Bears risers and fallers following 2nd preseason game originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Even though the Bears starters hardly played in Thursday night’s preseason game, it was still an important night for Matt Eberflus, Ryan Poles, and plenty of players trying to earn jobs and roles with the team. For some, it was a step in the right direction to make the 53-man roster. Others will need to get back to practice to correct some mistakes. Here are Thursday’s biggest risers and fallers.
COLE KMET - TIGHT END
It’s no secret that the Bears want to get Kmet more involved in the offense than he has been over the past two seasons. The passing game that extends from the wide zone running scheme can favor tight ends. The question was, could Kmet execute? In just half of a drive’s work, Kmet showed he could excel if given the opportunity to be a focal point in the offense. It started with a TE screen on the first play of the game that went for 12 yards. The play has worked well in practice, and the team was able to reproduce the success in real game action. Five plays later, Kmet ran a slant off play action, and found himself wide open for a 19-yard gain. After that his day was done. Two catches on three targets for 31 yards. Those 31 yards accounted for over 65% of the team’s production on their opening FG drive, too.
TREVON COLEY - DEFENSIVE TACKLE
The Bears have several reliable options in the interior defensive line this season. Justin Jones, Angelo Blackson and Mario Edwards Jr. (even though he’s listed as a defensive end) have all shown the disruption Matt Eberflus looks for in his defensive tackles, so Coley, a six-year veteran, isn’t fighting for a starting job, as much as he is for a job, period. On Thursday he continued to add his name to the mix of disruptive tackles with a big sack on a 3rd-and-15 play, and the way in which he did it will be sure to catch his coaches’ attention. Coley was initially, taken to the ground, and seemingly out of the play, but he got back up, kept going, and eventually notched the sack. H.I.T.S. at its finest. Coley now has three sacks over the two preseason games, and is making a strong case to survive cut down day as a reliable depth piece on defense.
ELIJAH HICKS - SAFETY
With Jaquan Brisker and Eddie Jackson locked into the secondary, Hicks is another guy who’s fighting for a spot on the roster more than a spot in the starting lineup. On Thursday, Hicks made big plays on both defense and special teams, which is incredibly important for guys towards the back end of the roster. Playing safety, Hicks did his job as the safety valve of the defense, making a few open field tackles when he was the last line of defense. He came up with one special teams tackle too. Hicks came up with arguably the biggest play of the game, too, recovering a muffed puntー after two of his teammates had already whiffed on the recoveryー to score a touchdown in the third phase.
DAZZ NEWSOME - WIDE RECEIVER
Newsome had a rough start in his first preseason game, with a muffed punt and a dropped ball. He shook that off to score a touchdown, and reel off an effective end-around. Newsome had the opportunity to further distance himself from those early mistakes on Thursday, but he made some more mental mistakes instead. Newsome dropped his first target on what should’ve been an easy short completion. Then he put himself in position to come up with a big special teams play on Seattle’s muffed punt, but he fell on Davontae Harris, not the ball, which left Elijah Hicks to come up with the glory. Just like Week 1, Newsome shook off those early struggles to make a nice 14-yard catch and a good special teams tackle at the end of the game, but it’s fair to wonder whether it may be too little too late for a regime that didn’t draft him. Newsome technically muffed another punt, but it wasn’t entirely his fault, since De’Montre Tuggle ran into him just before the catch, so that’s not really a minus for him here.
KYLER GORDON - CORNERBACK
It may be unfair to call Gordon a “faller” since his starting slot corner job is essentially secured with both Tavon Young and Thomas Graham Jr. nursing injuries. But Gordon’s preseason debut certainly did not go as well as he would’ve hoped. The play that drew the most attention was Gordon getting juked, then whiffing on an open-field tackle on Travis Homer. Slot corners are expected to help a lot in run defense, so that missed tackle is especially notable. Then, on a 4th-and-2 play, Gordon was burned on a slant route for a 12-yard gain. There was a penalty on the Seahawks’ offensive line on the play however, so he got bailed out. Gordon got close to making two splash plays, coming up inches short on a sack, and nearly coming up with a turnover, too. But close wasn’t enough for Gordon to show up on the stat sheet. He finished his day without a single tackle or pass defended.