Speed, Versatility Can Elevate Bears Receivers

A fast receiver corps might be deadly to an NFL secondary but a fast group who are interchangeable can cause even more problems.
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Damiere Byrd has played in a wide receiver corps with burners Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore at Carolina. He was even on a Panthers team with Ted Ginn Jr., long before he became old and lost his speed with the Bears last year.

Byrd has played in the Arizona Cardinals air raid-style attack and for Josh McDaniel's Patriots offense. 

This Bears receiver group is the fastest the free agent acquisition says he has been around.

"I think so," Byrd said. "I think it would be hard to put together speed in our room, collectively."

Kansas City already did this, but his point is well taken and the effect could finally be to get the Bears passing for more yards per attempt. In practice they show a much better ability to get open deep and complete the deeper ball.

"I think we'll be able to put out a lot of mismatches, put the defense in a position where they're not able to do exactly what they wanna do," Byrd said. "It's hard to cover three or four sub-4.4 guys on the field at the same time."

Well, three anyway. If there's a fourth it's breaking news.

Darnell Mooney at 4.38 seconds, Byrd at 4.28 and free agent acquisition Marquise Goodwin at 4.27 are all good threats for the deep ball.

For several years there has been this running joke of a feud between Eddie Jackson and Tarik Cohen and a few years ago Taylor Gabriel, about who the fastest Bears player is. And they always threatened to have a match race. There is no question now who the fastest is.

"Marquise Goodwin," Mooney said.

And that means Mooney is second fastest?

"Yeah, I'll accept that," Mooney said.

Byrd might think otherwise. Regardless, Mooney thinks he'll have the chance now with a faster group to display his own speed more.

"I really don't think I was able to use my talent, like my speed-wise," he said. "I didn't have anything breaking out where I was like catching a ball and using my speed or using how fast I am. I feel like I haven't had that in two years, from college in my senior year and my rookie year.

"I'm looking forward to being able to show that."

This would go hand in hand with his goals.

"This year I just want to be an explosive player, I want to be dominate," Mooney said. "I want to be a known factor, a known name. Not even so much for people to be knowing me as a person, but just my own preference of what I should be doing on the field and my expectations of myself."

If Byrd is going to show off his speed, it's going to be from a different position than how he's been used in the past. At least in the past two years he's been used mainly as an outside receiver even at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds. Now he's going to play some outside and some inside.

"It's new," he said. "I think over the years exclusively I've been outside. To be able to learn a different portion of the game and to be able to take advantage of this matchup on linebackers and safeties, a new opportunity to learn and increase and progress just like I’ve done over the past few years."

Byrd thinks he's not the only one whose role will call for more versatility.

"Throughout my career, I've always had to know every position," he said. "For whatever reason, I've always ended up outside and I think that's where I excelled at the most. And now we have a lot of guys who can interchange and be interchangeable parts."

It's interesting, as it says the Bears will be using speed in different ways all over the field, and this would mean more of Allen Robinson lining up in the slot than in the past.

"Being able to be in the slot or be outside, that's going to be the role," Byrd said. "You've got to learn it and perfect it and that's what I expect to do."

Mooney's expectations are a 1,000-yard season and numbers yet to come. He said he'll write those down before the season starts. He also expects to command opponents' respect.

"I mean, hopefully they respect me just as much as I respect them regardless of who is out there," Mooney said. "I'm hoping that they just believe that 'I'm going to go out here and ball and to watch out for 11,' but just having an understanding that I'm going to be a threat on the field and just respect it or I'm going to feel disrespected. And that's going to be a problem."

If all goes according to plan, the Bears envision this newfound speed giving everyone problems.

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