After a long summer of training camp practices, Saturday’s preseason finale marked the last time several Bears had the opportunity to impress their coaches and make a case to earn a roster spot before this Tuesday’s roster cut deadline. Others fought for additional roles on the team, or opportunities to climb the depth chart. Here are the guys who helped their causes, and
Head coach Matt Eberflus admitted the Bears didn’t create any backup quarterback competition, Bagent forced the competition with his play throughout the summer. Bagent’s day wasn’t perfect, but the good outweighed the bad. He first entered the game in the red zone, when Justin Fields exited mid-drive. Bagent appeared to have the Bears cooking with a pass to Cole Kmet near the five-yard line, but a penalty put the team behind the sticks and the offense fizzled. They ultimately settled for a field goal. After a three-and-out, Bagent manufactured a nine-play 42-yard touchdown drive that ended with him scampering into the endzone for a score. Most of Bagent’s success came with his legs, although he made a few sharp passes. He should’ve had a touchdown throw to go with his rushing TD, but Stephen Carlson dropped a dart in the endzone. One play later, Bagent threw an interception. A real roller coaster day for the undrafted free agent out of Shepard, but it looks like he has a legit chance to make the team.
Scott didn’t do much on offense, but with Velus Jones nursing an injury Scott was the man who received the bulk of the return man work on Saturday. The rookie’s first two attempts on kickoffs didn’t go great. He brought the ball out of the endzone both times, but only made it to the 21 on his first return, and to the 18 on his second. Third time was the charm for Scott. He showed good elusiveness to make it past the first wave of defenders, then turned on the jets as he turned upfield. Scott wound up with a 55-yard return to set the Bears offense up with great field position. Scott had up and down moments in the punt game, as well. On his first attempt, Scott wisely let the ball go over his head inside the 10-yard line for a touchback. On his second Scott had to track a towering punt, he called for a fair catch, but misjudged the ball slightly and needed to make an awkward grab. Most important was that he did make the catch and didn’t muff it.
At the beginning of the year it seemed a given that Pickens would spend most of the season working on the second defensive line unit as he developed. Pickens has noticeably improved when playing nose tackle and on Saturday showed off good strength as he pushed the pocket from over the center. Pickens finished the day with three tackles and a ball batted down at the line, but he should’ve had a TFL too. Pickens darted into the backfield and the Bills offensive line had to hold him to prevent a big play. The Bears happily accepted the 10 yard penalty, courtesy Pickens’ disruption. If he keeps that up, Pickens will make a case to come in and spell Andrew Billings whenever needed, or potentially overtake him as the starter before too long.
Gipson has flashed throughout the summer program and the preseason. Saturday was no different, as Gipson came away with a strip sack to give the offense the ball just outside the red zone. But it appears his Bears career may be destined to end soon. In the middle of the first quarter Jeremy Fowler reported that the Bears have given Gipson permission to seek a trade out of Chicago. Gipson has been buried on the defensive end depth chart behind players like Dominique Robinson and Terrell Lewis. And if Gipson is the odd man out, it makes sense that Ryan Poles would try to get a pick from a team lower down the waiver priority list rather than cutting him for nothing.
Peterman hasn’t been terrible this summer, and at times has even looked better than backup QB P.J. Walker. He didn’t even get a chance to play on Saturday to make a last ditch effort to earn a job. This comes down to math, though, not performance. At most the Bears would carry three quarterbacks on the roster this year, and if the Bears don’t believe they can sneak Bagent onto the practice squad he’s shown enough to be deserving of a 53-man roster spot. The Bears would likely keep Walker over Peterman as a veteran option simply because the Bears owe Walker over $2 million in guaranteed money and Peterman is only due $152k in guarantees. Might seem unfair, but the NFL isn’t always a fair business.
BEARS FIRST TEAM RUN BLOCKING
Last season the Bears were the best running team in the league. Justin Fields’ incredible off script playmaking ability of course played a big part of that, but the o-line’s execution of offensive coordinator Luke Gety’s wide zone scheme was key too. On Saturday, the Bears used a patchwork line that included Cody Whitehair playing left guard with his hand wrapped, Doug Kramer and Dieter Eiselen playing center, Ja’Tyre Carter at right guard and Larry Borom at right tackle. As a whole the unit couldn’t generate any push off the line and Bears running backs had no room to run. It took three drives for the Bears to get a designed run of over three yards. That put the offense in several third-and-long situations and led to two three-and-outs to start the game. They’ll need to both get healthy and clean that up before Week 1.
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