The Bears' offense is hoping to begin developing an identity Monday night against the New York Giants at New Meadowlands Stadium -- and new wide receiver Roy Williams should be a big part of that identity.
Less than three weeks after that second preseason game the Bears will be playing for keeps against the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 11 at Soldier Field.
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All the skill-position players will see much more action Monday than they did in the opener, and quarterback Jay Cutler is looking forward to building a working relationship with Williams.
"He's coming along," Cutler said. "He's getting back into shape, taking more and more plays every day and you can see more glimpses of Roy Williams each and every day on film. Hopefully by Monday he'll be ready to go."
With no off-season program this year, Williams and Cutler have had just two weeks on the field together to develop a rapport. But the rangy former first-round pick who caught 23 TD passes in his first three seasons says the relationship is coming along fine.
"It's real good," Williams said. "It's kind of like two strangers meeting, trying to figure this thing out. We sit and talk and try to get this thing on the right track, and we'll see what happens."
When Williams last played in a Mike Martz offense, he caught a combined 146 passes for 2,148 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2006-07, despite missing four games. But his numbers plummeted the past three years with the Dallas Cowboys, as he averaged 31 catches and 441 yards and 4.3 TDs.
That ability to make big plays in the red zone by utilizing his size is one of the reasons the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Williams was so attractive to the Bears.
"I think that's where you make your money," Williams said. "That's how you get on TV. Fantasy football guys, they really appreciate touchdowns. It's a big part of the game. If we score, pretty much we win."
Although he started training camp slowly, leading some to question why he was promoted ahead of Johnny Knox as a starter, Williams' presence in the passing game seemed to increase every day before the Bears broke camp at Olivet Nazarene University on Saturday.
"He's shown a lot of improvement, and it should be that way," coach Lovie Smith said. "It's a new system, even though he's played in it (before), but he's just getting used to a new quarterback and being here. He's improved. It seems like he's making progress each week, and hopefully we'll see some of that in this game."
Because his production waned in Dallas, the Bears were able to sign Williams to a one-year contract for the bargain price of $1.5 million. They believe the 29-year-old is still young enough to recapture to dominance he demonstrated in Detroit.
If so, he'll be a major player in whatever identity the Bears' offense develops.
The game against the Giants will be the first real indication of what that might be once the regular season begins.
"I'm sure by Week 1, we have to have an identity, some type of who we are," Williams said. "It's a great test against the Giants. They've got two great ends, good linebackers, good secondary.
"So who are we? We'll find out."
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