By Chris Emma—
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) – There are circumstances shared between Bears receivers Kevin White and Cam Meredith that have brought them together.
White was the No. 7 overall pick in 2015, while Meredith was an undrafted free agent. White carried the big expectations into Chicago, while Meredith assumed his role after White missed most of 2016 with his second leg surgery in as many seasons.
This season, the two were supposed to line up together, until Meredith suffered a torn ACL in in a preseason game Sunday. White knows well the struggles that such a devastating injury can bring.
“Mentally it’s very frustrating,” White said Tuesday at Halas Hall. “You don’t really want to be around football. Everybody’s probably calling him, blowing them up. I just know he’s a little frustrated, don’t want to talk too much. A lot of people seem like they care and stuff when a guy goes down, but for him it’s just frustrating. Probably a little down, of course. Had a big year coming up and worked hard. It’s just unfortunate.”
With the loss of Meredith, the Bears will need even more from White, who will be counted on as a key target in their offense.
White has played in just four games during his first two seasons, recording 19 catches for 187 yards. He still hasn’t reached the end zone yet.
“He’s a great player, and I think in talking to him he understands how good he can be,” receiver Victor Cruz said of White. “It’s just a matter of putting that work in out here on the practice field to reap those benefits. Obviously, he’s been up and down with injuries, so this is the year where he has to take over and be the guy that they drafted him to be. I think he’s ready for that, and I think he’s conscious of the pressure that’s on him and he’s relishing it.”
The Bears face decisions ahead at receiver, with Saturday’s roster cut-down looming. The roster must go from its 90-man limit down to 53 as roles are defined. Cruz is among those whose place with this team is uncertain.
Meredith is now out of the picture for this season, meaning the Bears must find solutions at receiver. That starts with White.
“I feel like I’ve got to step it up a little more,” he said. “Everybody’s got to take their game to another level.”