LAKE FOREST – Just a glance at the list of the receiver the Bears have in 2019 compared to two seasons ago shows just how much the team has grown offensively.
The talent level simply wasn’t there to give then-rookie Mitchell Trubisky a fighting chance in his rookie season of 2017, with his best targets being tight ends and running backs. That change with productive free agency periods and the draft the last two seasons, and now Matt Nagy has a bit of an issue on his hands.
Which receiver will he keep and which ones will he have to part ways with when final cuts arrive?
Already the team released undrafted free agent Emanuel Hall because of the sheer volume of receivers on the roster. Other players with talent in that receiver room could meet the same fate, even if their talent belongs on an NFL club.
Riley Ridley falls a bit into that category, though as a fourth-round pick, it’s not likely he’ll be sent away by the team so soon. Yet if the former Georgia receiver wants to see some playing time, he’ll have to show something over the next couple of weeks of training camp and preseason games.
Coming off a hamstring injury that limited him during Bourbonnais workouts, Ridley was active but didn’t play in the game against the Panthers last Thursday. Maybe this weeks’ game against the Giants on Friday will give him that chance to show his stuff for the first time.
“I’m really anxious but you’ve got to go through the week,” said Riley of possibly playing this week at Met Life Stadium. “You’ve got to put good film up and that’s what I’m intending to do.”
In the meantime, the receiver is trying to learn from those around him, from the veteran receivers to quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
“Each different guy’s got something different that they can inform me with. I try to keep it mutual. I try to learn from everybody, soak it in, and be a student of the game,” said Ridley. “Mitch will be the guy out there throwing it, so if you can get good reps with Mitch in, that’s always a good step in the right direction.”
So far he’s made that with Trubisky as he comes off his last of three seasons at Georgia, finishing his career with the Bulldogs with 69 catches, 1,015 receiving yards, and 13 touchdowns, with nine of those scores coming in his senior season.
“I love throwing to Riley,” said Trubisky of Ridley. “He’s very savvy, like ‘Juice’ (receiver Javon Wims) he can run the whole route tree. We’re putting him in a lot of different spots, and in his first year in the offense, he picked it up really quickly. You could tell he studies a lot.”
While also paying attention to those around him so he can make an impact in his rookie season of 2019.