Bears' Riley Ridley draws early praise from Matt Nagy


Rookie minicamp provides an opportunity for coaching staffs to get a closer look at drafted players.

And for the players, it's a chance to make an impression by showing they grasp the playbook during the install periods of on-field work.

Mission accomplished for Chicago Bears rookie wide receiver Riley Ridley, who drew praise from head coach Matt Nagy over the weekend following a review of Friday's practice tape.

"I thought Riley had a good day," Nagy said Saturday, via Larry Mayer of the Bears' official website. "I thought he looked good, not a lot of mental errors."

Chicago selected Ridley, the younger brother of Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley, in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

The younger Ridley didn't blow up the stat sheet over three years at Georgia with 69 catches for 1,015 yards and 13 touchdowns. But as draft analyst Lance Zierlein pointed out in a pre-draft overview, Ridley is a "physical possession receiver who wins with attention to detail in his routes, plus body control and sure hands."

The Bears rookie gives a lot of credit to his older brother in helping the development process.

"My brother really prides himself on running routes," said Riley, who averaged a solid 14.7 yards per catch in college. "He takes that and gives it to me and just lets me know that running routes can really help you as a receiver. It helps you gain separation and makes the catches easier. You're more open. It makes your quarterback gain more trust in you."

Meanwhile, it's often easy for media around the league during this time of the year to get carried away with reports of players turning heads at rookie minicamps.

And the performances come with a major consideration often overlooked: the on-field work is done without contact and with players in shells (helmet, no pads). There is no such thing in the NFL as an All-Offseason Practice Team, after all.

Still, there's no denying Ridley can make the most of his time of the past weekend by carrying it over to upcoming organized team activities to gain momentum heading into training camp.

Having a grasp of expectations at his position and minimizing mental errors will only help Ridley as he gets set to compete in a crowded wide receiver group, which includes Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Cordarrelle Patterson and Anthony Miller, among others.