How much will Kevin White's role increase with Anthony Miller out?


While Matt Nagy said he doesn’t see Anthony Miller’s dislocated shoulder requiring surgery, the rookie wide receiver will not play Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. 

The spotlight, then — fair or not — will be on Kevin White. How much the 2015 first-round pick plays will be heavily scrutinized, as he’s been sparingly used through the first three games of the season but could have an opportunity to get on the field more starting Sunday. 

“So far, he hasn't been a part of (the offense),” Nagy said. “But I really like his attitude right now. I like where he's at. He's coming out and doing everything that we're asking him to do.”

The Bears’ receiving corps has had the following snap breakdown over the first three weeks, out of 220 possible snaps:

Allen Robinson: 199 (95 percent)
Taylor Gabriel: 178 (81 percent)
Miller: 112 (53 percent)
White: 26 (12 percent)
Josh Bellamy: 22 (10 percent)
Javon Wims: 0

Meanwhile, tight end Trey Burton has played 89 snaps from the slot and out wide, while running back Tarik Cohen has lined up in the slot or wide 26 times. But the Bears’ most frequently-used formation, which they’ve used 46 times, has three receivers (Robinson, Gabriel, Miller) and one tight end (Burton). In total, the Bears have run plays with three receivers on the field 115 out of 210 times (55 percent).

What also may work against White, too, is that the majority of Miller’s snaps (80 of 112) have come from the slot. White has only played three snaps in the slot this year, and only played 21 percent of his snaps in 2016 and 2017 from the slot, according to Pro Football Focus. So this won’t necessarily be a like-for-like substitution, though Robinson and Gabriel do have the flexibility to slide inside to make room for White on the outside if need be. 

So while White can expect an uptick in snaps, so too can Bellamy and Wims (who’s been inactive for the first three games of the season). But it also may not be just the receivers who get more snaps; again, Burton or Cohen could see more time in the slot to replace Miller’s usage there. 

Nagy and Bears coaches were positive about White’s outlook prior to the season, but that he didn’t get much of an opportunity in the first three games is telling. Of his 26 snaps, 16 were passing plays, and he wasn’t targeted on any of them. 

But what Nagy hopes to see from White is seizing his shot at increased playing time. We’ll find out Sunday just how great that shot will be, and if White can take advantage of it. 

“There are certain times you get one play, one opportunity, one chance to make something happens, and it does and it snowballs to bigger and better things,” Nagy said. “So, I appreciate what he's been doing, how he's been handling himself. He knows how this offense goes, he understands the roles with the wide receivers and he's been doing well right now.”

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