1 burning question at every offensive position following Bears offseason program

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The Chicago Bears recently wrapped their offseason program, and the team now gets a deserving break before things kick back into gear.

While the conclusion of mandatory minicamp brought some clarity, it also raised even more questions ahead of training camp next month.

That’s especially true on offense, which is undergoing plenty of changes this offseason, including learning a new scheme under Luke Getsy. But there are still some huge question marks heading into camp.

Here’s one burning question for every offensive position following the Bears’ offseason program.

Quarterback: Will Justin Fields take a step forward in 2022?

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

No one’s expecting this Bears team to be contenders in 2022. But the season will still be considered a success if quarterback Justin Fields takes a step forward in his development. While there’s been plenty of criticism about how Chicago has handled Fields this offseason — the lack of proven weapons outside of Darnell Mooney and questions on the offensive line — there’s still reason to believe he will improve.

Amid the criticism, the one thing that’s going ignored is the Bears are implementing a new offense under Luke Getsy, one that’s centered around Fields’ skillset. Getsy understands the importance of building the offense around the quarterback first, where we’re expected to get plenty of Fields on the move and stretching the field with his deep ball. While Fields might not be primed for his breakout season just yet, the pieces are in place for him to take a step forward in his development.

Running back: Will David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert share the load?

AP Photo/David Banks

Running back is one of the most reliable positions on the entire roster, which has everything to do with the 1-2 punch of David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert. Chicago’s offense is expected to be a run-heavy scheme, where both Montgomery and Herbert will get their share of reps. When looking at what this duo of Montgomery and Herbert could become, look no further than Getsy’s previous stop in Green Bay with Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon.

While Montgomery has been the primary running back since his arrival, Getsy’s offense promises to utilize both Montgomery and Herbert as a way to open up the offense and take pressure off Fields. Herbert, a former sixth-round pick, impressed as a rookie in relief of Montgomery for four games. Now in Getsy’s offense, we should see him featured even more alongside Montgomery, which could make this Bears run game a potent one.

Wide receiver: Outside of Darnell Mooney, who will step up in an unproven receiving corp?

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

The Bears’ wide receiver position has been the subject of immense scrutiny this offseason, which has everything to do with the unproven names in the group. Outside of Darnell Mooney, there are questions surrounding the rest of Fields’ supporting cast. Mooney is coming off a 1,000-yard season, where he emerged as the top target. But now he’ll be without Allen Robinson to draw attention, so the pressure is on Mooney to produce as the WR1. So the question becomes: Who will step up?

While unproven, there are some candidates to flash this season in veteran Byron Pringle and third-round rookie Velus Jones Jr. Pringle is coming off a career season with the Chiefs, where he was buried on the depth chart behind some big names. He’s a speedy option who has the opportunity to finally have a breakout season. Then there’s Jones, who’s already impressed his teammates and coaches during the offseason program. Jones’ speed and run-after-the-catch ability have people singing his praises and Mooney declaring Jones can become a legitimate playmaker in this offense.

Tight end: Will Cole Kmet finally have a breakout year?

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Tight end Cole Kmet is entering a pivotal third season where he’s looking to finally have that breakout season. Following the departure of Jimmy Graham in free agency, Kmet finds himself as the top tight end on the team, and he’s been getting plenty of reps in with his quarterback, Justin Fields. There’s been plenty of debate about whether or not Kmet is the answer at tight end, and this season is shaping up to give us an answer.

Kmet is coming off an encouraging season where his production nearly doubled from his rookie year — with 60 receptions for 612 yards but no touchdowns. He ranked eighth in targets (93) among tight ends last season. It’s hard to truly evaluate Kmet coming out of a Matt Nagy offense, but Getsy’s scheme promises to incorporate not only Kmet’s blocking skills but feature him more in the passing game. Given Fields is working with a slew of new weapons, Kmet is someone who could become an outlet for Fields.

Offensive line: What will the starting offensive line look like?

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Perhaps the biggest concern ahead of training camp is that the Bears haven’t finalized their starting offensive line. They’ve been experimenting with different combinations throughout the offseason, which has included giving fifth-round rookie Braxton Jones a look at left tackle with the starters. Former second-round pick Teven Jenkins has been working with the second-team offense over the final week of OTAs and mandatory minicamp, although it’s still too early to worry about him losing his starting job.

At this point, it feels like Cody Whitehair and Lucas Patrick are the only locks at their respective left guard and center positions. Larry Borom has played both left tackle and right tackle during the offseason, and there’s still a glaring hole at right guard. Matt Eberflus wants the offensive line figured out “the sooner the better,” but the real evaluation comes when the pads come on.

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