Bears WR Marquess Wilson looking to take next step
BY PATRICK FINLEY Staff Reporter June 10, 2014 7:34PM
Chicago Bears wide receiver Josh Morgan (19) catches a ball during an NFL football practice in Lake Forest, Ill., Tuesday, June 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) ORG XMIT: OTKNH174
Updated: July 12, 2014 6:33AM
In his first full year as a professional, Marquess Wilson gained weight, experience and knowledge.
The 6-3 receiver reported to the Bears’ organized team activities — which resume Wednesday at Halas Hall — last month at 207 pounds, having added bulk and explosiveness after participating in fellow receiver Brandon Marshall’s offseason workouts in Florida.
As a rookie, Wilson learned not to complain and how to block. The result is a new comfort level, both with coach Marc Trestman’s scheme and with himself.
‘‘It’s better [than] last year
because last year I was thinking a lot on the field,’’ Wilson said. ‘‘This year I can just play. I feel freer on the field. It just feels good.’’
The Bears are counting on him. Despite catching only two passes last season, Wilson is penciled in as their No. 3 receiver behind Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
‘‘If I know my role and if I know the plays, I shouldn’t feel pressure on myself,’’ said Wilson, a seventh-round draft pick in 2013. ‘‘I can’t play with pressure. I’ve got to play with confidence.’’
If he doesn’t, the Bears have a backup plan. They signed veterans Josh Morgan and Domenik Hixon to push Wilson. When Hixon tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on the first day of OTAs, the Bears added two more receivers — Armanti Edwards and Micheal Spurlock — with a combined 14 years of experience.
Wilson, though, is one of only two backup receivers to play a snap for the Bears. The other, special-teamer Eric Weems, has only three catches in two seasons with the team.
Receiver Chris Williams, the
favorite to replace Devin Hester as the Bears’ primary kick returner, was added to the roster from the New Orleans Saints’ practice squad late last season. He said the Bears’ offense shares ‘‘a lot of the same terms, a lot of same formations and route-running combinations’’ he learned with the Saints.
‘‘This is a little more of everything thrown at you at once,’’ he said. ‘‘But, yeah, it’s very similar.’’
Morgan has spent OTAs trying to learn every receiver spot and trying to expunge the San Francisco 49ers’ and Washington Redskins’ plays from his memory.
‘‘I’m new here, trying to erase all the playbooks that I had in my head, learn all this,’’ Morgan said. ‘‘Even though some of the stuff may be the same, you still gotta erase that terminology and learn this terminology.’’
One season removed from leading the Redskins with 48 receptions, Morgan likely will have to play special teams to stick with the Bears. He returned eight punts and 12 kickoffs last season.
‘‘It’s like being a rookie all over again,’’ Morgan said. ‘‘Coming out here, you just have to prove yourself all over again, just have to prove you can play this game. Just gotta go out there with that rookie mentality, like, ‘I gotta make the team.’ ’’
Morgan said that the Bears’ coaches are ‘‘on top of it more than any place I’ve ever been’’ and that Trestman’s personality is disarming.
‘‘I’ve never had a head coach as personal as him,’’ Morgan said. ‘‘He’ll come sit at the table with you. He’ll talk with you, ask you about your day, ask you about your family and everything. It’s very
refreshing to have a guy that actually practices what he preaches.’’
Just as Morgan will lean on Trestman, he’ll seek out Bears veterans for advice, too. That includes Wilson.
‘‘Everybody that’s been here
before,’’ Morgan said. ‘‘I’m basically a sponge right now, trying to suck up all the knowledge I can and apply it on the field.’’