The Need for Speed

The Bears had high hopes for Airese Currie when they took him in the fifth round of the 2005 draft. Injuries kept the wideout off the field as a rookie, but what he'll be able to offer this year remains uncertain.

Multiple injuries stunted any progress Currie could make last season. Surgery on his foot to repair a stress fracture kept him out for much of the first half of the year. Finally when ready to practice with the team, a series of muscle pulls eventually landed him on injured reserve without appearing in a single game.

The off-season allowed Currie to get healthy, but he suffered a quad injury during mini-camp. While it kept him out of several practices during June, he should be ready to go when training camp opens on July 27. Even so, there are questions about what he can bring to the table.

Over the course of his career at Clemson, Airese averaged 14.7 yards on 138 receptions for 2,030 yards and 10 touchdowns. However, wide receivers coach Daryl Drake admitted the team isn't sure what type of player Currie will be on the NFL level.

"We have an idea that we like the things that we've seen as far as his ability is considered, but again until he gets out there and we put those pads on and those DBs can put those hands on them and those kinds of things then that's when I'll know," Drake said. "He didn't have enough last year for us to really see those things. But you know it's a different deal when that guy can grab you and push on you and beat on you. So I'm anxious to see what he can do when that happens."

If the five-foot-11, 186-pounder is able to avoid getting jammed at the line of scrimmage, Currie has speed to burn and could stretch a defense stacked to stop the run.

"Fastest player on our team and we're excited about what we think he'll be someday," Coach Lovie Smith said of Currie. "We've had a few glimpses of what we think he can be with that speed. He just has worked extremely hard and he can be a wild card that could really step up and give us something that we haven't had in a while."

Currie is not among a group of receivers competing for the starting job opposite of Muhsin Muhammad. At this point, he's fighting for playing time as the fourth or fifth receiver on the depth chart.

Still, the collegiate sprint champion could be a major asset in the slot. The Bears tried to solidify the position in free agency, but were outbid by the Washington Redskins for Antwaan Randle El. Without adding any major upgrades in the off-season, Currie is one of many players who will have to share the burden.


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