Bears rookie TE Shaheen stands out all over the field

BOURBONNAIS — It's almost impossible not to notice rookie tight end Adam Shaheen during Chicago Bears training-camp practices.

It's rare to see someone who weighs 270 pounds and stands 6-feet-6 with the fluid movement skills and soft hands that the second-round pick displays.

But that doesn't mean Shaheen should be confused with a finesse-type player. He already has proven to be much more than an athletic big man.

“He's a real tough kid,” coach John Fox said. “He's a very dogged worker. He's not afraid to work real hard. Whenever a guy can work real hard, they'll get better.”

It hasn't taken long for the 22-year-old Shaheen to allay concerns about how he would transition from playing just three seasons of football at Division-II Ashland (Ohio) University to the NFL. He has quickly established himself as a weapon.

“He's just a big target,” quarterback Mike Glennon said. “He's a big man running down the field fast. He does a great job of just using his body. He has a tall frame which makes it easy for the quarterback to throw to.”

After just a few training-camp practices, it's easy to see why Shaheen led all college tight ends at every level with 16 touchdown catches last season. He also led all Division-II tight ends with 52 receptions and 867 yards.

A two-sport standout in high school, Shaheen once scored 44 points and had 20 rebounds in a basketball game. He began his college career on the court at Pittsburgh-Johnstown before the urge to get back on the football field was too great to ignore.

His size allows him to create mismatches all over the field, but especially in the tight quarters of the red zone. He can defeat smaller defensive backs with size and strength and outmaneuver bigger players with his athleticism.

“He has size and ball skills,” tight ends coach Frank Smith said. “It's like that kid in high school, that Division-I (prospect) who's 6-6 and everyone else is 5-10. I mean, they stick out.”

It's way premature, but because of his similar size and skill set, Shaheen been called “Baby Gronk,” after the New England Patriots' perennial Pro Bowl player Rob Gronkowski.

Tap the breaks on that one.

“I really have never said it,” Shaheen said. “I don't know how to respond to it because he's one of the best to ever do it. I'm just trying to day-by-day get better and do what I can do so that someday I can be as good as he is.”

Shaheen's biggest area for improvement is as a pass-blocker, since coaches at Ashland rarely asked to do that. Why would they?

“A lot of the techniques that come in blocking are kind of new to him, so he's just learning,” Smith said. “(But) you can see, once you explain things to him, he grasps them very quickly.

“They didn't ask him to pass protect, which is part of the (NFL) tight end skill set. So he doesn't have (pass-blocking) experience as much as running routes or run blocking.

“But he's done a great job so far. I'm excited with his progress up to this point.”

It doesn't take much imagination to picture Shaheen catching passes from fellow Ohio native and the Bears' quarterback of the future, Mitch Trubisky, for years to come.

“We have a great relationship,” Trubisky said. “I roomed with him this spring. Adam's a great dude. We help each other study. We're always hanging out, grabbing Chipotle daily.

“We're both from Ohio, so we like to (represent) that and stick together as rookies and continue to help each other in this offense and stay on track because we want to do great things here.”

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