Injuries took the knees out of the Chicago Bears recieving corps this season and only recently have the club's top performers returned to the field. The missed time by Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal, as well as the continued absence of first rounder Kevin White, has offered game time to many of the club's young receivers.
That includes Cameron Meredith, an undrafted rookie out of Illinois State. Meredith this season has 8 catches for 95 yards. Two of those receptions came during the game-winning drive in Week 5 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
At 6-3, 207 pounds, the 23-year-old has flashed his NFL potential and the Bears believe he can develop into a difference maker.
We sat down with Meredith to discuss his recent success, his bye week, his future and more:
"The bye week came at exactly the right time. We’ve all been working really hard since last spring and it was time to relax and refresh. I got away from football but not completely away from football. I’m went to my college (Illinois State) and saw all my friends there. It was homecoming weekend and there was a big game. That was a lot of fun. I saw the guys I played with and caught up with what they are up to now.
"I also rested. This work in the NFL is physically taxing for sure. Preserving your body as much as possible really makes a difference. If you have a day off, take advantage of it. That’s what all the vets have been telling me. It's also important to take time for yourself and for your family, and not lose sight of those very important factors that aren't related to the NFL.
"Looking back to when this all began in training camp I never could have predicted how things would go or how I would feel during the process. Really at that point I was taking things day by day and never looking any further ahead than the next meeting or the next practice.
"It's been so much more intense than I’d ever imagined. College ball is tough but this is an entirely different level. What I noticed first thing is the speed of the pro game. You have to remember that in the NFL everybody is a star. They are all the top guys from their college programs so the competition is amazingly difficult. And for me personally coming in as an undrafted free agent, I had something to prove from the start.
"I’m from the Chicago area and played for Illinois State so the geographical transition was an easy one. Another thing that helped me to some extent was the fact that I played quarterback for a time in college before changing to wide receiver. Going into the NFL, the more you can learn about the offense the better, and playing two positions like that helped for sure.
"Now that I am with the Bears it is the best possible learning environment. I watch guys like Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal play. That’s definitely learning from the best.
"With each of them out with injuries for a time, I had quite a bit of on-field experience - probably more than I would have had if they hadn’t been hurt. I loved being out there and felt I was progressing from game to game both in confidence and skill level. All the vets were available to answer my questions and help me improve every day. That made a huge difference as far as getting me comfortable in this job.
"The Detroit game was tough. It was definitely a game we wanted to win When you get so close then things slip away, it's definitely difficult. You do all that work, things are going your way but then you don’t get the W. Not good.
"I guess the plus I am taking from it is the power of selective memory. You learn what you can from a game then move on mentally. It's fun to ride a series of wins so you are building momentum in a positive direction. When you lose, though, it takes you down. You can’t let that discouragement or frustration hang around. Nothing good comes from that. A short memory. That’s important.
"The other positive I got from the Detroit game was knowing how to fight through battles like that. You’re down but you can come back. That’s so important going forward. For me as a rookie, all experience is good experience. I always find something good to build on.
"Now that we're back at Halas Hall, I’ll be working on my speed and technique. I enjoy watching Alshon and Eddie whenever I am not out on the field. All the guys lining up at wide receiver here are so skilled, its like a walking textbook in how to play well. They help me focus and learn how to do this job correctly.
"I do see definitley progress over how I played a few months ago. Every time I am on the field I am feeling more relaxed, more comfortable. I’m looking forward to the rest of this season. I love my job. It's a strong team and I see very good things ahead."