List of Chicago Bears up-and-downers after the Titans preseason game appeared in the original NBC Sports Chicago
Getting in and doing well in camp drills is important for any player fighting for a job, or fighting to move up the depth chart. Performing well in pre-season games is essential. Saturday was the first time bear Coaches were able to see how their players performed not only against a real-life opponent, but how they fared at direct tackle success. As would be expected in any pre-season game, there were a lot of fouls and some sloppy reps. There were some encouraging performances as well. These are the guys who helped themselves the most in the season opener, and who will want to get better next week against the Colts.
Herbert and D’Onta Foreman entered camp ready for a legitimate competition to earn the bulk of the running reps this season. Herbert got the first crack with the start on Saturday and made the most of his opportunity. Herbert made a point to focus on protecting his pass during the suspension and got to show it on the first snap of the game. He broke up a rushing pass on a play, giving Justin Fields enough time to hit Khary Blassingame into the flat to complete it. On the team’s second series, Herbert came back with the starters and caught a screen pass for a 52-yard score. It looked as if Herbert was going to get shy of the goal line, but he slashed his way through two would-be tacklers, then fumbled a third for a touchdown. Herbert’s first great show.
Baskerville is an undrafted rookie agent from LSU who slowly got more reps as the summer went on, especially after Tremaine Edmunds was sidelined with an injury. On Saturday, Baskerville was the Bears’ second quarterback, behind Jack Sanborn. Baskerville didn’t come up with any splash plays, per se, but he did have his hand on several stops and was credited with a sack when Will Levis fumbled right in front of him. Baskerville also had a few strong reps when asked to get into pass coverage. This kind of reliable play is important from Mike LB.
Jones was a surprise performer as a rookie free agent last season, but his stock with the team plummeted when Ryan Bowles drafted both Tyrique Stevenson and Terell Smith this year. But Jones made a great case to stay on the 53-man roster with outstanding special teams playing on Saturdays. Jones made the tackle on the Bears’ first two plays of the game, then was the first man to kick the ball on a kick that eventually bounced harmlessly out of bounds. These are the kinds of plays that will ensure he wins a job out of camp, no matter what he puts up on defense.
One of the biggest upsets in the Bears’ initial depth chart was seeing Gibson buried at the bottom of the defensive end position stack. He occasionally appeared throughout training camp, but found himself listed behind undrafted rookie rookie D’Anthony Jones. That tyranny must have fueled a fire under Gibson, as he routinely terrorized the Giants’ offensive line on Saturdays. Gibson finished the day with five tackles, including an impressive stop to chase the ball carrier from the backside of the play. He also had a sack, three QB hits, and several other pressures.
Not to be outdone, Lewis seemed to make his own big play every single time right after every Gibson moment. Lewis didn’t have many tackles, but he did put his stat sheet in the big ticket columns. He finished his day with two bags, including a bag of clothes.
It’s no secret what Jones Jr. needed to improve this year to turn the page from last year’s debacle: ball security, ball security, ball security. Things seemed to have improved at camp, but on Saturday the same problems Jones Jr. had with returning kicks emerged again, with Jones Jr cracking returning kicks, both times letting the ball hit the ground before being served. He failed the second pot, and the Titans recovered. This is a recurring problem for Jones Jr., so one would imagine he’d get a short leash when the boat returns this year. And since the wide receiver room is more crowded this year than it was last year, Jones Jr. will have to do better on special teams this year.
To be clear, Walker isn’t in danger of losing the backup QB job at this point, but his summer struggles continued Saturday. Walker and the second-team offense got off to an ugly start with an interception that didn’t have the Bears wide receiver in sight. It was so bad that it’s unclear if the selection was a miscommunication with the wide receiver or just a terrible throw. From there things didn’t get much better. Walker was inaccurate on some short play passes, a punt was hit on the goal line, and he finished the day with a paltry 4-8 at his own 19-yard line.