Chicago Bears Late August Scouting Report
Because of head coach Matt Nagy's preseason plan to put his top players in bubble wrap, this preseason has largely been irrelevant in terms of contributions from players who could be fantasy factors in the regular season. Here's a brief rundown of the last two preseason games and some notes heading into opening night:
QB Mitch Trubisky has not played since taking the first three snaps of the preseason opener, and considering how awful backup QB Chase Daniel has looked this preseason, that is probably a smart decision. If Trubisky goes down for an extended period, the Bears are in trouble, even with an elite defense. I mentioned in my last report that it would be difficult to see Trubisky making a big jump in his development this season based on his subpar training camp performances. Perhaps I was a bit harsh there. I do expect to see improvement over last season, but he needs to start hitting deeper throws and making better decisions on a more consistent basis before people start to say that he's turned a corner. He's not Patrick Mahomes, and I don't think he ever will be. But the Bears got to a Super Bowl with Rex Grossman at quarterback, and I think Mitch is an upgrade over Rex in every area except maybe arm strength.
RB David Montgomery and RB Mike Davis haven't seen action since the preseason opener, so nothing has really changed here. As I said earlier this month, I expect Montgomery to get the most touches and goal line carries, but Davis and RB Tarik Cohen will get some work as well. Rookie RB Kerrith Whyte showed off his elite speed on a 103-yard kickoff return TD that was nullified by a penalty in the second preseason game at the Giants, and he scored on a one-yard run later in the game. RB Ryan Nall had a 69-yard run against the Colts on Saturday night. Whyte and Nall may be fighting for one roster spot as the fourth tailback.
With the starters sitting out, the only receiver to really stand out this preseason has been WR Javon Wims, who has likely locked up a roster spot with his play. Rookie WR Riley Ridley had three catches against the Giants but none against the Colts. He doesn't seem likely to get enough snaps to be a fantasy factor in the regular season unless there are injuries. Nagy said that WR Anthony Miller (ankle sprain) may return to practice this week. Even if Miller is ready for opening night as expected, just keep in mind that he missed most of OTAs and minicamp along with a chunk of training camp. He also still needs some refinement in terms of route running and mastering the playbook. Miller's potential remains very high, but he may need a few weeks to fully get up to speed and get his timing down with Trubisky. If Miller has a slow start, Wims could be in line for more playing time.
TE Trey Burton is still expected to be ready for opening night, but like Miller, he may need some time to get fully up to speed after missing chunks of the offseason and camp. The tight ends battling for roster spots this preseason have been disappointing for the most part. TE Ian Bunting has caught a few passes but has had penalty problems. Depth could be a big problem here if Burton and TE Adam Shaheen can't stay healthy.
The Bears' backup defenders, especially the front seven, have been pretty impressive in the preseason, forcing several takeaways. The backup corners haven't performed as well. Rookie CB Duke Shelley has had his ups and downs. Whyte's negated kickoff return TD was one of the special teams highlights.
The Bears released PK Elliott Fry after he missed a 47-yarder against the Giants, leaving PK Eddy Pineiro as the only kicker on the roster. Pineiro rewarded the Bears' faith in him by making all five of his kicks against the Colts, including a 58-yarder straight down the middle. He always had an edge over Fry because of his stronger leg (he easily hit one from 63 yards in training camp), but there still no guarantee that he will be the team's opening night kicker. There's one more preseason game, then he needs to pray that the Bears don't decide to sign one of the kicker castoffs after final cuts.
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