So Adam Shaheen had a nice day at practice on Monday…
… but it’s just the latest in what has been a steady climb for the second-round draft pick from Division II Ashland University in Ohio.
Shaheen has impressed on-lookers all offseason, starting with rookie mini-camp and other offseason training activities. But while it’s fairly normal for Shaheen – 6’6″ 278 lbs – to stand out, it’s his play on the practice field that is turning heads for the right reasons.
Over at the Chicago Bears official website, Larry Mayer writes about how Shaheen has continued to shine during training camp practices, and it’s something you’ll want to check out.
It’s expected that Shaheen will be an oft-targeted pass catcher in the red zone, where he has already made his presence felt early in training camp. Mitch Trubisky connected with him deep down the middle during an 11-on-11 drill on the first day of practice, Mike Glennon raved about how he used his body to make himself an easy target for his quarterbacks, and even Mark Sanchez hit him with two touchdown passes on Monday.
Tight ends coach Frank Smith seems pleased with his star pupil’s ability to run, find the ball, and haul it in. “He has size and ball skills,” Smith told Mayer. “It’s like that kid in high school, that Division I kid who’s 6-6 and everyone else is 5-10. I mean they stick out.”
It’s been just five practice days at camp, but Shaheen looks like he could be more than a red zone mismatch. One of the most encouraging sign from camp is that Shaheen’s rising star isn’t just tied to being a big-bodied player with good hands.
Head coach John Fox lauded the rookie’s work ethic, saying: “He’s a very dogged worker. He’s not afraid to work real hard. So whenever a guy can work real hard, they’ll get better.” It’s also evident that one area where Shaheen seems to be getting better is as a blocker, which is something he wasn’t asked to do often in college. Fox has come away impressed with Shaheen’s point-of-attack blocking, which will be essential if he is going to get a significant chunk of playing time while running back Jordan Howard is in the backfield.
While Zach Miller is the established veteran and Dion Sims is the well-paid free agent, it’s Shaheen who’s caught the eye of his head coach, position coach, and starting quarterback. And that means a lot, considering the Bears’ crowded tight end room.
To be sure, we’ve got a long way to go before we have a better feeling of what Shaheen’s role will be when the season starts.However, it’s clear that he’s off to a good start, and his momentum should continue to build as camp goes on.