Receiver Derby Wide Open

The Bears will be desperately seeking a reliable complement for go-to wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad once training camp begins, and for now, the competition is wide open. Who will emerge among a group of unproven players?

Justin Gage was second on the Bears last season with 31 receptions and 346 receiving yards, but he'll be hard-pressed to hold off younger, faster competition this season like Bernard Berrian, Mark Bradley, Airese Currie and Rashied Davis.

"Justin is Justin," said wide receivers coach Darryl Drake. "He's steady and consistent. Justin doesn't have the speed that you would like, but there's a role for him. He's a guy that when you put him in there, you don't (worry) because you know that he's going to do the right thing. You know that if the opportunity's there for him to make a play, he'll make it. Justin's a guy who you can put in and trust to do things the right way."

The 6-foot-4 Gage, who played basketball in addition to football at Missouri, creates mismatches with his size and leaping ability, but he hasn't ever established himself as a go-to guy who can get consistent separation.

According to Drake, there are several players in the mix.

"Right now that No. 2 is hard to say," Drake said. "With Mark Bradley (rebounding from a knee injury) and Justin Gage having a few injuries this spring, Bernard Berrian right now has the inside shot at it. But if things continue to progress, you need to keep your eyes on Rashied Davis because he has demonstrated this off-season that he has the ability and potential to be that guy. He's jumped into the mix in my opinion, and he needs to continue to do that."

Davis is a former Arena League star who played cornerback and special teams for the Bears last season but has switched to offense this year. In his final season with the San Jose SaberCats he caught 100 balls for 1,420 yards and 30 touchdowns. Still, Davis' chances of making the team will increase dramatically if he can find a role on special teams.

"I know that I have to be the fifth receiver to make this team. I know that I have to do well on special teams," Davis said. "I love kick returning. I just want to get that opportunity to go out there and make some plays. I know that I'm capable of making plays as a kick returner."


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