Bears 2022 training camp preview: Edge rushers

Chicago Bears training camp is less than a month away, so it’s time to start looking ahead at the roster the team is bringing to Lake Forest.

When camp officially begins later this month, the EDGE position is one that will look much different than last year. Khalil Mack was dealt earlier in the offseason and their other star veteran Robert Quinn will likely be absent as he’s reportedly looking to be traded as well.

That leaves young players Trevis Gipson and Al-Quadin Muhammad as the likely starters, with others such as rookie Dominique Robinson potentially making it into the rotation. Let’s take a look at the pass rushers and what we can expect going into camp.

Trevis Gipson

Chicago Bears’ Trevis Gipson reacts to a play against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

Whether Quinn is around or not, Gipson is poised for a huge 2022 season after he shined last year. The former Tulsa standout notched seven sacks and a staggering five forced fumbles in 2021, receiving significantly more playing time in part due to a season-ending injury to Mack.

Had it not been for Quinn’s record-breaking season, Gipson would have received even more praise for his accomplishments in just his second season in the league. But now projected as a starter, he’s a popular breakout candidate and should be on the radar of offensive lines across the league.

Robert Quinn

Chicago Bears outside linebacker Robert Quinn plays during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

What a long, strange journey it’s been for Quinn in a Bears uniform. He signed a large contract in free agency in 2020, only to be labeled as one of the biggest busts in Bears history after one season. Then, he turns things around in 2021 by breaking Hall of Fame defensive end Richard Dent’s single-season sack record with 18.5 in one of the most unexpected comeback seasons of all time. Now, he’s reportedly on the outs after missing mini camp with an unexcused absence and looking to be dealt with the Bears looking at a rebuild in 2022.

At this point in time, it would be a surprise if Quinn arrived at the start of training camp. His desire to be moved seems clear to fans, but one has to wonder if the Bears wind up dealing him or keeping him on the roster through the start of the regular season. Either way, it’s difficult to count on Quinn to be a contributor this year, even though he’s proven he still has plenty left in the tank at 32-years old.

Al-Quadin Muhammad

Indianapolis Colts defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad (97) celebrates a fumble recovery by the team during the second half of the game Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
Indianapolis Colts Visit The San Francisco 49ers For Nfl Week 7 At Levi S Stadium In Santa Clara Calif Sunday Oct 24 2021

Al-Quadin Muhammad is a new, yet familiar face on the Bears defense. Muhammad signed as a free agent earlier this spring, following head coach Matt Eberflus over from the Indianapolis Colts to continue playing in his defense. The veteran defensive end had a career year in 2021, posting six sacks and 48 tackles while starting all 17 games for the Colts.

At worst, Muhammad will be a rotational player at the defensive end position but he’s a projected starter entering camp and will be heavily relied upon, especially if Quinn is away from the team. He’ll help be a trend setter on defense under both Eberflus and defensive coordinator Alan Williams.

Dominique Robinson

May 7, 2022; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive end Dominique Robinson speaks at a news conference during team’s rookie minicamp at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears drafted one defensive end in the 2022 NFL Draft, adding Miami (Ohio) EDGE Dominique Robinson in the fifth round. Robinson entered college as a wide receiver, but transitioned to the other side of the ball halfway through his collegiate career and showed a knack for the position. He totaled 4.5 sacks in his final season with 28 total tackles, including 8.5 for loss.

Robinson has a huge opportunity in front of him. With Quinn likely out, he’ll see extensive playing time both in practices and in preseason games. He’s more of a raw prospect, but one that could see himself playing meaningful snaps in the regular season.

Sam Kamara

(AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)

Sam Kamara came to the Bears last season as an undrafted free agent. He stood out enough in the preseason to warrant a spot on the practice squad, but was called up to the active roster for a number of weeks. Kamara played in eight games, totaling 10 tackles, including one for a loss, and had one pass defensed. Now heading into 2022 with a new regime in place, he’s someone firmly on the bubble who might have the edge thanks to his experience last year.

Charles Snowden

Aug 14, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears linebacker Charles Snowden (49) celebrates after sacking Miami Dolphins quarterback Reid Sinnett (not pictured) during the third quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, Charles Snowden was considered one of the gems that went undrafted following the 2021 NFL Draft. After lighting it up at Virginia, he signed with the Bears and played sparingly, appearing in just two games and playing a handful of snaps. Snowden didn’t record a statistic and is considered a longshot to make the team this summer. He’ll get his shot to show Eberflus what he can do as a defensive end, but he likely would be better suited as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.

Carson Taylor

Jun 8, 2022; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive end Carson Taylor (59) warms up during organized team activities at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of undrafted free agents, the Bears signed just one rookie after the 2022 NFL Draft and that’s Carson Taylor out of Northern Arizona University. Taylor had 30 total tackles, including nine for a loss and notched six sacks in his final season with the Lumberjacks. He’s not projected to make the final roster at this point, but with just Kamara and Snowden standing in his way, he has a shot to surprise with a strong camp.

Big question: Will Robert Quinn remain with the Bears?

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – JANUARY 02: Robert Quinn #94 of the Chicago Bears interviews after defeating the New York Giants 29-3 at Soldier Field on January 02, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

Asking if Quinn will remain with the Bears isn’t just a big question for this position group, it’s one of the biggest questions for the team, period. Quinn not only had a record-breaking season, but he’s someone who has earned the respect of his teammates. Earlier in the offseason, he was voted as the team’s veteran recipient of the Brian Piccolo Award, an honor that is voted on by teammates for players who “best exemplify the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication, and sense of humor of Brian Piccolo.” Quinn is clearly liked in the locker room and his loss would go further than just the production we see on the field.

The Bears’ plans for Quinn are still unknown, however. Eberflus was visibly agitated that his veteran pass rusher missed minicamp and if general manager Ryan Poles had any intention of dealing him, it likely would have happened by the draft. There’s a good chance Quinn is still on the roster come week one, but he very well may be away from the team for the entire time. His status will be a major storyline when camp opens.