By Chris Emma–
(CBS) From Bulls games to Jason Aldean concerts, quarterback Mike Glennon has done his part to grow relationships with his new Bears receivers.
Glennon arrived in Lake Forest a day after Alshon Jeffery landed in Philadelphia, leaving a major void on the Bears’ depth chart. The bonding process has been enjoyable for Glennon, who has “taken the bull by the horns” as a leader, as coach John Fox explained.
“It’s ongoing for sure,” Glennon said. “I think around the league you can be with a guy for many years and you’re still continuing to develop that chemistry. I feel like we’ve done a great job so far, but it will only continue to grow as we go through these OTAs practices, into camp and into the season.”
At some point before the season begins, Glennon will hope to have identified a go-to target in his Bears offense. But who that man will be remains a major mystery, especially after two days of OTAs at Halas Hall.
On Tuesday, Glennon spoke highly of the plays third-year receiver Kevin White made Monday. The team’s 2015 first-round pick, White had impressed Glennon and teammates with his ability to track down the ball. But White was on the sidelines for Tuesday’s practice.
Bears coach John Fox was mum about White’s status for OTAs, doing the veteran of four NFL games no favors after he missed 28 missed games and had two surgeries in his first two seasons.
Meanwhile, Glennon was effusive in his praise of White.
“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Kevin on the field and off the field,” Glennon said. “He’s a great guy. He works his butt off. And he made some really good plays yesterday that got me excited and the rest of the team. He’s really eager to learn. I know he’s eager to get back out on that field.
“He’s a big body. He’s fast. He’s got good catch radius. It’s just got to all come together, and I think it will once he plays. He hasn’t had a big opportunity to play. Once he gets out there, I think he’s gonna do a lot of good things.”
Ideally, the Bears will see White become the player they had hoped when drafting him with the seventh pick two springs ago. But White remains a mystery after two surgeries to the same left leg. He was an unknown even before the injuries.
Camereon Meredith entered in the same rookie class as White and filled his shoes last season. He posted 66 receptions for 888 yards and four touchdowns as the Bears’ top receiver.
The Bears can hope for more of the same for Meredith, who is the front-runner to be the No. 1 target in 2017.
“He’s really impressed me,” Glennon said. “I think he’s going to have a big year. He’s looked really sharp to me. You can tell, translated from quarterback to receiver, it seems like his path is only heading upwards and I think we’re really excited about having Cameron.
“He’s just smooth. When he runs his routes, he’s really clean and crisp. Smooth is probably the best word to describe him.”
White faces immense pressure in his third NFL season. He must go out and prove worthy of that No. 7 pick of two years ago. Meredith is out to show he wasn’t a one-year wonder with the Bears.
Then there’s an interesting group of veterans brought in this offseason. After losing Jeffery, the Bears signed Markus Wheaton and Kendall Wright, two players with potential upside but limited production in 2016. While working alongside Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh, Wheaton posted 16 catches for more than 20 yards and seven for more than 40. Wright set a Titans record with 94 receptions in 2013. Can they produce in Chicago?
The Bears also brought in veteran Reuben Randle and recently signed Titus Davis after a tryout. They join the likes of Daniel Braverman, Josh Bellamy and Deonte Thompson on the depth chart.
Glennon has taken ownership of this Bears team, even with Mitchell Trubisky entering the fold as the quarterback of the future. Given the opportunity to start in 2017 — “It’s my year,” he said over and over Tuesday — Glennon has been ready to work ever since his arrival.
Now comes the task of building chemistry with his receivers, a group with great unknown.