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Offensive players to watch in training camp


There will be several interesting storylines to monitor when the Bears kick off training camp later this week at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais. Four players on offense who will be especially intriguing to watch include the following:

Mitchell Trubisky

With Trubisky piloting a new Bears offense, all eyes will be on the second-year quarterback's growth in the system on the practice field at ONU. After making major strides during minicamp and OTA workouts, Trubisky will look to pick up where he left off when the pads come on and the intensity level rises in training camp.

The 2017 first-round draft pick feels that he's a perfect fit for the scheme, saying during an offseason interview on NFL Network that "I really feel like I was built for this offense. It's dynamic, it's creative and it's also balanced, and that's what you want. I just feel this offense is going to utilize my talents more and the players we have around me, and hopefully we can just get it rolling from there."

The Bears have seemingly put Trubisky in position to succeed, having hired two men with a history of getting the most out of quarterbacks in head coach Matt Nagy and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, while also adding key weapons during the offseason in receivers Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Bennie Fowler and tight end Trey Burton.

Tarik Cohen

The electrifying running back will look to build on a breakout rookie season in a creative offense that appears ideal to make the most of his versatility and unique skills. The scheme is a wide open one that calls for playmakers to line up all over the field in an effort to take advantage of their strengths and create favorable matchups.

"I feel like I fit very well into the offense," Cohen told reporters after an offseason practice. "I'm doing a little bit of everything out here—outside receiver, in the slot and running back, and also special teams. I feel like this is the offense for me."

After being selected by the Bears in the fourth round of the 2017 draft, Cohen displayed the same game-breaking ability that earned him the nickname "The Human Joystick" at North Carolina A&T. He rushed for 370 yards and two touchdowns on 87 carries, caught 53 passes for 358 yards and one TD, averaged 9.4 yards with one touchdown on 29 punt returns and averaged 22.4 yards on 26 kickoff returns. Cohen also threw a 21-yard TD pass on a halfback option play.

Allen Robinson

The prized free-agent acquisition likely will become an integral part of the Bears offense as their No. 1 receiver—barring any setbacks in his recovery from a torn ACL he sustained in last year's season opener while playing for the Jaguars. Robinson returned to participate in individual drills late in OTAs and is expected to be ready for training camp.

Selected by Jacksonville in the second round of the 2014 draft, 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 before missing most of last season.

The Bears view Robinson as a receiver who can do it all.

"He's well-rounded in the fact that he's a big receiver that can run every route that's out there, and especially in this offense he can do that," Nagy said. "Then you get him in the red zone, he's a guy that can go up and win 50/50 balls. The one thing that stood out to me breaking him down as a player with Jacksonville was for someone his size I thought he was really good at beating press, which you will see normally with bigger guys. I thought he does a really good job of that."

Trey Burton

The Bears are hoping that Burton can play the role that tight end Travis Kelce excelled in under Nagy's tutelage with the Chiefs. To that end, Burton was one of the first players that Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace discussed acquiring, a conversation that took place in early January as the two flew from Kansas City to Chicago after Pace hired Nagy as head coach.

"The very first thing he said was the value of the 'U' tight end or the 'F' tight end, which is kind of that move tight end that's flexed out a lot," Pace said during the offseason. "So immediately my wheels started turning, 'OK, who is that in free agency, who is that potentially in the draft,' and we quickly identified Trey as a target."

Burton appealed to the Bears because he possesses the traits to thrive at a key position in their new offense and has experience in the scheme, having played for coach Doug Pederson with the Eagles. Pederson worked with Nagy on Andy Reid's staff in Kansas City.

Burton spent his first four NFL seasons with the Eagles after arriving in 2014 as an undrafted free agent from Florida. He caught 37 passes for 327 yards and one touchdown in 2016 and 23 passes for 248 yards and five TDs in 2017. He also threw a TD pass in Philadelphia's Super Bowl win over the Patriots last season.