5 bold predictions for Bears 2022 training camp

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We’re now just hours away from Chicago Bears training camp officially getting underway as all players are scheduled to report to Halas Hall beginning on Tuesday.

For a team that’s under new leadership from the top down, there’s a lot that can happen when practices begin later in the week. Position battles will ramp up, preseason darlings will emerge, key veterans will be in danger of being cut, and perhaps even a trade takes place. Here are our bold predictions ahead of Bears training camp 2022.

1. Teven Jenkins will be the starting right guard week one

Chicago Bears offensive line Teven Jenkins works on the field at the NFL football team’s practice facility in Lake Forest, Ill., Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Second-year tackle Teven Jenkins was one of the surprises during team mini camp last month, being relegated to the second string of the offensive line in favor of Larry Borom and rookie Braxton Jones. Jenkins was the Bears’ second-round pick in 2021 and seemed destined to play at left tackle this time last year. But injuries derailed that plan and a new regime might have other ideas for him this time around.

With the gaping hole at right guard still not filled, Jenkins is a prime candidate to slide over and regain a starting spot on the line. His play might lend itself more to a guard position and he’s already indicated he’s willing play wherever the coaching staff needs him. Right guard is clearly one of those needs and with Borom and Jones having the upper hand at the tackle positions, Jenkins will make the move and possibly thrive on the interior of the line.

2. Robert Quinn remains with the Bears into the regular season

Chicago Bears outside linebacker Robert Quinn (94) reacts during an NFL football against the Baltimore Ravens Sunday, Nov 21. 2021, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

There’s little doubt at this point that defensive end Robert Quinn is going to be a no-show when veterans report to training camp. The new single-season leader for sacks in franchise history has made his intentions known that he would like to be moved to a contender as the Bears are likely heading into a rebuild. But that’s not going to happen for Quinn just yet.

Quinn might stay away and accrue thousands of dollars of fines, but general manager Ryan Poles isn’t going to give in quickly to accommodate his star player. The Bears need production from the pass rush position and they already traded Khalil Mack earlier in the offseason. They don’t seem keen on moving on from another star veteran at a crucial position.

Quinn is going to remain on the team into the regular season, but will likely be moved prior to the trade deadline. Whether he plays any games for them in that period is another question.

3. Tavon Young wins the starting nickel cornerback position

Baltimore Ravens cornerback Tavon Young (25) in action during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Terrance Williams)

The nickel corner battle will be under the spotlight as the Bears look to shore up one of the weakest spots on their defense last season. Former Baltimore Raven Tavon Young, signed as a free agent this spring, will compete with second-year incumbent Thomas Graham Jr., who flashed last season in limited playing time.

Both players have their pros and cons at this point in their careers, but my bet is for Young to come away with the starting position. When he’s healthy, he can be one of the better nickel corners in the league and while he’s only signed to a one-year deal, he has a lot to prove and can step in right away to do the job. Graham is going to be an important player this year and will still see ample playing time on defense. But Young is my pick to become the starter when week one rolls around.

4. Neither Dante Pettis or Tajae Sharpe make the final roster

In front of Stantley Thomas-Oliver of Carolina, Dante Pettis of the Giants scores the Giants first TD after catching this Daniel Jones pass in the second half as the Carolina Panthers faced the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ on October 24, 2021.
The Carolina Panthers Faced The New York Giants At Metlife Stadium In East Rutherford Nj On October 24 2021

Earlier this summer, the Bears signed receivers Dante Pettis and Tajae Sharpe to one-year deals in the hopes at least one player stands out in camp to warrant a roster spot. Both receivers shined as rookies, with Pettis in 2018 with the San Francisco 49ers and Sharpe in 2016 with the Tennessee Titans. But they have failed to replicate that success and have bounced around over the last couple of seasons.

Pettis and Sharpe player different receiver positions than one another, but I don’t see them offering much of anything when camp gets underway. Neither has totaled more than 250 yards in two seasons, even in depleted offenses like the New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons. If the Bears still need more reinforcements at the receiving position this August, I see them trying out more players instead of relying on Pettis or Sharpe. They will both be cut when rosters are finalized.

5. Elijah Hicks becomes a camp favorite

California safety Elijah Hicks, left, breaks up a pass for UCLA wide receiver Chase Cota during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)

All eyes are on defensive backs Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker, the two second-round picks made by the Bears in the 2022 NFL Draft. But don’t sleep on their seventh-round rookie who has a chance to make a significant impact when he takes the field this summer.

Safety Elijah Hicks out of Cal, who I am officially nicknaming “The Flying Squirrel,” had a knack for flying in out of nowhere to break up or intercept a pass while he was in college. He possesses impressive instinct to track the ball down, while also playing with a physical style in the run game.

Fan-favorite players emerge every season at camp who are fighting for a roster spot. This year, Hicks will be one of them as he makes a few highlight plays in practice and preseason. Perhaps those plays help him earn a a place on the active roster when camp breaks. Either way, we’re sure to see some impressive highlights from the rookie.

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