Replacing Booker Calls for a Group Effort

Chicago - WR Bobby Wade feels that he has something to prove now that Marty Booker is a Dolphin. While Wade can't replace a Pro Bowl receiver alone, he can help pick up the slack.

Despite the fact that the Bears don't have a wideout with a 50-reception season on their NFL resume, the crop of young talent played a part in dealing Booker

"In order to make a trade like this you have to feel comfortable with the other receivers that you have," Lovie Smith said.

The player most directly impacted by Booker's departure is Wade.

Underutilized as a rookie, Wade caught just 12 balls. He might be best remembered for dropping a punt against San Francisco in the 2003 season opener.

For those that don't know Wade he has built a reputation for being a precision route runner and reliable third down target. At 5-foot-10, 192 pounds and without track speed, Wade needed to be strong in the fundamentals of the game in order to succeed.

"Bobby Wade is sensational, he's a terrific talent. And we're going to take advantage of him," Shea said.

Booker caught 197 in two seasons (2001-02) before his production fell to 52 receptions during an injury plagued '03 campaign. However in Terry Shea's offense one receiver isn't expected to have huge numbers on a weekly basis. So replacing Booker becomes more of a group effort.

"You'll see a receiver catch two balls one game and he may come back and catch eight the next game," Shea said. "Our guys understand and they've got to play through it. If they're emotionally down and up guys because they don't get more than two catches, this offense is going to be that way."

Wade was ready to play a major role in the scheme before the trade. The 2003 fifth-round pick just from apprentice to master blacksmith in a matter of hours.

"I thought that I would be in the lineup behind him for quite awhile. I had hoped to work my way up to starter eventually, but this certainly happened sooner than I would have predicted, but I'm ready to start," Wade said. "I've worked hard and had a good training camp. This is what I've been aiming for all my life. The opportunity is here and I certainly plan to make the best of it. If I need to work harder that's exactly what I'll do."

As a four-year starter at Arizona, Wade was used to getting the ball. He finished as the Wildcats leading receiver with 230 catches for 3,351 yards and is third all-time with 23 touchdowns. Now in just his second season Wade must try to replace his mentor.

"What did I feel when I first heard the news? I was heartbroken. He was like a big brother to all of us," Wade said. "Marty took the time to help us and to encourage us when we were new to the team. His view of things made the transition from the world of college ball to the pros that much easier. Just think about it. Marty was a Pro Bowler. He earned our respect. That's the kind of player who can teach the newer guys a lot."

Booker had been considered Rex Grossman's go-to receiver. The chemistry Wade and Grossman built while on the scout team together should help ease the transition.

"I just think he's got to understand more opportunities are coming his way," Grossman said. "He doesn't need to put pressure on himself, he just has to go out there and make plays."

Beth Gorr contributed to this report.


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