Chicago Bears wide receiver Kevin White's career has not gone as planned. Entering his fourth season -- a crucial contract year for the 2015 first-round pick -- the 26-year-old switched up his offseason training regimen. That included spending time training with Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky at a facility in Anaheim.
"I'm sure people will make a big deal of it, us working together," White told ESPN. "We were trying to get the timing down, trying to see what each other likes or don't like, just trying to communicate. That's the biggest thing. It was just two guys working, wanting to be great."
White spent the past three offseasons training in Arizona. But after missing 43 of 48 games due to various injuries, White said he wanted to "change things up." The Bears declined to pick up White's fifth-year option (worth $13.9 million) in May, meaning he will become a free agent after the 2018 season. This offseason, White reconnected with Chris Flores, a trainer and the owner of Sports Training and Rehabilitation Services (STARS) in Anaheim, California. White worked with Flores during his time at West Virginia.
"After his first few years, he didn't get the results he was expecting, so he decided to come back home," Flores said. "He's obviously had a lot of leg injuries, a lot of issues. So we tried to strengthen his legs individually, then translated that directly [to] what we wanted to do with routes. We did a lot of single-leg isolation stuff, getting his legs as strong as possible to prevent injuries and be more proactive. He improved his core strength and got a lot stronger, but the biggest part was the small muscles in the feet -- a lot of focus on the ankles, a lot on the feet."
Flores said "almost the entire summer, every time [White] had a break, he flew to L.A. and went to work." White trained alongside his brothers; Kyzir, a linebacker, was drafted in the fourth round by the Los Angeles Chargers, and Ka'Raun, a wide receiver, was an undrafted free agent who will be at the Cincinnati Bengals' training camp.
Trubisky was also training in Southern California. When they both were in town, the two met up for throwing sessions.
Flores said Trubisky and White didn't get to throw too much to begin the summer, but by the last three to four weeks of training, they did two throwing sessions a week -- and sometimes even three times a week. Some of the throwing sessions lasted 45 minutes to an hour.
"They really wanted to get their timing down," Flores said. "And it felt like they were peaking at the right time."
White, the No. 7 pick in 2015, was GM Ryan Pace's first draft pick with the Bears. White has 21 career receptions for 193 yards; 19 of those receptions and 187 of the yards came in the first four games of the 2016 season.
The West Virginia product was shut down for his entire rookie season after an offseason stress fracture in his left tibia required surgery. White's 2016 season ended in Week 4, when he was tackled in a game against the Lions and suffered a spiral fracture of his left fibula, along with ankle ligament damage. White returned for the 2017 season but was injured in the first game, when he broke his left shoulder blade.
Entering training camp, Pace praised White. "I just feel like there is a lot of momentum with his play," Pace said. "He's had a good offseason. He's playing with a lot of confidence."
White's base salary ($2,693,597) for the 2018 season is fully guaranteed, which increases his chances of making the roster next season, despite the Bears' committing big money (a three-year contract with $25.2 million guaranteed) to Allen Robinson in free agency.
Through the first four days of training camp, the coaches have given White a lot of targets. When asked what would make it a successful season, White said: "One is just being available and playing every day. Two is playing the way I can. That's all it is."