The Chicago Bears completed their first off-season training this month. Now players are heading off for a summer break, resting their mind and body for the hard work to come. Matt Eberflus promises a lot of racing. He will get these guys in top condition for the long season. The other part of his job will be figuring out what his starting line-up will be at the opening in September.
There are early indications of where some of these role-playing battles are going. Eberflus promised that his goal from the start was to bring the best possible players onto the pitch. Their background doesn’t matter, whether they are beginners or 10-year veterans. Prove that you deserve the work in practice and you will have it when the actual games start. Here’s the latest update on who the clubhouse leaders are as retirement approaches.
Leader of the battle of the Chicago Bears roster with the field approaching
This may be the most talked about situation on the entire roster. Everyone thought Borom and Jenkins would be the starting tackles this year after free will and the draft. Then the coaching staff decided to move Borom to the right tackle in the OTAs, relegating Jenkins to the attack of the second team. Novice Braxton Jones took over from the left tackle. The alignment remained the same for all veteran mini-fields. Jenkins needs to resume things in August if he is to avoid the bench.
- Chief: Sam Mustipher
- Hunters: Zachary Thomas and Ja’Tyre Carter
No one could have foreseen that this would be the case. Mustipher has never played anywhere other than college or NFL center. He is neither the biggest, the strongest, or the most mobile as offensive linemen do. Still, with Dakota Dozier’s injury, he’s almost the default favorite to start right. This underscores how skinny the Chicago Bears are at the position. Thomas and Carter have potential, but they will have to show more before the team feels comfortable giving them a real chance.
Face the nose
- Chief: Angelo Blackson
- Hunters: Khyiris Tonga and Mike Pennel
Justin Jones is the undisputed owner in the point of the three techniques. Nose equipment is another story. It’s hard to know who the definitive appetizer is right now. Blackson played well last season and has experience there. Still, his hold on the job is far from secure. Tonga has the body for that job, while Pennel may be the sleeping favorite to win it in the end given his years of playing experience. All he needs is to learn the new defense in time. Arriving before training camp was conducive to his cause.
Strong side linebacker
- Chief: Matthew Adams
- Hunters: Joe Thomas, Caleb Johnson and Jack Sanborn
Roquan Smith to the middle linebacker and Nicholas Morrow to the weak side linebacker look set in stone. The strong side is another story. Adams is the current leader, less for his overall skills and more for his experience playing in the defense of Eberflus. Most of his career has been spent as a reserve and special team ace. Usually, he would be a great candidate for overtaking someone else. The problem is, the other contenders aren’t exactly huge threats. Thomas is a worker. Johnson has little NFL experience and Sanborn is an unselected rookie. Maybe someone steps forward, or maybe the Chicago Bears make a belated addition to the mix.
Jaylon Johnson and Kyler Gordon appear to be the outside starting corners in defense. This makes the nickel angle the main battlefield in the secondary. Young came with the most experience in the group and was the most proven, thanks to his time in Baltimore. Still, at the end of the mini-fields, he ran with the second team defense while Graham was with the starters. This could be the biggest shock of any battle so far. The former sixth round pick has really stepped up his game and the coaching staff are taking notice. He’ll have to maintain that momentum once the pads light up.
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