With the Chicago Bears parting ways with veteran No. 3 receiver Earl Bennett this offseason, the team will need to find the next receiver to step up and help out the offense this season.
Enter Marquess Wilson. In his second season with the team, Wilson will be expected to compete with recent addition Domenik Hixon for first-string snaps heading into mini camp.
A 2013 seventh-round draft pick, the 6-foot-3, 194-pound Wilson has the size to be successful in this Bears offense playing alongside Brandon Marshall and last year’s breakout star Alshon Jeffery. It is a good sign for the Bears that Wilson is working out this offseason with Marshall and Jeffery down in Florida, and it is these workouts before last season that helped Jeffery become a Pro-Bowl receiver. Perhaps the biggest hurdle for Wilson to overcome heading into the season is convincing QB Jay Cutler that he can trust him in key situations.
It has been well documented that Cutler’s game can be a little too Marshall-centric because he trusts his good buddy with the ball more than his other receivers, though, he did show some faith in Wilson during the season finale last year. In a pivotal moment during the winner-take-all game against the Green Bay Packers, Cutler threw to Wilson, who held his own with a tough 10-yard reception in traffic.
With fellow receivers Marshall and Jeffery, running back Matt Forte and tight end Martellus Bennett also on the field, the number of balls heading Wilson’s way will most likely be few and far between, though, his impact will be more quality than quantity. In key third-down situations, with teams concentrating on Marshall and Jeffery, Wilson should be able to draw coverage from a linebacker — a matchup that will usually favor Wilson.
With the team set to draft heavily for defense this year, it seems that Wilson’s main competition for playing time will come from Hixon, who has suffered two torn ACLs in his career already. The ball appears to be in Wilson’s court heading into the season, and as long as he is able to have a successful summer camp, expect him to be the No. 3 receiver on the roster come Week 1.
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