Rome Odunze's Commitment Surprises Even Bears Coaches

Ninth pick of the draft has been a tireless worker with a rapid understanding of all the positions and routes for receivers in Shane Waldron's offense.
Rome Odunze (15) has impressed Bears coaches with his rapid understanding of the offensive concepts and work ethic.
Rome Odunze (15) has impressed Bears coaches with his rapid understanding of the offensive concepts and work ethic. / David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
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Training camp probably won't come soon enough for Rome Odunze's family.

They can resume their lives then. In the next month they'll be taking on the role of the quarterback or offensive coordinator.

The rookie Bears wide receiver doesn't plan for simple rest and relaxation during his month away from Halas Hall but will dive instead into the playbook and beyond.

"You know it's unique because this will be my first time doing so at this level, but I have some habits that I like to do during the offseason," Odunze said. "I love to get the playbooks, get the installs and I love to go out there and just run through the routes, the route tree and have my mom or my dad or somebody say the play call to me. And I go line up or go out and run the route.

"So I look to be on the field and physically do things but I'm a note taker as well, a film watcher, all the things that you need to do to ingrain it n your head so when I come back for training camp I'm ready to go."

This might be fine except he is from Las Vegas and it can be a bit of a challenge for the play caller.

"When I go back to Vegas, mom is gonna have to go to work," Odunze said. "She's gonna have to be out there in that 115 degrees. She already knows that. But it's all love. They want the best for me. They enjoy it.

"I don't get to go home too often, so wherever it is, if we're in 115 (degrees), then we're in 115 (degrees). We just enjoy spending time with one another. She'll be out there."

Fortunately for the family, the former Washington receiver does expect to come back to Halas Hall a few weeks before camp begins so their private boot camp won't last too long.

"I want to be here at least two weeks before training camp starts so I can get in my rhythm, get in my routine, make sure I’m getting with Jim (Arthur, head strength and conditioning coach) and the strength and conditioning staff so that way when training camp comes around, I’m ready to go," Odunze said.

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This commitment to the process follows right in line with what Bears coaches have been saying about Odunze since he came for rookie camp after being picked ninth overall.

He is a real student of the game and the offense, and has taken right away to Shane Waldron's offense immediately as someone who is working to line up at any position, just like veterans DJ Moore and Keenan Allen.

"The great thing about Rome going from a draft process to on the field now is seeing that, whether it was him talking about plays or whatever was in the different formal meetings and pro days and all those things and then that comes to life when he gets into a new system and he’s able to pick up an offense right away, really understand all three of the receiver spots right away. So he’s not, not sitting there locked into one thing," Waldron said. "His really picking this offense up as a conceptual learner, I think, only helps for down the road in the regular season when you start moving guys around."

Bears coach Matt Eberflus doesn't see Odunze as one of those receivers who talks about handling all the positions and routes but really can't.

"He's playing multiple positions, and I really think that he's going to be able to handle those concepts," Eberflus said. "We all know the benefit of being with the two veterans (Moore and Allen)–seeing those guys, understanding how they operate during the course of a week. That's going to be really good.

"They're going to help him through training camp because there's wisdom there with years of experience. I really believe that he's going to have the ability to take off, because of the other players."

When this happens, Eberflus sees the automatic benefit in points.

"You're not going to be able to home in on one guy," Eberflus said. "Say we just had him, and he was the No. 1 right now. You’d be like, 'Wow, they can really do some things to him defensively.' But you're not going to be able to do that versus our crew."

Odunze's capacity for picking up the concepts stands out as much as his commitment to learning.

"Some guys just have a knack to do it, right?" Eberflus said. "They can see the pictures, the drawings in the classroom, and they can apply that right to the field.

"He's able to process a bunch of information at the same time and then take it to the field. He's really good that way."

With all the work physically and mentally, Odunze actually does plan to take a few weeks off.

"This first week, I'm gonna go see my momma, go see my pops, go see my girl, go see my brothers because I want to spend time with them," he said. "You never know when your next break is going to be.

"Go spend time with them for about a week or so, maintain my lifting and exercising just so I can maintain my shape."

They better be ready to call out some plays, though.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven


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Gene Chamberlain

GENE CHAMBERLAIN

BearDigest.com publisher Gene Chamberlain has covered the Chicago Bears full time as a beat writer since 1994 and prior to this on a part-time basis for 10 years. He covered the Bears as a beat writer for Suburban Chicago Newspapers, the Daily Southtown, Copley News Service and has been a contributor for the Daily Herald, the Associated Press, Bear Report, CBS Sports.com and The Sporting News. He also has worked a prep sports writer for Tribune Newspapers and Sun-Times newspapers.