Desmond Clark and John Gilmore have missed the bulk of training camp because of hamstring injuries, which moved Dustin Lyman atop the depth chart with Reid as the top backup.
However Lyman went down with a knee injury on Monday. While the injury isn’t considered serious, it did give Reid a chance to work with the first team offense.
"I know that the window of opportunity in the NFL is so short and I’ve got one now and I’m grateful for that, so I’ve just got to take advantage of that everyday," Reid said.
The 6-foot-4, 253 pounder out of BYU has been true to his word thus far. He caught a touchdown pass in Saturday’s scrimmage against the Rams for the Bears only score. In Monday’s practice he made a one-handed grab in the end zone during eleven-on-eleven drills. For a fringe player trying to make a roster every play becomes that much bigger.
"He's a good receiver, he understands the passing game and is fast and can catch the ball well," said Rex Grossman of Reid. "He's getting a chance to prove himself, has had a lot of reps and a lot of opportunities to catch the ball and has responded well."
Reid has had to be a quick study his entire football career. He only played one year of high school football and that was spent between quarterback and wide receiver. He walked-on at BYU, but red-shirted his freshman year and then went on a two-year Latter Day Saints mission in Santiago, Chile.
By the time Reid played for the Cougars in 1999 he was 21. As a junior, he backed up Oakland’s Doug Jolley before earning all-Mountain West Conference honorable mention as a senior. While splitting time at TE, he caught 18 passes for 192 yards and five touchdowns.
After going undrafted in 2003, Reid eventually ended up on the Tennessee Titans practice squad before the Bears claimed him in December. He spent the final five games of his rookie season on the active roster, but actually only played in one game.
The style of offense Terry Shea has installed has been friendly to tight ends in the past, including five-time Pro Bowler Tony Gonzalez.
"I love this offense," Reid said. "You just get down field and run, you don’t sit in zones, so it’s great for me because when I’m running routes I just have to get open."
Between growing up in American Samoa and his travels to South America, Reid has become fluent in Samoan, Spanish and English.
On occasion Reid’s been mistaken for Dewayne Joseph, who is also known as "The Rock." The wrestler turned actor has a few pounds on Reid, so he had to come up with a more appropriate nickname.
"Just call me the Pebble, I’m not as big as the Rock," Reid said.
Reid’s play has been catching the attention of his coaching staff, as he becomes a factor in the passing game.
"Gabe Reid has done a nice job of ascending," Shea said. "We’ve gone through 27 practices in the off-season so you get a pretty good feel about what they’re strengths are and he’s done that in the off-season."
Blocking is something Reid needs to improve on and specials teams will also play a role in him making the team.
Reid, 27, is grounded by his two daughters and wife of four years.
"I think with a family I have more pressure because I have to buy diapers and formula, but at the same time I think having a family makes it a little bit easier for you," Reid said. "Everyday I go and look at my two girls’ pictures and it just puts everything back into perspective for me.
"When I don’t want to practice, because everyone has days that they don’t want to practice, I just think about my kids and how I want to provide for them a living that I never had."