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How Rome Odunze is embracing competition in stacked Bears WR room

How Rome Odunze is embracing competition in stacked Bears WR room originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Most wide receivers who are selected with the No. 9 overall pick in the NFL draft are guaranteed to have a significant role in whatever offense they’re joining. But Rome Odunze will have to establish himself in a Bears pecking order that includes two WR1-caliber players in DJ Moore and Keenan Allen, two pass-catching tight ends in Cole Kmet and Gerald Everett and even a capable backfield pass catcher with new running back D’Andre Swift.

In other words, Odunze will have to work for every target he sees next year.

For many wide receivers, that’s not an ideal environment. Some guys like to be THE guy and want to know they’ll be a focal point in the offense. After all, more targets means more catches and more yards and more opportunities to score. And more production on all of those fronts means more money when it’s time to negotiate contracts.

However Odunze has embraced the competitive environment he joined with so many other playmakers.

“What I want in a wide receiver room is for everybody to think they're Wide Receiver 1,” Odunze said before the first day of last weekend’s rookie minicamp. “That's the mindset that I bring into the room and it's a friendly competition.”

Make no mistake, it will be a competition within the group. Last week, Moore appeared on the “Up & Adams” show and shared his thoughts on the upcoming Bears season with a trio of top-shelf wideouts.

“It’s going to be a race to 1,000 yards,” Moore said. “It should be amazing.”

Moore isn’t worried about any drama developing if one WR earns a few more targets than another, or if one pass catcher lags behind a bit. It’s not surprising, since no one in that room would be characterized as a “diva” wide receiver, like some of the other personalities you see around the league. Moore also trusts new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron to develop a solid plan to use all the weapons at his disposal.

“I’ve seen the way he distributed the ball in Seattle,” said Moore. “His ways of doing that here is going to be amazing.

“We’ll all eat.”

Odunze understands that he’s the rookie in the group, and that he’s got a long way to go to catch up to Moore and Allen as a seasoned pass catcher. He’s also confident that as a big-bodied deep threat can complement both Moore and Allen, schematically.

“I'm going to provide a different skillset and a different versatility aspect to the offense,” Odunze said.

The Bears have worked diligently to reshape their roster to meet the culture that head coach Matt Eberflus and GM Ryan Poles wanted to build. If a player was going to get caught up in their personal numbers over the success of the team, they likely wouldn’t be playing in Chicago. It’s clear Odunze fits that bill, too.

“At the end of the day I want the best for the brotherhood beside me,” Odunze said. “I'm going to run every route and do every concept to perfection, even if I'm the main read or they're the main read, because I think that's what it's about when the brotherhood is in the room.”

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