal breaker when it comes to Paterson, whose $11 million base salary is actually around $5.2 million once you prorate it for the first eight weeks of the year. So, if the Bears *wanted* to make a move for Peterson, the space is there. 

With that said, Peterson would come at a price that the Bears most likely don't have the luxury of affording. As of today, the market for trading top-tier secondary players has probably been set by this winter's Marcus Peters deal. In that trade, the Chiefs sent Peters and a sixth-round pick for one 4th-round pick this year and a 2nd round pick the following. As it stands, the Bears don't currently have anything better than a 4th-round pick until 2021. They definitely don't have the draft capital to match the Peters deal -- which was actually considered a light return at the time. 

And sure, the Bears could come at the Cardinals with a package built around current players, but why would that interest Arizona? Would a rebuilding team be THAT interested in Leonard Floyd, or some sort of Kevin White-Proven Vet combo? There's no incentive for the Cardinals to listen to any offer that doesn't include high round draft capital, and the Bears can't offer that. Paterson on the Bears would be an embarrassment of riches, but not one that the Bears can realistically swing. 

Let's listen to the Bears-Patriots' wild finish in other languages, because it's way better that way

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@thecheckdown

Let's listen to the Bears-Patriots' wild finish in other languages, because it's way better that way

Remember Sunday's Bears-Patriots finish? The one where the Bears (and Kevin White -- shouts to Kevin White!) were one-yard away from tying the game on a hail mary? 

Here was the call that most viewers heard, which was Extremely Meh: 

Now here's the call that viewers in Germany and Portugal heard, which is SO MUCH BETTER: 

Turns out that being excited for an exciting play makes for good television, who woulda thought.