WARM RE­CEP­TIONS

With Robin­son out with an an­kle in­jury, Wims and Ri­d­ley make some nice plays on passes thrown by Foles

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - MARK POTASH mpotash@sun­times.com | @MarkPo­tash

Back-to-back com­ple­tions from quar­ter­back Nick Foles ended a crisp two-minute drill in prac­tice Wed­nes­day at Halas Hall that breathed a lit­tle bit of hope that the Bears might get this of­fense thing down. Maybe even by Sept. 13.

Foles thew a deep ball down the left side­line to Ri­ley Ri­d­ley, who got a step on rookie Kin­dle Vil­dor to make a touch­down catch in the end zone. On the two-point con­ver­sion, Foles adroitly bought enough time to step up and find Javon Wims near the back of the end zone.

“We were just out there com­pet­ing,” Ri­d­ley said. “It was like a lit­tle cover-2 shell showed — just get out­side, re­lease and run. The ball was on time. Great throw by Nick, and we made a play.”

With Allen Robin­son sit­ting out prac­tice with an an­kle in­jury, Ri­d­ley and Wims were no­table ben­e­fi­cia­ries of Foles’ ac­cu­racy. Be­hind An­thony Miller, the for­mer Ge­or­gia wide re­ceivers are two key can­di­dates to take big steps in 2020.

The 6-1, 192-pound Ri­d­ley, a fourth-round pick in 2019, spent most of his rookie sea­son on the bench but had three re­cep­tions for 54 yards against the Vik­ings in Week 17 — in­clud­ing a game-sav­ing 32-yard gain on fourth-and-nine in the fourth quar­ter that set up Eddy Pineiro’s win­ning field goal.

Ri­d­ley is hop­ing to par­lay that suc­cess into a big­ger role for 2020, but as Wims knows all too well, it doesn’t al­ways work out. Wims also ended a quiet rookie sea­son with a bang — four re­cep­tions for 32 yards, in­clud­ing two huge third-down re­cep­tions for 16 and nine yards in a key fourth-quar­ter touch­down drive that paved the way for a 24-10 vic­tory. But last sea­son, Wims was a bit player — 18 re­cep­tions for 186 yards and a touch­down.

Ri­d­ley looks ready to avoid that sec­ond-year pit­fall. His bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the of­fense and his role is mak­ing it eas­ier for him to play fast, and that is show­ing in prac­tice.

“It’s a big jump from Year 1 to Year 2,” Ri­d­ley said. “You know what to do. You know what to ex­pect. All you’ve got to do is get to work.”

Though Ri­d­ley doesn’t have Wims’ size, he seems to have a good grasp of the nu­ances of his po­si­tion that help him get open. That’s just one step to­ward suc­cess, but it’s an im­por­tant one.

“[Ri­d­ley] never misses an ex­tra walk-through; he’s al­ways there,” wide re­ceivers coach Mike Furrey said. “He’s try­ing to learn ev­ery sin­gle po­si­tion. So I’m re­ally proud of where he’s at. I’m re­ally pleased with where he’s at right now.”

Furrey said Wims has im­proved “de­fi­cien­cies” that were hin­der­ing his progress. He’s stay­ing low in and out of his routes to avoid giv­ing away the route and be­ing phys­i­cal to beat press cov­er­age in­stead of “be­ing too cute.”

“He’s added that to his game, and that’s been some­thing that he’s been re­ally stub­born about over the last cou­ple of years,” Furrey said. ‘‘[His think­ing was], ‘I’m big­ger than every­body. I can just out­man them.’ And that doesn’t work in the NFL. He’s done a great job of [im­prov­ing] those de­fi­cien­cies. He’s worked hard on them, and you can tell in prac­tice.”

Wims said he thought “stub­born” was a lit­tle harsh but ac­knowl­edged over­com­ing the nat­u­ral in­cli­na­tion to lean on his size.

“It’s just some­thing that’s nat­u­ral,” Wims said. “When you’re a 6-3, 6-4 guy, it’s nat­u­ral to play higher than nor­mal. 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 to fix it. Maybe I’d have come in a lot more pol­ished as a route run­ner vs. be­com­ing pol­ished now.”

“[HIS THINK­ING WAS], ‘I’M BIG­GER THAN EVERY­BODY. I CAN JUST OUT-MAN THEM.’ AND THAT DOESN’T WORK IN THE NFL. HE’S DONE A GREAT JOB OF [IM­PROV­ING] THOSE DE­FI­CIEN­CIES.” MIKE FURREY, Bears wide re­ceivers coach, on Javon Wims “[RI­D­LEY] NEVER MISSES AN EX­TRA WALK-THROUGH; HE’S AL­WAYS THERE. HE’S TRY­ING TO LEARN EV­ERY SIN­GLE PO­SI­TION. SO I’M RE­ALLY PROUD OF WHERE HE’S AT. I’M RE­ALLY PLEASED WITH WHERE HE’S AT RIGHT NOW.” MIKE FURREY, Bears wide re­ceivers coach, on Ri­ley Ri­d­ley

AP

Bears wide re­ceivers Javon Wims (left) and Ri­ley Ri­d­ley have been step­ping up in camp and look­ing more pol­ished.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.