Young Bears Receivers Looking To Break Out

Anthony Miller, Javon Wims, Riley Ridley and Darnell Mooney are looking to prove themselves.
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(670 The Score) When the Bears signed Allen Robinson as their top target two years ago, they did so with the goal of developing receivers around him.

Robinson has been exactly what the Bears had hoped and then some, emerging as one of the NFL's best receivers and earning consideration for a long-term contract extension in Chicago. But the Bears are still waiting for a player to break out alongside Robinson at receiver. Will that happen this season?

Anthony Miller, Javon Wims, Riley Ridley and Darnell Mooney are each looking to show what they can do. The four young receivers realize they're competing against each other for the limited opportunities.

"The coolest thing that is really going on in our room is I think guys really realize that there’s a lot of talent," Bears receivers coach Mike Furrey said in August. "There’s going to be some talent in our room that’s not going to be with us. The guys that recognize that, and I think that they’ve taken that.

"They realize every day that they have to show up and go to work, and they have to push themselves and get better every day."

The third-year receiver Miller is the most likely candidate for a breakout. He entered the 2019 season anticipating such an emergence, but Furrey saw a young player who wasn't yet mature enough to handle a key role.

Miller played in just 19% of the Bears' snaps on offense during the regular-season opener in 2019. He had only four catches in the first four games of the season. Then, it clicked. Miller had 33 receptions over a five-game span last November into December.

Furrey sees a different Miller this season. Bears coach Matt Nagy has been impressed too.

"He might have had the best training camp of a lot of players on this team," Nagy said of Miller on Wednesday. "He had an amazing training camp.

"That kid is a playing at 110% on every single play. Just to have that, that’s a credit to him. He took the challenge and he really had an awesome camp.”

The Bears traded up and back into the second round in 2018 for the right to draft Miller, believing they had added a dynamic complement for Robinson. But given Miller's injury issues and inconsistency in performance, he hasn't earned a firm role just yet.

Wims and Ridley also have the opportunity to earn targets this season. A seventh-round pick of the Bears in 2018, Wims has made major strides in his technique. The 6-foot-3 Wims was previously relying too much on his size and giving away routes, Furrey said.

Furrey wanted Wims to focus on staying lower in his routes and on technique instead of solely counting on talent to prevail.

"When you’re a 6-3, 6-4 guy, it’s natural to play higher than normal," Wims said. "But I wish I would have started this transition back when I was in college. Maybe I wouldn’t have had to wait until Year 3 to try and fix it. Maybe I would have come in a lot more polished as a route runner, versus becoming polished now."

Back in June, Furrey mentioned the second-year receiver Ridley could reveal "the biggest growth that we're going to see of anybody" in that group. A fourth-round pick in 2019, Ridley caught just six passes last season, including three in the regular-season finale. He was a healthy scratch for 12 games.

Ridley spent the offseason training with his brother, Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley, and embraced the development process. Like Wims, Ridley has made a strong impression in camp.

"They came in and took care of business," veteran receiver Ted Ginn Jr. said of Wims and Ridley. "I see them coming in and making plays for us. I really don’t know how it’s going to go, but they both came in and hats off to them. They both got great hands. They both run great routes. (Shoot), I learned a couple of things from them guys being in this offense. They just coming in with their ears open, coming out and showing the coaches what they have."

The rookie Mooney is behind the more established players at receiver but has held his own as well. The Bears could utilize his speed in certain packages of Nagy's offense.

With Robinson's contract future uncertain beyond this season, it's imperative for the Bears to find solutions at receiver. It's time to solidify a position that's been lacking and establish options beyond Robinson.

"From A-Rob all the way down to the rookie," Furrey said, "they’re out there competing."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.