The Bears begin exhibition play this weekend with a Saturday contest at Soldier Field against the Chiefs. Head coach Matt Eberflus has already said that his starters will get plenty of action. We now know who those starters will be. On Tuesday night, the team released its updated depth chart.
Bears (unofficial) depth chart for this weekend's preseason opener pic.twitter.com/7MwAtTDs1p
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Considering Chicago’s current injury situation, there are no real shockers. Equanimeous St. Brown, who has had a very strong camp, is listed as WR2 opposite Darnell Mooney. He’s moved ahead of the injured Byron Pringle. Of course, Justin Fields is the quarterback. There has been no word if Velus Jones Jr. will play and he is sidelined today, as is TE Cole Kmet. Expect Tajae Sharpe to get a lot of reps against Kansas City, and if Kmet can’t go, Ryan Griffin will step up. Don’t be surprised if Rysen John gets significant playing time. The staff loves his hustle and productivity.
Look ma, one hand ✋ pic.twitter.com/M6HTAWrpxJ
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If you’re looking for mild but expected surprises, look to the offensive line. Rookie Braxton Jones is the starting left tackle, but he’s backed up by Larry Borom, who has mostly practiced on the right side. Riley Reiff will start at right tackle, and he’s followed in the rotation by Teven Jenkins. Sam Mustipher will start at center Saturday because Lucas Patrick is still out. Chicago’s starting guards are Cody Whitehair and Michael Schofield. Doug Kramer will back up Mustipher and should get plenty of work. Rookies Ja’Tyre Carter and Zachary Thomas will get their share of snaps.
As far as running backs are concerned, the pecking order is David Montgomery followed by Khalil Herbert. Rookie Trestan Ebner is the third-string back and he’ll see plenty of action in Saturday’s game. He’s an elite receiver out of the backfield and I’d like to see him working with Fields, but I doubt he’ll get any time with the first unit. Eberflus like to mix things up, so I suppose the possibility exists, even if it’s relatively small.
On defense, the front seven is pretty locked in with the exception of Roquan Smith, who is still sitting out. Robert Quinn and Trevis Gipson are the starting defensive ends, and Justin Jones and Angelo Blackson will man the inside. Jones has had a fantastic camp. The starting linebackers are Nicholas Morrow and Joe Thomas, and Matthew Adams will sub for Smith. Expect Jack Sanborn to replace Morrow once the starters are removed, and keep an eye on him. The UDFA has a genuine chance to play himself into a spot on Chicago’s 53-man roster.
Kyler Gordon is not practicing today though the Bears have yet to release any injury information. Teams are not required to file an injury report for preseason games. That means Chicago will run with Kindle Vildor and Jaylon Johnson as the starting cornerbacks, and the pair struggled quite a bit last season. Jaquan Brisker and Eddie Jackson are listed as the current starting safeties.
Backup quarterback Trevor Siemian is also the second-string punter behind rookie Trenton Gill. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that for any reason. Cairo Santos will handle the placekicking duties, and Herbert will return kickoffs. Dazz Newsome is listed as Chicago’s No. 1 punt returner. Don’t look for Kevin Shaa in the return game, he just has no experience, which may hurt his chances of making the team.
Former head coach Matt Nagy is now an assistant with the Chiefs, so he will be making his not-so-triumphant return to Soldier Field. Of course, first-year Bears GM Ryan Poles worked in Kansas City’s front office prior to this year. The story of the game will be Fields, and he’ll inevitably be compared to Patrick Mahomes. The announcers will probably address the Smith situation at great length.