For Chicago Bears' Shaheen, it's all about being healthy
Visiting with Bears tight end Adam Shaheen, one gets a sense of a young man who feels like in some ways he just can't catch a break.
Not from the Bears, media or fans, but from the football gods that seem to decide arbitrarily who gets hurt and who gets to stay healthy.
After an up-and-down rookie campaign in which Shaheen did well occasionally, but predictably appeared less than ready for prime time while trying to make the huge leap from the depths of FCS college football to the NFL, he felt a great off-season of work had him poised to break through in 2018.
"I mean it (stinks) because I was doing well rookie year," Shaheen said, "everything was what it was with the previous coaches.
"We weren't winning a lot and then coming in last year I had a good training camp, good preseason, and then it hurts to get hurt in a preseason game and then come back and play on one foot really for the last, for whatever it ended up being.
"It was a bummer, but even saying that my injuries have been not like normal, they haven't been like a pulled hammy or an ACL or anything like that. It's been some things that the doctors haven't seen in years."
Is he ready now to be a complete receiving and blocking tight end in Year 3 with the Bears? He says, "I think, my thing, everybody knows when I'm healthy, I'm fine. It's about being healthy, so that's my goal."
Kevin Gilbride, Shaheen's position coach, seems to agree.
"He was in a great place. He had all last spring healthy. Summer break healthy, training camp, he was right where we wanted him to be as far as his development.
"Then he got hurt and when he came back he still was hurt.
"He wasn't injured, but he couldn't get his body into those positions he needed to get himself into as far as his injury."
On Wednesday at OTAs, Shaheen was one of the stars of the day, with a couple of special catches and moving remarkably well for a man of his significant size.
Ah, the size. Every bit of 6-feet-7, 265 pounds. The Bears believed they might have unearthed a rare gem when they selected him with the 45th pick in the 2017 draft.
But this off-season, Shaheen decided to leave nothing to chance and added martial arts to his workout regimen in the hopes of improving his balance, flexibility and perhaps drop just a few pounds.
"I lost a little weight, did some things this off-season like got into a bunch of Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu, as well as the lifting stuff to get in better shape as well as doing stuff, a lot more 'pre-hab' stuff."
Asked how much weight he has lost, Shaheen said, "Only like seven pounds, but coming back from the injury it was hard to run, especially with a foot, so I wasn't in the best shape at the end of last year.
"But I had to do what I had to do to help the team out."
Gilbride is frank in his assessment of the work Shaheen still has in front of him:
"Where he's come from as far as college and in his development, he's got a long way to go still. He needs to stay healthy in order to do that because once he does go down it's like starting over because he's got to retrain his body in order to execute what we need him to execute.
"I like where he's at right now in that he's healthy and it's good to see him out there running around and making breaks like he was making breaks before."
What's hard not to like about the kid is his always-present grin. Ask him if he's feeling the pressure at all to arrive this season and he won't even blink.
"No, my thing is being healthy," he said. "If I'm healthy, I'm very confident in what I can do is what it comes down to for me."
• Hub Arkush, the executive editor of Pro Football Weekly, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Hub_Arkush.