Does Caleb Williams need his top 3 receivers during OTAs?

Keenan Allen, Rome Odunze were not available Thursday

Chicago Bears wide receiver Rome Odunze catches a ball during the NFL football team's rookie camp at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Ill., Friday, May 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

LAKE FOREST – Which Bears receiver will be the first to 1,000 yards?

There tends to be lots of debates in NFL locker rooms. The most heated ones are almost always college football debates. The best chicken wings in town usually gets the conversation going. Who is faster than whom?

Bears veteran receiver DJ Moore isn’t interested in arguing about any of it anymore.

“They all talk about who’s the fastest,” Moore said. “I’m 27, them other kids – look at me, I’m calling them kids – my teammates, they are like 23 and 24 and under. Listen, I’m done with the talk about the fastest. I’m the fastest in the room.”

Speaking after practice wrapped up at organized team activities Thursday, Moore caught himself talking like the wily old veteran he is. Moore isn’t old by any stretch of the imagination, but perspectives change after six years in the NFL. Moore has never been the argumentative type anyway. He’s much more laid back.

As for who will get to 1,000 receiving yards first, the race is clearly a three-headed one between Moore, Keenan Allen and rookie Rome Odunze. Moore totaled 1,364 receiving yards last season for the Bears. Allen totaled 1,243 yards for the Chargers in only 13 games. Odunze comes is as the No. 9 overall draft pick with high expectations for his rookie season.

“I know I’m going to learn from Keenan because he’s been [on] top for a while now,” Moore said. “Rome has been asking a lot of questions and stuff like that. So I think we’re all just going to bounce ideas off each other.”

The Bears hope they have an elite wide receiver trio. It was a position that the front office had to upgrade – and did in trading for Allen and drafting Odunze.

The group has yet to take the practice field together, however. During the open OTA practice Thursday (which is voluntary for players), Allen was not present. Odunze was present but wasn’t participating because of a hamstring injury. The Bears hope to have Odunze back next week.

With two of his top targets out, quarterback Caleb Williams appeared to have some struggles against what should be a solid Bears defense.

Is it a problem that Moore is the only one of the expected starting receivers currently participating? Head coach Matt Eberflus downplayed any absences. Certainly the injury to Odunze isn’t something that can be helped. But Allen is embarking on his 12th NFL season. He’s as veteran as they come.

“Keenan is a vet-vet,” Moore said. “Like, a vet-vet-vet.”

Eberflus commended Moore for showing up (it should be noted that Moore has a $200,000 offseason workout bonus in his contract).

Our best player has got to be our hardest workers and they’ve got to be our best finishers and they’ve got to be available to practice out there, and DJ certainly is that.”

—  Matt Eberflus, Bears head coach

“Our best player has got to be our hardest workers, and they’ve got to be our best finishers, and they’ve got to be available to practice out there, and DJ certainly is that,” Eberflus said. “He’s as tough as they come, and he is a great teammate, and he is our hardest worker and one of our most talented guys.”

Moore said he just looks at his work as fun. He was present and willing to help build the connection with Justin Fields during OTAs last year, and he’s doing the same with Williams.

“You’ve got to get that connection down with Caleb and with everybody, even Rome and the whole room,” Moore said. “The whole offense just wants to be around each other and build that bond, the relationships that we had last year, and form it with new people.”

Would two more talented receivers help Williams? Sure. But the offense is bound to be a work in progress in May no matter who is available.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for the Shaw Local News Network. He has covered the Bears since 2020. Prior to writing about the Bears, he covered high school sports for the Northwest Herald and contributed to Friday Night Drive. Sean joined Shaw Media in 2016.