Chicago Bears Training Camp: Five Players To Watch

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Marquess Wilson, WR

May 27, 2015; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Marquess Wilson (10) during organized team activities at the Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Some of us here at Bear Goggles On, myself included, have tabbed Marquess Wilson as a breakout candidate. This was a designation that I put on the third-year man out of Washington State even after the Bears drafted Kevin White and signed Eddie Royal in free agency.

For me this belief is rooted in where Wilson was as a college player before quitting the Cougar football program nine games into his Junior year. As a sophomore in 2011 Wilson accumulated 82 receptions for 1,388 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Despite the minor scandal created by his early departure from the team (and his accusations that WSU head coach Mike Leach was verbally abusive), Wilson still had a mid-round grade coming into the 2013 NFL Draft. In a low-risk roll of the dice on a highly talented player of questionable character, the Bears selected Wilson with the 236th pick in round seven.

Dec 21, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Marquess Wilson (10) makes a catch against Detroit Lions cornerback

Darius Slay

(23) during the second half at Soldier Field. Detroit Lions defeat the Chicago Bears 20-14. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

As the story goes from there, Wilson played sparingly as a rookie but came on strong in training camp last year before suffering a broken clavicle. The Bears kept him on the “designated to return” variety of Injured Reserve, but by the time he returned to action the Bears were mired in the Marc Trestman death spiral. In a limited role Wilson caught 17 passes on 32 targets, gaining 140 yards and scoring one touchdown.

Modest numbers, sure, and his performance upon his return was a bit of a letdown after the high expectations that were created before the training camp injury. Amid the backdrop of what the season had become in his absence, however, a somewhat uneventful seven games for Wilson wasn’t surprising. He was trying to get his sea legs while many of the Bears had already jumped ship.

Now onto 2015 and a healthy Wilson has again shown flashes in camp of the receiver he can be. More significantly, he’s occupying a bigger role in the offense thanks to the B-Marsh trade and ongoing Kevin White injury saga. The opportunity is there for Wilson in a way that it wasn’t in his first two years.

Wilson will turn 23-years-old on the day after the Bears’ season opener against Green Bay. He’s a young guy who had some growing up to do when he came to Chicago, but his whole career is still in front of him. Count me as one that is rooting for him to seize this moment.

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