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White debuts in opener

The three-yard gain didn't move the first-down chains or extend an offensive drive. It was a simple screen pass and a nice juke to evade a defender. But for the wide receiver who made the play, the reception was a big step in his football career.

Over the past year, Kevin White put in day-after-day, hour-after-hour of work just to be able to get on the Soldier Field turf Thursday night. Chicago's first-round pick in 2015 missed his entire rookie campaign, including the preseason, after suffering a stress fracture in his left tibia. His rehab wasn't easy, and involved a lot of difficult training to get back to full strength. That work paid off in the first preseason game of the year, when White started for the Bears and caught a screen pass for a solid gain.


Kevin White at Soldier Field in his preseason debut in the Bears opener against Denver.

The catch was his only reception of the game in Chicago's 22-0 loss to Denver. White and the rest of the team's offensive starters played the entire first quarter before being removed from the game.

"It feels good to get back out there, but we didn't get the result we wanted," White said following the contest. "But it was cool."

The Bears had scripted that second offensive play of their opening drive to go to White, so the receiver was ready when his number was called in the huddle. Denver's defenders seemingly knew what the play was too, swarming White the second he caught the ball. However the receiver showed the athleticism and game-breaking ability that made him a sought after target in last spring's draft, evading a pair of Broncos before being taken down by nose tackle Sylvester Williams.

It wasn't a lot in the preseason debut; just one catch on a drive that ended in a punt, in a contest that ended in a shutout. However given the difficulties White faced in 2015, when he had to sit and watch the entire year while rehabbing his leg, one catch offered a glimpse of what the future might hold.

"It was fun but (the offense) didn't open up like we wanted it to," White said. We just have to go back and get better."

Though his impact on the box score was limited, White's teammates know what kind of difference he will make for the Bears offense.

"He went out there and competed," receiver Alshon Jeffery said of White. "He had a screen pass, it didn't really go the way he wanted to or like any of us wanted to because we didn't score on that first drive but we'll watch the film and get better."

Quarterback Jay Cutler was equally optimistic of what the offense can do moving forward with White on the field.

"(Kevin) is an explosive guy, he's a physical specimen," Cutler said. "Just finding ways to get him the ball in space and kind of let him catch and run and use that speed and burst he's got."

Following the loss, White was asked what he could learn from his first game in a Bears uniform. He mentioned how it's important to keep improving, study the film to learn what errors were made and then go back on the practice field to try and correct the mistakes. Nobody in the Chicago locker room likes losing, so the anger they feel on Thursday will serve as motivation in the future.

"We just have to fight adversity, keep playing the next play," he said.

In his young career, White has already shown his ability to fight through the toughest of adversity. After one game, the young receiver is ready to now prove what else he can do.

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