Chicago Bears wide receiver Dazz Newsome has been an afterthought in any discussion about the team’s wideouts. As a sixth-round pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, Newsome’s chance to make a splash this season appeared erased when general manager Ryan Poles signed veterans Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown. His selection of Velus Jones Jr. in the third round of 2022’s draft, and his trade for N’Keal Harry, pushed Newsome down the depth chart even further.
But after the first bundle of padded practices, the Chicago Bears’ wide receivers have thinned. Injuries are piling up. Pringle’s quad has him sidelined. Harry has a high-ankle sprain. David Moore went down Tuesday with a lower-body injury. Jones Jr. has been out of camp for a few days, too.
That leaves Newsome, all 5-11 and 190 pounds of him, as one of quarterback Justin Fields’ primary targets in practice. And according to Pro Football Focus (and with help from NBC Sports Chicago’s Josh Schrock), he’s taking full advantage of the increased reps.
“A 2021 sixth-round pick out of UNC, Newsome has been one of the lone bright spots for Chicago at wide receiver in training camp,” PFF’s Doug Kyed wrote. “He was also taking punt return reps in Tuesday’s practice. Bears wideouts Velus Jones, Byron Pringle and N’Keal Harry weren’t practicing Tuesday, and David Moore was carted off the field.”
Despite having a pro season on his resume, 2022 is like another trip through a rookie season for Newsome. He was targeted just five times in 2021, catching two of them for 23 yards. He appeared in three games and earned a forgettable 48.1 grade from PFF. His failure to make any sort of impact last year put his roster status on shaky ground this summer. Despite PFF’s optimistic spin on Newsome’s training camp so far, he’s still listed among the bundle of fourth-string wide receivers on the first unofficial Chicago Bears depth chart. He is the starting punt returner, however.
Opportunity is often the key to unlocking a successful NFL career. Dazz Newsome will get his in the preseason opener on August 13 against the Kansas City Chiefs. If he makes a few splash plays, his odds of being a factor in the regular season will go way up.