BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (AP) — A few days after Bears training camp began, coach Matt Nagy decided to test his wide receivers and defensive backs with one-on-one deep passing drills while the rest of the team watched the matchups.
It wasn't surprising when Allen Robinson emerged as the first receiver to beat a defensive back deep to haul in a touchdown pass from Mitchell Trubisky.
"Being with him that whole year last year and this past OTAs, him at practice, him at meetings, he's one of the top players I've every coached," Nagy said.
Robinson hasn't resembled the tentative player who started his first Bears camp last summer and has been more like the player who finished off the playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles with a Chicago postseason record 10 catches for 143 yards.
Well past a 2017 torn anterior cruciate ligament and several other nagging injuries suffered last year, Robinson has started to look more like the receiver the Bears thought they had when they signed him as a free agent for three years and $42 million.
"Last year, I don't think I started running routes until about June," Robinson said. "Being able to have the whole OTA time (this year), training before OTAs, going into OTAs, being able to train after, I think that's definitely going to be big for me."
So will going against Pro Bowl defensive backs such as Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller in practice every day at full speed.
"When you have a good offense and a good defense, that's what makes a good team," Robinson said. "Iron sharpens iron."
Robinson never got the chance to hone his skills to a sharp edge last season.
After he was over the ACL tear, a groin injury took him out of the lineup for two games and he had to fight through hip and rib injuries. He never approached the career high numbers he put up in Jacksonville in 2015 of 80 receptions for 1,400 yards and 14 TDs, although his big playoff game came while nursing broken ribs.
General manager Ryan Pace saw a different player in offseason work, and now it's carrying over to the practice field at Bourbonnais training camp.
"I think you see it in his route-running," Pace said. "(He's) just more explosive in his breaks and in and out of his cuts. For his size, he's a really natural route runner."
As a result, Robinson would appear destined for bigger stats. However, he won't predict it.
"I've said this since my second or third year: I don't really get into numbers predictions-wise, but I definitely expect to have a big year," Robinson said. "I have that expectation for myself. That's what I've trained for this offseason.
"I definitely expect to go out there, have some big games and help my team win a lot of games."
Nagy calls Robinson one of the most team-oriented players among a deep group of receivers.
"I have big expectations for him but that's not saying anything because I know he does too," Nagy said. "Again, last year being injured and not being here until training camp was hard, it wasn't easy.
"I think as the season went on everybody here could probably sense the connection between him and Mitch in the games. You saw it in the Eagles game and that's what we're hoping for as we go."
The Bears can use Robinson's abilities at this point because their deep receiver group has been a bit depleted early in camp by injuries.
Fourth-round draft pick Riley Ridley suffered a hamstring injury in the first day of practices, while former CFL receiver Jordan Williams-Lambert has a hamstring injury and rookie Emanuel Hall a groin injury.
"We have a lot of depth at wide receiver," Nagy said. "I think that's what you are going to see and what we're going to be able to see as we go here through the preseason."
The move the Bears want to see is Robinson becoming the go-to receiver for Trubisky they anticipated. Last year he led the Bears in receiving yards with 754, but Tarik Cohen (71) and Taylor Gabriel (67) had more than his 55 receptions. Nor did he lead the team in TD receptions, as Anthony Miller (seven), Cohen and Trey Burton had more.
The second year in the offense working with Trubisky for Robinson, and all the Bears receivers is expected to be a big asset.
"For us, just how we dissect the defense now is a lot better," Robinson said. "I think that as soon as we line up, we're seeing the coverages that we want. We're getting into the stuff that we want. We know the spots that we need to be in.
"The timing, everything, stuff like that has been good for us."
NOTES: Tight end Adam Shaheen missed Sunday's practice with back soreness. ... The kicking competition continues. On Saturday, kicker Elliott Fry went 7 for 8 in the middle of practice while kicking against a rush, and capped it off with a 60-yarder. On Sunday, Eddy Pineiro went one better and hit 7 of 8 but finished by making a 63-yard field goal with some room to spare. Pineiro's miss was from 53 yards and Fry's from 33. Both kickers had wind aiding them. "Everybody knows that we gotta get this thing right," Nagy said of the kicking job.