One week after starting the clock on Trubisky Time, it looks like the Chicago Bears are giving his top preseason target a chance to get the ball rolling on his NFL career.
Wide receiver Tanner Gentry’s second stint on the Bears active roster has the potential to be one that gives the coaching staff a longer look at a preseason favorite. Head coach John Fox said as much during his meeting with the assembled media on Wednesday at Halas Hall, telling reporters it was time to see what Gentry can do.
One player who sounds excited about Gentry’s arrival on the active roster is quarterback Mitch Trubisky, the man who will be throwing him the ball on Sunday. During his Wednesday meeting with the media, Trubisky said of Gentry: “He knows how to go up and get the ball. He’s a good vertical threat.”
The Bears offense needs a bit of variety to keep defenses honest and from focusing their attention on short and medium passes. This is where Gentry could make a positive impact, and Trubisky knows it. Gentry was targeted by Trubisky five times during the preseason, hauling in four passes for 77 yards.
There could be ample opportunity for Gentry to get in on the action Sunday, especially if the way the team used Tre McBride is any indication. Only Markus Wheaton (46 snaps) played more than McBride (42) on Monday. In fact, McBride – a practice squad call-up last week, out-snapped Kendall Wright (33), Josh Bellamy (7), and Deonte Thompson (7).
It’s safe to say there hasn’t been much of a vertical threat from the Bears offense this season. Running back Benny Cunningham has the longest play from scrimmage this year … and it came on a reception on a special teams fake from punter Pat O’Donnell. As it stands, the Bears are the only NFL team without a receiver with a 30+ yard receiving play.
Trubisky completed just 12 of 25 passes for 128 yards in his debut. But for as much as he flashed arm strength and mobility in his first start on Monday Night Football, a lowly 5.1 yards per attempt isn’t going to cut it. Perhaps a few deep throws intended for Gentry can loosen up the defense and add a jolt of life to the Bears offense.
Gentry has been with the Bears since signing as an undrafted free agent and is one of the rare Bears players who hasn’t missed practice time due to injuries. The time on the field seems to have served Gentry well, as Fox lauded the rookie for picking up the offense nicely, saying “He’s a smart guy. He knows the offense … He keeps catching our eyes.”
The Bears promoted Gentry to the active roster on Wednesday, parting ways with Deonte Thompson after he played 28 games (and made nine starts at receiver) in three seasons with the team.