Another day of Bears training camp is in the books.
The Aug. 2 practice was full of encouraging plays from rookies, lackluster performances from certain veterans, and the heating up of an already intense kicking battle. Though one should not jump to conclusions if a player is or isn’t playing well, it’s interesting to see how the team looks as the preseason draws near. Here are some of my takeaways from today’s practice in Bourbonnais.
This offseason has served as a time for many to criticize Mitchell Trubisky, whether they be Bears fans or not. Though training camp is not the time for one to change one’s mind about a certain player, the signal-caller did not do a great job of silencing those critics today.
Trubisky made a handful of great passes from short and intermediate ranges. He was rarely allowed to throw on the run, but his passes outside of the pocket looked sharp. His decision making looked impressive, too, as he consistently made the right read on RPOs and regularly made smart throws. As has been the case throughout camp, though, his accuracy was shaky, particularly on the deep ball.
He hit Allen Robinson with a dime in the back corner of the end zone on a go route, but not before he overthrew Javon Wims on the same throw. He also severely underthrew Marvin Hall on another go route, so much so that Hall had to cut backwards to try and catch the pass, which fell to the grass. Trubisky threw two interceptions on the day: one to Ha Ha Clinton-Dix on a poorly placed lob to the end zone, and one to Danny Trevathan after a pass breakup from Prince Amukamara.
Time will tell if these struggles will be reoccurring issues with Trubisky this year, as they have in the past. Now is not the time to panic or overreact to reports of how well or poorly any player plays, let alone the quarterback. However, it is still a bit disappointing that he has yet to iron out these wrinkles in his game. The first few weeks of the regular season should serve as an evaluation point for how Trubisky developed this offseason.
Montgomery is legit
David Montgomery was one of the best running backs in college football last year, and today’s practice showed why.
The third-round pick looked every bit as good as he did on tape, and he showcased all of the traits that made him highly coveted coming out of Iowa State. He showcased impressive lateral agility, making quick and sharp cuts in positional drills. He looked like a natural as a pass catcher, making smooth hand catches in stride when running routes and showing off fluidity in space.
The biggest play that he made today—and arguably the biggest play anyone made—came in scrimmage. He bounced outside when an opening up the middle failed to emerge, and he trucked a defender and broke multiple tackles. When tacklers finally wrapped him up, he managed to carry a handful of defenders a few extra yards and pick up a first down. His abilities were made even more apparent in live tackling drills, as he was able to show off his vision, balance and lower-body strength.
Montgomery will presumably see some time in the preseason, though the snap count he will receive figures to be relatively small. However, when he steps onto the field, he will be very exciting to watch.
Kicking competition heats up
Though one has to remember not to overreact to training camp reports, the Bears’ kicking competition could develop into more of a good problem than a bad problem if the past few practices are any indication.
Eddy Pineiro has been fantastic in camp thus far, but today was Elliott Fry’s turn to show his stuff. The former AAF kicker nailed a 54-yard field goal during warmups before going 9-for-10 on the day. His lone miss came from about 47 yards out, but he redeemed himself with makes from 52 and 57 yards out, as well as two made kicks from 62 yards.
Even though the competition started off with nearly every kicker putting forth a disappointing outing in the infamous kicker gauntlet a few months ago, both Fry and Pineiro have been fantastic in camp thus far. The preseason will serve as a chance for either one of them to truly pull ahead, but there doesn’t seem to be a clear-cut frontrunner yet.
Good day for youngsters
In addition to Montgomery, there were multiple other young Bears who flashed during camp today.
Joel Iyiegbuniwe showed up to camp looking incredibly jacked, and his strength was apparent in drills today. One particular play came in a blitzing drill, when he knocked Montgomery down to the ground with a nasty swim move and a powerful swipe. He held his own in coverage drills, as well, showing off some of the athleticism that got him drafted in the fourth round last year. This preseason could be his chance to prove himself as a worthy replacement for Danny Trevathan if the veteran becomes too expensive for the Bears to re-sign.
Chicago brought in a bevy of undrafted tight ends this offseason, and two of them in particular had some flashes today. Dax Raymond, one of the team’s most hyped undrafted rookies, made a handful of impressive grabs in drills, including a leaping touchdown catch in red zone drills. Ian Bunting, a less-heralded prospect, also had a couple of solid catches. One in particular saw him run through multiple defenders for a long gain after a short pass from Chase Daniel.
Multiple other young players took some strides today. Duke Shelley had a quiet outing, but he took a handful of second-team reps as both an outside and a slot cornerback. Kevin Toliver also saw snaps with the second team, and he had an impressive pass breakup in one-on-one drills. Tanner Gentry also put together a decent day, highlighted by his creating separation on a slant to pick up a first down against Prince Amukamara in scrimmage.
The Bears kick off their preseason in just under a week, and anticipation is already growing for the return of Bears football, regardless of which players are on the field. Today’s practice served as an encouraging preview of how these next few weeks could shape up.