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Chicago Bears 2017 Position Battles: Will wide receiver Tanner Gentry make the final 53?

NCAA Football: Poinsettia Bowl-Brigham Young vs Wyoming Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

In both years of the John Fox era with the Chicago Bears, his teams opened up with six wide receivers on the 53 man roster. If the Bears go six again, they may do so to sneak a special team specialist as that sixth wide out spot. Whether it be a returner or a guy that can run down on the coverage teams, that remains to be seen, but hopefully, he’s a guy that can contribute if called on to play some offense.

The last few years, the Bears receiving corps have been hit hard by injuries, so having capable backups is a must. That’s one of the reasons general manager Ryan Pace brought in three veteran receivers to bolster the unit, but he also brought in an undrafted free agent that is turning heads.

More on him later...

Roster Locks

Cameron Meredith, who was thrust into a prominent role last year, has been looking like a legit #1WR in camp so far. His hands are good, his route running is fluid, and reports have him making things look very easy as he prepares for his third season. Kevin White, who finally had a decent day of camp yesterday, will need to shake off all the rust from only playing four games the last two years, but also flash the skills that made him a number one draft pick. His upside make shim a roster lock.

Victor Cruz has been looking like he’s healthy so far for the Bears, and if he can stay that way, he’s in line to win the slot receiver job. Also in the mix to get some slot reps, is Kendall Wright, who has been solid in camp.

"I can't say enough about Kendall Wright," said position coach Zach Azzanni of a player who came in with a reputation as disgruntled in Tennessee. "He's totally bought in and been awesome. He's like having a graduate assistant on the field with me."

Wright, while a good fit in the slot, can also play outside.

A good bet to make it

Markus Wheaton, who is currently sidelined after having his appendix removed, received $6 million guaranteed, so I can’t see him being cut. He’s another guy that can play both split out and in the slot.

On the bubble

So, if the Bears only carry five, then that’s it, but a battle for a sixth wide out will be a fun one to watch.

Here are the contenders, listed by the chances I give them to get released.

Rueben Randle - He has some athleticism and skills, but his work ethic and focus has been a problem in the past.

Daniel Braverman - If the Bears didn’t bring in three guys that can work from the slot, then the 5’10” Braverman would have had a better chance to stick. I can see him heading back to the practice squad.

Titus Davis - The 6’1” Davis has had a couple flash plays at camp, but he’s a long shot.

Deonte Thompson - If none of the newcomers can wrangle the kick returner job away from Thompson, he may survive another year.

Josh Bellamy - As a special teamer, Bellamy is one of the best, but he had case of the dropsies last year. If he can prove his hands are better, he’ll probably stick.

Tanner Gentry - At 6’2”, 209, Gentry is physical enough to work into the third phase covering kicks, but his talent as a receiver may be enough for the Bears to keep him as a 6th WR. He’s been a fan favorite at camp, and Bravermania is a thing of the past, and has been replaced by Tannerpalooza.