The Chicago Bears held their final training camp practice in Bourbonnais on Sunday, and as they decamp to Halas Hall, there are still a few burning questions that are facing the reigning NFC North champions.
Sure, it’s going to be tough to get answers to some of the questions, given that the team is clearly going to play things close to the vest in their remaining three preseason games (although we doubt that nearly every starter will be sitting out again when the team takes on New York next week), but there are still a few things we’ll likely get some clarity on over the remaining few weeks until the regular season gets underway in early September.
Who’s going to be the kicker opening night?
So far the advantage, at least in game situations, goes to Elliott Fry, who nailed a 43-yard field goal and an extra point in Thursday’s loss to the Carolina Panthers. Eddy Pineiro also hit a field goal, a short one of 23 yards, but he also missed a 48-yard kick during the contest.
The two kickers have been the center of attention throughout the Bears’ stay in Bourbonnais, and as the scene shifts to the much-quieter environs of Halas Hall, Matt Nagy and the team’s coaching staff will surely keep putting them through their paces.
We would expect an even split of kicking duties in remaining preseason games as the team prepares to make a final decision.
Will Trey Burton's injury shuffle up the Bears' tight end corps?
Burton was supposedly all systems go when training camp began, as the team didn’t put him on the physically unable to perform list after offseason sports hernia surgery, but he has been absent from numerous practices and didn’t appear in the team’s first game against the Panthers.
With his health in flux, there is a real opportunity for either Adam Shaheen or Ben Braunecker to make an impact on the squad and take over some of the workload in Nagy’s offense. Shaheen also missed the team’s first game due to injury, but is just getting back onto the practice field, so there’s at least a chance he could see the field soon in preseason action.
Will Anthony Miller's injury hurt the Bears' offense?
Miller suffered an ankle injury during practice in the final days at Bourbonnais, and the Bears have to be holding their breath as the talented second-year wide receiver works his way through injury rehab.
Nagy says that Miller is not in jeopardy of missing the team’s regular season opener against the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 5, but after shoulder issues robbed him of numerous regular season snaps last year, it would have been nice to get the receiver another full camp of working with Trubisky and the rest of the first-teamers.
With Miller out, look for other receivers, like Marvin Hall and Javon Wims, to get more work in preseason action, and perhaps to earn a roster spot along the way.
Will we actually see Khalil Mack in the preseason?
Clearly Khalil Mack doesn’t need no stinking preseason, as he proved last season, but Bears fans have to be curious about whether he’ll appear in either game against the Giants or the Colts.
The smart money says no, that the Bears will want to keep him as healthy as possible for the regular season, but Nagy doesn’t exactly adhere to conventional wisdom, so perhaps we’ll see Mack for a series or two before the preseason comes to an end (but we doubt it).
Speaking of linebackers, who could still win jobs?
The Bears need at least one other player at outside linebacker, with Mack, Leonard Floyd, and Aaron Lynch all locked into positions.
It would certainly appear that a player like Matt Betts could have a shot at winning the job, but he will have some stiff competition from Kylie Fitts and Isaiah Irving. The Bears could conceivably keep five outside linebackers, meaning that Betts or a player like Chuck Harris could try to jump onto the 53-man roster.