While the Chicago Bears didn’t play their starters for their “dress rehearsal” preseason game against the Chiefs, many players came out and gave excellent performances that either helped them move up the depth chart or solidified their spot on the 53-man roster. On the flip side, a few players underperformed in what could have been their last opportunity to win over the coaching staff.
Here are the winners and losers of Chicago’s preseason bout against the Chiefs.
After an okay camp and an overall mediocre preseason (5.6 yards per pass attempt, 3 touchdowns, 3 interceptions prior to the Chiefs game), Daniel came to play against Kansas City. He kept the offense in near perfect rhythm throughout the first half, and only had three incompletions all afternoon. Chicago’s offense scored on four of its five drives (not counting the kneel down to end the half) with Daniel under center.
Daniel’s spot on the team was never really in doubt, but he proved to the coaches and fans that there’s a reason he’s regarded as one of the best backups in the league.
Where to start with the seventh rounder’s banner day? His outrageous stat line, or his leaping, toe-tap snag in the end zone?
Both garnered him much attention and praise throughout the weekend, but more importantly, they likely solidified Wims’ spot on the 53-man roster.
From crossing routes with lots of yards after the catch to jump balls in the corner of the end zone, Wims has proven himself as a versatile receiver who could become the steal of the draft if he continues this progression.
Many felt it was a foregone conclusion that Daniel Brown had the inside track at the fourth tight end spot on Chicago’s roster. However, due to injuries and subpar play, the door was left open for Braunecker on Saturday.
His run blocking was solid as many who have watched him the past few seasons have come to expect. However, where he turned some heads was in the receiving game. Two catches for 31 yards is by no means a head-turning performance, but he showed remarkable progress as a receiver on Saturday. He looked smooth and fluid in and out of his breaks which hasn’t always been the case for the Harvard product.
It’s no guarantee that the Bears will keep four tight ends on the roster, but Braunecker made a very good case on Saturday to be that player.
The entire offensive line:
It’s hard to single out one particular player as the whole unit did a great job in pass pro (no sacks allowed on the day) and with opening up running lanes (even if the running backs didn’t feel inclined to run through them).
After some suspect days in training camp, the Bears proved they have excellent depth on the interior of the offensive line with Rashaad Coward quickly progressing at tackle.
However, Bradley’s Sowell’s injury late in the game showed that there is little to back up Charles Leno Jr at left tackle in case of injury. Outside of Leno Jr and Sowell, there are no Bears that have any NFL experience at left tackle.
Injury concern aside, the whole offensive line had a great day which spearheaded an excellent offensive performance for Chicago.
The disappearing act of Daniel Brown continued on Saturday. After working his way into the Bears offense as a pass-catching tight end with above-average route running, Brown has looked stiff in his breaks, and his hands have been far less reliable.
Brown’s one catch for six yards on Saturday did little to show Nagy and company that he deserves a roster spot on the team. For a team that targets the tight ends so often, this performance should be alarming to Bears fans.
His battle with Braunecker may continue into next week, but with blocking and special teams utility already in Braunecker’s favor, it will likely take a monster performance for Brown to reclaim his spot on the roster.
Taquan Mizzell and Ryan Nall:
With Benny Cunningham struggling to start camp and preseason, the door seemed open for someone to snag the third running back spot. The two main candidates, Mizzell and Nall, both had forgettable performances in what was likely their last chance to make a strong impression on the coaching staff.
Both failed to read blocks and didn’t exercise the necessary patience to be an NFL running back. This was surprising to see considering the solid performance by Chicago’s offensive line all afternoon.
Additionally, Mizzell failed to make an impression as a return man against the Chiefs. This was a place where he could directly prove to be a superior player over Benny Cunningham, but he failed to do so.
Despite the preseason hype, both Nall and Mizzell likely sealed their fate with forgettable outings on Saturday.
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Jonathan Bullard and Roy Robertson-Harris:
Considering how the second defensive end spot is the only starting job truly up for grabs, it’s been upsetting to see neither Bullard or Robertson-Harris make any strong claim for the spot.
Both players continued their average preseason with few impact plays against the Chiefs. Robertson-Harris edged Bullard on the stat sheet two tackles to one, but neither showed anything remarkable.
While it’s not fair to expect defensive ends in a 3-4 scheme to rack up tackles, they are supposed to cause chaos by filling gaps in the run game and draw attention away from the linebackers in the passing game. Currently, neither Bullard nor Robertson-Harris have accomplished that feat on a consistent basis, and Saturday’s contest continued to prove that as the case.
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