Prince Amukamara returned to Bears practice Thursday after attending to his wife's emergency surgery the day before. For the most part throughout his first Bears camp, he'll line up opposite either Cameron Meredith or Kevin White. The same goes for the other projected starting cornerback, Marcus Cooper, when he's been testing a hamstring he's trying to get back to full strength.
Cooper had his practice time opposite the great Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona last season, while Amukamara had the same in his final two years with the Giants opposite Odell Beckham, Jr. before spending last season in Jacksonville.
I approached both on their impressions so far about Meredith and White, not because they compare, because neither is close yet to those other two star wideouts. It was more to envision how high the bar for the Bears tandem might be, because Fitzgerald and OBJ have certainly set a standard.
Cooper is massive for a corner, 6-foot-2, and signed a three-year deal based on Ryan Pace's belief he has a high ceiling of his own after four interceptions a year ago.
He expressed after Thursday's indoor walkthrough in Bourbonnais that the potential is high for both based on the physical tools Meredith and White possess. But both are still very young in the NFL maturation process. Amukamara agreed.
"Both have great potential. I feel like, so far, they're our number-one and two guys. Don't ask me which is which. Both are different guys," Amukamara said.
"I think Kevin for sure is more of a deep-ball, big-play receiver, and Cam is very elusive for how big he is. He can definitely play in the slot and run great routes. I think they've been getting a great test going up against us at practice, but looking towards that first exhibition, the Broncos have an elite tandem."
Chris Harris, Jr. and Aqib Talib this week were graded as the best cornerbacks in "Madden 18," which may be starting to be more significant that All-Pro or Pro Bowl selections.
So does a guy like Amukamara "help" young receivers? Hey, it's been a running narrative the past couple of days: Bears receivers and their position coach.
"Mmmm, not willingly," Amukamara said with both a slight grin and slightly downward eyebrows. "But if they ask, or if I make a play, I'll say, `Hey, this is what I play here.' Or I'll tell them, like, `This is what Odell does,' and stuff like that, just cuz I know Odell is well-respected around the league and I played with him. Like, `Odell probably would've done this.' Or how he would've run his route."
Of course, these could very well be just two fresh faces playing the good teammate, pumping the kids' tires. It's sometimes a long way between potential and proof. It's certainly there for an odd couple - one a seventh overall draft pick in 2015, the other completely undrafted that same year. White and Meredith are in the process of earning and learning. Let's see them get to September 10th, and find out if they're "1-2" at the starting gate.