LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — The Chicago Bears envisioned Kevin White forming a dynamic tandem with Alshon Jeffery when they drafted the receiver with the No. 7 pick last year.
A stress fracture in his left shin put those plans on hold. Now, White hopes to make it happen.
Healthy after missing his rookie season, White is trying to establish himself on a team that sees him as a key building block.
“It felt good to be back with the guys and with the team,” White said Wednesday after the second day of organized team activities. “I’ll be learning from my mistakes and watching film and moving on to the next day.”
It’s a new day for White and for the Bears after they went 6-10 in their first season under coach John Fox and general manager Ryan Pace.
The Bears chose not to offer two-time Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte a contract with his deal expiring and cut offensive lineman Matt Slauson.
Also missing, as expected Wednesday, was Jeffery, who is trying to lock down a multiyear contract.
While that issue remains unresolved, the Bears addressed weaknesses at inside linebacker by signing Danny Trevathan from Super Bowl champion Denver, Jerrell Freeman from Indianapolis, and adding a playmaker on the outside by drafting Leonard Floyd of Georgia in the first round.
Their offensive line has a different look after Chicago signed Arizona Cardinals right tackle Bobby Massie, clearing the way for Kyle Long to move back to right guard.
But the Bears are also down two playmakers after letting Forte go and trading tight end Martellus Bennett to New England. They also lost two veteran leaders in Forte and Slauson.
“When you think about the Bears you think about 22, Matt Forte,” Long said. “But the Slauson thing was really tough for me because he’s a guy that took me under his wing and showed me everything about being a pro.”
As for Jeffery, he is trying to work out a multiyear contract with the Bears after signing his one-year, $14.6 million franchise tender. They have a July 15 deadline.
Jeffery led the team in receiving with 807 yards last season despite calf, hamstring, groin and shoulder injuries that limited him to nine games. He played in all 16 games the previous two years, finishing with 1,421 yards in 2013, and 1,133 in 2014.
“Everyone wants Alshon here,” White said. “That’s his business. I just have to focus on myself and I’m trying to get better.”
The Bears’ plans for White in 2015 got squashed by his shin injury. He started feeling pain during organized team activities in June and missed the start of training camp. He ran on grass for the first time in mid-August, felt pain a day later and wound up having surgery.
Other than a three-week evaluation window late in the season, he was basically a spectator, trying to absorb from the sideline and in meetings.
He’s also trying to develop a connection with Jay Cutler on and off the field.
White watched the Super Bowl at the quarterback’s house in Tennessee. They talk about TV shows, with Cutler a fan of “The Walking Dead,” while White likes “Revenge.”
“Being on the same page with the quarterback is everything,” White said.
White paid close attention to Jeffery and veteran receiver Eddie Royal, particularly when it came to picking up coverages and attacking cornerbacks and safeties. But now it’s on White to show why the Bears picked him, to deliver on the promise.
NOTES: The Bears signed LB Jarrett Grace and waived LB Danny Mason. Grace attended Chicago’s rookie minicamp on a tryout after going undrafted out of Notre Dame. Mason spent parts of last season on the Bears’ and Denver Broncos’ practice squads.