When the players arrive at the July 28 training camp at Halas Hall, the dynamic has changed.
All low-season assumptions and speculations end when competition begins on the field and the depth board is frequently altered. Players who figured as depth make moves and are suddenly in place to start.
The Bears have multiple players who have been discounted or buried in the alleged offseason unofficial depth charts. These are the fans, the fantasy players, the media and anyone who projects anything.
Anticipate the competition to create surprises with the Bears, and here are five ranked players so they have the best chance of emerging in a starting role at the start of the day.
1. Deon Bush
He gave the winning touchdown to Jimmy Graham against the Packers in the first game of the season and has been a backup for four seasons, and the acquisition of Tashaun Gipson made everyone assume that the job was former Houston security.
Bush was generally not a bad replacement when he had to leave insurance or when he played more early in his career.
In 2018, he had to replace Eddie Jackson in the last two games of the regular season and in the playoff game because of Jackson’s injury while returning his interception in Aaron Rodgers’ division.
The Bush Pro Football Focus rating for 2018 was an excellent 76.6 for 152 defensive snapshots. Last year he was even better at 81.1 for just 58 snapshots, including the TD he gave to Graham.
As a rookie in 2016, Bush struggled in six starts and 11 games played. Rookie seasons can go that way.
Given that Gipson will be 30 when the season begins, his unfamiliarity with the Bears’ defensive system and where he left the Texans willing to eat $ 3.75 million of dead money to get rid of him is no guarantee that Gipson begin. Gipson is also coming out of a transverse process fracture in his spine and a broken wrist, too.
Gipson missed 13.6% of his tackling attempts last year, which was higher than the year before. Eddie Jackson lost 15.5%. They are not good numbers either. Although his game was limited, Bush did not lose tackles in 2018 or 2019.
“To be honest, Deon has done very well for the past few years,” said Bears safety coach Sean Desai. “And he knows, and Gipson knows, and Eddie knows, and everyone in that security room knows that this is a competition. We all go to training camp with that mindset.”
2. Artie Burns
Jaylon Johnson has been talked to the finish, but Artie Burns has the most initial NFL experience of anyone vying for the starting right cornerback position.
It has the kind of backstory that suggests it’s a type of recovery. His father is in prison, his mother died, and he was tasked with making sure his brothers spent the past few years correctly. It was a difficult situation and may have affected his game.
Burns started over half of the games as a rookie and all games in 2017. When he started all games in 2017, he earned a Pro Football Focus rating of 70.5. In their scoring system, this is very robust. In comparison, Kyle Fuller was just 62.5 years old last year and made the Pro Bowl.
A fresh start could offer Burns what he needs to take advantage of the gap between when Johnson can learn enough about the defense and how the NFL works to take the lead role.
Burns also has to deal with Kevin Toliver II. Allowing 68.8% completion when he signed up last year and a passer rating of 122.4 has put Toliver in a position to try something simply to keep his place on the list.
Burns is now working with a former Steelers defensive defender, Bears defensive back coach Deshea Townsend, who played for former Burns Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.
“I spoke to Mike T about it,” Townsend said. “Just looking at the tape and just knowing the story of the guy who came out of Miami when he came out, you saw a long guy who could run, put his nose in there in the running game. He’s physical, he’s capable of man-to-man, and that’s all we can look for.
“And then being able to talk to the guys over there to find out what was wrong, but those things are in the past. He’s here now and it’s my job to see if I can improve him to see if he can help us win.”
And another advantage on Burns’ side? His longtime teammate and college friend is none other than Deon Bush, and having an ally never hurts.
3. Demetrius Harris
Expecting Cole Kmet to be a Day 1 starter is presumptuous. The closed ending is a place where players fight in Year 1, most of the time.
Harris hasn’t really started, but he’s been good enough with both Kansas City and Cleveland to be on the field for extended periods. He played more than half the losses last year in tight end and had six starts for the Browns. With Kansas City, it exceeded 47% and 45% of snapshots in 2016-17.
Until Kmet has sorted it out, the Bears need someone on Y’s tight end, while Jimmy Graham serves U’s tight end. Harris is the most likely answer, considering his five years on the Chiefs’ offense, including four while Coach Matt Nagy was with the Chiefs.
4. Mitchell Trubisky
The battle everyone will be talking about must be one-sided.
Trubisky has looked good to players at work off the field, but it’s always fine until the actual games begin. It is during the opposite race pressure that his feet begin to move and the passing mechanics break.
Trubisky has not shown that he can better read the defenses at the moment, and this is somewhat difficult to see until he faces a live career in a regular season game. Opposing defenses rarely throw the book at a preseason quarterback.
The point is, Trubisky has a decent chance to get through all of this because he has time working on his side. No offseason job for Nick Foles on offense will be a severe handicap in any way that cuts him off.
Starting camp on July 28 allows Foles just one month to show that he is better. The preseason endgame is irrelevant because no one is using headlines at the time, and the decision will be made before that.
5. Coward Rashaad
Germain Ifedi has been assumed to be the starter on the right guard from the time the Bears announced he had signed, but Rashaad Coward is actually the one who has this job until it is taken from him.
New offensive line coach Juan Castillo spoke to Ifedi in the media, but once the coaches enter the field and work with the players, they will know more.
Coward was pressured into a role he didn’t know about and ran into trouble last year. It is entirely possible that he will go a long way after 10 starts last year in his debut.
BearDigest @ BearsOnMaven