Chicago Bears' 2010 Training Camp Preview: Wide Receivers

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Chicago Bears' 2010 Training Camp Preview: Wide Receivers
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A much bally-hooed about group, the Bears receivers don't have one consensus media opinion.

While some analysts say the Bears receivers are the weakest group on the team, other feel they have a chance to be great.

Let's take a look at the 11 wide receivers the Bears currently have on their roster and see what each has to offer.

 

Devin Aromashodu

After clamoring for the Auburn product to see playing time all season, fans finally got a taste of what the future might hold at wide receiver for the Bears.

The 6'2" pass-catcher flourished in the final four games of the year, catching 22 passes for 282 yards and four touchdowns against the Packers, Ravens, Vikings and Lions

Now, fans have big expectations for the player known as DA. There's arguably no other receiver on the roster who has as much of a chemistry with Jay Cutler.

The two are consistently on the same page and DA's frame and reliable hands seem to make him a fit as the Bears No. 1 receiver. However, Mike Martz seems to be leaning towards two other receivers at the moment, with Aromashodu working out of the third receiver spot. 

 

Freddie Barnes

Signed as an undrafted free agent, the Chicago native set records of all kinds in his time at Bowling Green.

With 22 catches and 278 yards against Kent State, he put out arguably the best game a college receiver has ever put out and caught 155 passes last year, another NCAA record. However, his burst off the line is less then impressive and at only 6'0" and 215 lbs, he's not big enough to stand out physically to help earn a roster spot.

While he looks to potentially sneak onto the practice squad, Barnes doesn't look like a lock to make the roster. However, with an impressive training camp, Barnes could find himself kept on the roster as a 6th receiver and special teams contributor.

 

Earl Bennett

When media outlets talk about the Bears receivers, they constantly seem to overlook Bennett. It's not hard; the possession receiver is neither big nor flashy, fast nor strong.

However, with 54 receptions for 717 yards, he ranked second among Bears receivers in both categories, and third overall on the team in receiving yards. He also had a fantastic punt return for a touchdown, the only the Bears got all season, against the Ravens. 

After playing with Jay Cutler at Vanderbilt and setting SEC career records (at Vanderbilt!!!), he proved a reliable outlet for Cutler. While Bennett will likely be stuck at the fourth receiver role behind Knox, Hester and Aromashodu, Bennett will also see time spelling the top three and filling in for injuries.

In that case, look for Bennett to put up similar stats to what he did last year; not a 1,000 yard pass-catcher but a great fourth receiver. 

 

Rashied Davis

A former AFL superstar, Davis has stuck around the Bears for five years now.

A versatile former cornerback, Davis fell out of favor with the receiving corps after dropping countless passes in 2008, he looked like his old self last year; making clutch passes every once in awhile as the fifth receiver. 

Davis has supposedly looked very impressive in off-season practices and is a proven special teams contributor. While he won't see too much playing time, Davis looks to stick around on the roster due to all the different talents he can bring to the table. 

 

Vic Hall

An intriguing play-maker, Hall played countless positions at Virginia. After starting games at cornerback and quarterback, seeing time on special teams and at receiver, the undrafted free agent has blinding speed and is being worked as a slot receiver for the Bears.

Hall is the definition of a project. He hasn't played much of receiver and will likely be a training camp casualty. However, in a few years Hall could find himself on the roster, filling the role Rashied Davis fills. As a emergency cornerback, fifth receiver and special teams player with exciting speed, Hall looks to be almost a Rashied Davis clone, down to the 5'9" height. 

 

Juaquin Iglesias

After having a standout career at Oklahoma, the Bears took Iglesias to potentially add an impressive young receiver to their corps in 2009. Unfortunately, Iglesias got stuck behind a promising young quartet of receivers. 

However, as a former third round pick in just his second season Iglesias is a lock to make the roster. The Bears want to give the kid playing time, and with decent size, speed and hands, he could see occasional playing time.

The fact that he has failed to surpass Davis, Aromashodu, Knox, Hester and Bennett doesn't seem to help his bid for playtime. 

 

Johnny Knox

No one expected much from the fifthth round pick the Bears received from the Broncos as a part of the Jay Cutler trade. But the 6'0", 180 pound rookie made waves, coming from Abilene Christian to becoming a full-fledged NFL receiver.

His blinding speed helped him garner 11.7 yards per catch, and 45 catches for 527 yards. His five touchdowns were also the most of any Bears wide receiver and second on the team. 

Martz has tabbed Knox as the starter opposite Devin Hester, and the two of them will look to create by far the fastest starting pair in the league. Because of Jay Cutler's enormous arm, also the strongest in the league, the Bears look to have plenty of big plays this upcoming year.

 

Greg Matthews

While Matthews often put out impressive single game lines at Michigan, he never put out a solid full season. He typically caught about 30 passes for 400 yards in every season and despite his 6'3" size, he never stood out as a red-zone target. 

However, Matthews might find himself a spot on the practice squad. Along with former Michigan starter Mike Hart, the undrafted free agent has been cited as being one of the most impressive rookies in off-season practices. While he won't make the roster, Matthews could provide an interesting name to keep in mind come next year.

 

Eric Peterman

While it's awfully trendy to compare white receivers to each other, Peterman can't help but remind me of former Bears legend Tom Waddle. Signing as an undrafted free agent with the Bears out of a decent football school (Boston College for Waddle, Northwestern for Peterman), neither was particularly fast and the 6'1" height both shared never helped them stand out.

After getting cut numerous times in training camp, Waddle eventually earned a starting role and became one of the Bears best receivers of the past 20 years, becoming a fan favorite due to his tough play and reliable and clutch catches. 

Could Peterman be the next Waddle? I wouldn't be surprised if he managed to make the roster in a year or two. The Bears did feel confident enough in him to keep him on their practice squad all season. But with the way the Bears receivers are stacked right now, with Bennett, Knox, Aromashodu and Hester clearly above him and Davis having an upper hand, it doesn't look good.

However, with Rashied Davis likely gone after next season due to contract woes, Peterman will look to have a spot on the roster as a sixth receiver in 2011. 

 

Antonio Robinson

Not much is known about Antonio Robinson. After playing in the Southland Conference at Nicholls State, he put up decent numbers; 993 yards in his two year career at a lacking football school. However, just looking at his triangle numbers are impressive; at 6'3" and 195 lbs, he has impressive size, but nothing more.

He likely won't be a Chicago Bear for too much longer. 

 

Devin Hester

There's no player that consistently gets screwed by the media like Devin Hester does.

While many like to make the claim that "the Hester experiment at wide receiver has failed" and "Hester is nothing but a decoy now", through 12 weeks last season before he got injured Hester was on pace to be the Bears first 1,000 yards receiver since Marty Booker in 2002. 

While Hester has lost his mojo on kickoff and punt returns, the Bears have found more then worthy replacements at those spots. Hester is a vital piece to the Bears offense this season; under Mike Martz, his speed and craftiness will allow him to fit perfectly into the starting role.

Martz says Hester will be the number one receiver this upcoming season for the Bears, and considering how quickly the transition for the former cornerback has been so far, Hester could have a true breakout season in 2010. 

Projected Rankings:

1. Devin Hester

2. Johnny Knox

3. Devin Aromashodu

4. Earl Bennett

5. Juaquin Iglesias

6. Rashied Davis

7. Eric Peterman

8. Freddie Barnes

9. Vic Hall

10. Greg Matthews

11. Antonio Robinson

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