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Bears sporting upgraded receiving corps


The following is the third of nine position previews in advance of training camp.

The Bears will arrive in Bourbonnais in two weeks with a revamped receiving corps after targeting the position in both free agency and the draft.

General manager Ryan Pace and his crew made the position a top priority during the offseason, signing Allen Robinson II, Taylor Gabriel and Bennie Fowler in free agency while also selecting Anthony Miller in the second round of the draft.

Robinson joins the Bears after spending his first four seasons with the Jaguars, catching 202 passes for 2,848 yards and 22 touchdowns in 43 games. He will try to regain the form he displayed in 2015-16 before missing most of last season with an injury.

Robinson was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2015, recording 80 receptions for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. He followed with 73 catches for 883 yards and six TDs in 2016 but sat out 15 of 16 games last year with a torn ACL.

After signing with the Bears, Robinson revealed that the chance to play in the offense that first-year coach Matt Nagy operated with the Chiefs helped lure him to Chicago.

"It was a good fit for me," Robinson said. "You see a lot of big plays, you see some dink-and-dunk plays, you see everybody being involved. It's something that just looked fun to play in. Watching what coach Nagy did in Kansas City, I think it has a lot of versatility that I can be used in many different ways in this offense. I'll be able to play inside, outside, have some deep shots, work the short game and things like that."

Gabriel joins the Bears after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Browns (2014-15) and Falcons (2015-16). The speedy 5-8, 165-pounder has played in 58 games with 13 starts, catching 132 passes for 1,819 yards and eight touchdowns and rushing for 110 yards and 1 TD on 16 carries.

Gabriel caught six touchdown passes in helping the Falcons reach the Super Bowl in 2016. Last year he played in all 16 games with four starts, catching 33 passes for 378 yards and one TD and rushing for 49 yards on eight carries.

Gabriel was drawn to the Bears for the same reason as Robinson.

"It was just Nagy's offense, just his creativity and the things that he did when he was with the Chiefs," Gabriel said. "With Tyreek Hill and the things that he did with him to move him around and get him open, it was a no-brainer for me."

Last season Gabriel frequently spoke with his friend and former Abilene Christian teammate, Chiefs running back Charcandrick West, about Kansas City's offense.

"He would talk about it all the time and how he loved it, the different schemes and just kind of how [Nagy] was just a doctor at creating an offense and getting people open," Gabriel said. "If you go on YouTube, you see different things they did and how Tyreek Hill got open and how he made those explosive plays."

Fowler spent the past three seasons with the Broncos, catching 56 passes for 698 yards and five touchdowns while appearing in 45 games with five starts. Last year Fowler set career highs with four starts, 29 receptions, 350 yards and three touchdowns.

The 6-1, 212-pounder entered the NFL with the Broncos in 2014 as an undrafted free agent from Michigan State. He spent his rookie season on Denver's practice squad.

Fowler helped the Broncos win Super Bowl 50 in 2015, catching a two-point conversion pass from Peyton Manning late in a 24-10 victory over the Panthers. It was the final pass of Manning's career.

White, meanwhile, is attempting to stay healthy after being plagued by injuries during his first three seasons with the Bears. The 2015 first-round pick has missed 43 of 48 games. He sat out his entire rookie year with a stress fracture in his leg, broke his fibula in the fourth game in 2016 and fractured his scapula in last year's season opener.

On the rare occasions White has been healthy, he has shown the traits that convinced the Bears to select him with the seventh pick in the 2015 draft. He opened the 2016 season with 19 receptions in the first four games, the most ever by a Bears player in his first four NFL contests.

"How cool would that be to be able to get this kid to come back and be a dominant player?" Nagy said during the offseason. "You think he doesn't want that? Of course he wants that. So let's as coaches look at the glass half full and let's get this kid right. Now am I making any promises? Absolutely not. But I will tell you this, we're going to give that kid every opportunity possible."

The Bears traded up to land Miller in the second round of this year's draft. After redshirting as a freshman walk-on at Memphis in 2013 and missing the entire 2014 season with a shoulder injury, Miller blossomed, catching 238 passes for 3,590 yards and 37 touchdowns over his final three years.

The 5-11, 201-pounder had 95 receptions for 1,434 yards and 14 TDs in 2016 and 96 catches for 1,462 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2017. He set school records in all three categories in 2016 and eclipsed the marks in 2017.

"Really how I describe my game, I'm more than a receiver," Miller said after the draft. "But I have all the capabilities of a receiver. I can run, catch the ball. I would call it a 10 out of 10. I have great hands and I'm also physical, which a lot of people don't know about me. My passion for the game I think is just unmatched, especially at the position I play."

Other receivers who will compete for playing time in training camp include veteran Joshua Bellamy and rookie seventh-round draft pick Javon Wims.

With the 51st pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears select Memphis WR Anthony Miller.