WR Wims could emerge as valuable asset for Bears in sophomore year.
Byline: Arthur Arkush aarkush@profootballweekly
Javon Wims led the NFL in preseason receiving yardage last year as a seventh-round rookie. He's unlikely to do so again in his second summer in the NFL.
Why? His sophomore strides have been too immense.
If he wasn't the second-best receiver in Bourbonnais, behind only unofficial offensive-camp MVP Allen Robinson, it's a coin flip between Wims and Taylor Gabriel. Yet, Gabriel last season caught a career-high 67 passes for 688 yards after signing a contract containing $14 million guaranteed to be Robinson's sidekick.
Wims was drafted with the 224th overall pick in Round 7 -- 173 spots after Anthony Miller, for whom the Bears moved back into Round 2 to select 51st -- dressed only four times as a rookie and wasn't on the 46-man playoff game roster vs. the Philadelphia Eagles.
"The biggest (difference this year) for Javon is acceptance," wide receivers coach Mike Furrey recently explained. "He finally understands that he can play in this league. He started that toward the end of the season last year.
"So he was ready to get back in the grind and get going and knowing he can play in the NFL, knowing that he can compete. Now it's going be knowing that he can be a No. 1, No. 2 guy when he goes in there. And it'll get there. It's just continuing to grow."
Wims told PFW on Saturday that a big off-season emphasis for him was picking the brains of Robinson -- with whom the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Wims is similar in size and stature -- and Gabriel, the smallest, fastest player in Chicago's wide receiver corps. He said he wanted to know how the vets in his room conduct themselves on and off the field to help improve his versatility and, subsequently, overall value.
"Ain't no such thing as a bad ball," Wims told us of Robinson's best piece of advice. "Catch everything."
Sounds simple, right?
Suffice to say, this circus one-handed touchdown catch was anything but. Note the corner battling Wims. It's first-team all-pro Kyle Fuller, who has been on the losing end of a number of summer duels with Wims, also including a long touchdown from Mitch Trubisky at Family Fest and even a scoring bomb from Matt Nagy in practice.
That's not an indictment on Fuller. Wims, in the process of learning all three wide receiver positions, also has had his moments vs. Prince Amukamara, Buster Skrine and others.
"I think it's not just about getting adjusted from his first year to second year but being able to slow the game down," said Robinson, in many ways a smaller receiver in a bigger body whose route running appears to be rubbing off on Wims.
"Knowing the amount of time that he has as a wide receiver, and not rushing his craft when he doesn't need to. So I've been staying in his ear about being patient, trusting his technique, knowing what he wants to get accomplished presnap, and I think he's been able to do that and the game is really slowing down for him."