Bears tight end Fendi Onobun showed flashes of athleticism and playmaking ability during training camp but has struggled mightily with dropped passes in preseason games.
In Thursday night’s exhibition finale against the Cleveland Browns, the 6-6, 260-pounder will get one last chance to prove he deserves a spot on the Bears’ 53-man roster. Final cuts are due by 5 p.m. Saturday.
“Fendi Onobun has had a very good camp and has been uncharacteristically inconsistent in the games,” said first-year head coach Marc Trestman. “You’ve seen things in practice that we haven’t seen in the games. Does that mean we’ve lost confidence? No.
“We’ve got to continue to have him work through it. This is really his first year of football and he’s shown the ability to do it. He’s just got to work through this phase when he gets under the lights that he can continue to play as consistently and I think he can do that down the road.”
Onobun followed an unusual path to the NFL. He played basketball for four years at Arizona before using a final year of college eligibility to play football at the University of Houston in 2009.
Onobun was selected in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Rams and appeared in three games as a rookie with St. Louis, catching two passes for 15 yards. He had brief stints with the Seahawks, Redskins, Jaguars and Bills before joining the Bears after the 2012 season.
Onobun has yet to catch a pass this preseason. He dropped a sure touchdown in the opener against the Panthers and had two more drops in last weekend’s win over the Raiders.
After the Bears returned to Chicago from Oakland, Onobun spent several hours at fellow tight end Martellus Bennett’s home having a heart-to-heart talk. Onobun and Bennett have been close friends since they were classmates and basketball teammates at Alief Taylor High School in Houston.
“I was just telling him that I think he just gets to the point where he just thinks football, football, football,” Bennett said. “But you could lose yourself. Football is not who we are; it’s what we do. Sometimes, when it becomes who you are, you kind of lose yourself. Every little thing that goes wrong with it, it affects you in a major way instead of being able to deal with the adversity.
“Bad stuff happens in football. You’re going to have the drops. You’re going to have a bad block. You’re going to have a bad play. Guys on the other side get paid $50 million to stop you from having a good play. For him, it’s just dealing with adversity and when something doesn’t go your way, put it behind you. Next play, you make a big block because a block is just as good as a catch. Make the extra effort on that. I think he just presses too much sometimes.”
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