By Chris Emma—
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) – Bears rookie Adam Shaheen certainly looks the part of an NFL tight end. He stands at 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds, a monstrosity on the field and a theoretical mismatch in coverage.
The Bears would love nothing more than to unleash Shaheen on opposing defenses, revealing the potential they believe he holds. But he’s still not ready for that just yet. Thirteen weeks into his rookie season after being drafted in the second round last April, Shaheen is still working on the great jump from Division-II football to the NFL.
Shaheen has played 26 snaps in the last two games. He wasn’t targeted once in a 15-14 loss to the 49ers on Sunday.
“It’s really just a young player coming from a small school,” Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “Adam is a smart kid and at some point in this league he’s going to be a really solid football player. But it’s just the point of handling all the volume and all the things that come with tight ends.”
“He’s still working on some things in the run game and even just some technique stuff in the pass game. But where he helps you at is he’s big and a contested-catch guy. So that’s where he helps. It’s really just being able to hold the whole volume of what (tight ends) do as well.”
The 24-year-old Shaheen was a standout at Ashland University, earning the nickname “Baby Gronk” while dominating the competition. In two seasons starting in college, he posted 127 receptions, 1,670 yards and 26 touchdowns, shattering school and conference records along the way.
Chicago believed it had drafted something special for its offense, selecting Shaheen higher than most projections in the second round. He has just eight receptions for 83 yards this season. At some point, the next step for Shaheen will be a constant role in NFL games, though Loggains hasn’t budged just yet.
“We’re trying to expand his package and how much he can hold, really how much he can take on that way,” Loggains said. “We’re experimenting with stuff and different packages and just how much volume he can hold up to.”
Shaheen believes his greatest strides have been with the mental aspects of his position. He’s seeing the field better and moving well with the enhanced speed of the NFL game. Rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is in agreement, touting Shaheen’s growth as a player in every facet of the game.
There’s constant work between Trubisky and Shaheen with the hopes of forging a connection in time. They throw extra passes before and after practice each day. They plan for more work this offseason to strengthen that rapport.
The Bears drafted Shaheen hoping he can become a dominant target for Trubisky. There’s a lot of work to be done.
“He can be as good as he wants to be,” Trubisky said of Shaheen. “It’s all about hard work and dedication. But the most important thing for me looking at him is that he loves the game, loves the work.
“I see him every day just getting better, focused at practice, doing his job, just trying to figure out what he can do better each day and how he can make the guys around us better. That’s what we’re all trying to do.”