Chicago Bears head coach John Fox believes that new wide receiver Victor Cruz brings swagger to a position group that is relatively young and inexperienced.
However, Cruz’s role won’t be limited to playing “mentor” for Cameron Meredith and Kevin White. Instead, Fox has bigger plans for the former Pro Bowl wideout.
We see him more as that third down slot receiver, that’s the role we have envisioned for him,” Fox told Tara Sullivan of The Bergen (N.J.) Record. “That was kind of our thinking, that they didn’t utilize him a whole lot in that way. … My biggest thing in researching him was is he healthy, and even though I’ve only seen him a few days out there, he looks fine. He’s not going to take the top off, but he can still react fast and rely on his quickness.”
The slot position seems open for business, and Cruz could have a leg up in the competition. Markus Wheaton is primed to line up on the outside, where he can potentially provide a deep threat for a quarterback who has thrown a decent deep ball when given time to operate – which happens to be a scenario that could unfold with an improving offensive line. This leaves two free agent additions, Cruz and Kendall Wright, to fight over time in the slot – a position in which the Bears haven’t had an effective receiver in recent memory.
And there won’t be too many training camp battles more intriguing than this particular tug-of-war. After all, Wright has had success with now-Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains when both were with the Tennessee Titans. But Cruz has more 1,000-yard seasons and receiving touchdowns than Wright (although, to be fair, Cruz played with a better quarterback in Eli Manning and a more sound organizational structure under Tom Coughlin). Both players, of course, are looking to return to the form that made them offensive bright spots for their respective clubs in the past.
For what it’s worth, Cruz also believes he still has something left to offer, telling reporters at last week’s OTAs that building a rapport with quarterback Mike Glennon and running his route tree could pay dividends and maybe cause some flashbacks:
“I think I have the potential to be that guy you saw a few years ago,” Cruz said. “We’ll see how it goes, but we’ll take it one day at a time.”
With the backing of his head coach and plenty of self-confidence, Cruz is setting himself up for success as best he can.