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BEARS: Wims continues to shine

August 7, 2018

BOURBONNAIS — Sure, all of rookie WR Javon Wims’ seven catches and 89 yards Thursday night came in the second half of a preseason opener, but for the Bears’ seventh-round pick looking to earn a spot at a crowded position, it was an auspicious debut.

Wims was the leading receiver for a Georgia team that played for the national championship last season, and he established himself in the SEC as a receiver with impressive ball skills who could use his size, leaping ability and physicality to go up and win 50-50 balls. At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Wims caught 45 passes for 720 yards, a 16-yard average, and seven touchdowns in 2017.

But, lacking ideal speed (4.53 40-yard dash at the combine) and quickness, he went unclaimed until the 224th selection in the draft.

He says he’s over the snub — sort of.

“I was just blessed with the fact that I was able to get called and I landed here and the organization believed in me,” Wims said. “That’s always a blessing. I have that chip on my shoulder, but it’s a healthy thing. I want to go out here and prove people wrong.”

Bears WR coach Mike Furrey, who played eight seasons in the NFL, said Wims initially had some problems transitioning from the college game to the NFL, but his performance last week against the Ravens was an indication of his progress.

“I thought he struggled for a couple weeks,” Furrey said. “He’s trying to learn how to play at this level. The game helped him, and it gave him some confidence as far as learning how to play low. He [previously] played very high because, in college, he was able to dominate smaller guys with his size. He could open up his chest and big-body people — here, you can’t.”

Bears No. 3 QB Tyler Bray, who threw all the passes Wims caught against the Ravens, said he’s an inviting target because of his size, but he also is impressed with other facets of his game.

“He’s pretty smart; he gets football,” Bray said. “He understands leverage. He understands if a DB lines up outside, he can get his leverage and come back inside, so he understands the game.”

With the Bears’ top four wide receivers sitting out the Hall of Fame Game, Wims got his opportunities, and the former high school basketball star from Miami, Fla., tried to demonstrate he’s more than a guy who can come down with a jump ball.

“He had some work on the inside during the game, and when you play on the inside, you’re going to get a lot more press [coverage] than usual,” Nagy said. “He did a good job with that. He did a good job using his size, and he also did a good job using his release moves, so that was a positive.”

There’s more work to be done. Wims has made some impressive catches in camp, but he also has had some bad drops.

“In regards to some details, he had some sloppy routes, too,” Nagy said of his first game. “The numbers speak for what he did catching the ball, but there’s going to be some places he could get better.”

Wims appreciates the versatility he’ll be able to demonstrate in Nagy’s offense, which relies on all the receivers being able to line up in different spots.

“The great thing about this offense is that all receivers have got to know all positions,” Wims said. “Everybody. You kind of have got to be positionless and just be plugged in at [different] spots. This offense allows [you] to showcase that.”

Furrey believes the lowly draft pick can take advantage of those opportunities.

“He’s learning how to play the [complete] game as a wideout, not just the guy that takes off and gets back-shoulder balls and go balls,” Furrey said. “It’s [also] slant routes, in routes, 20-yard in routes. It’s all the little things that come with an NFL offense. It was a huge transition for him, [but] we’re excited about what he did in the game, and now he’ll continue to improve.”

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