Bears risers and fallers following final preseason game originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The Bears starters saved their best for last, winning the first half of their final preseason game 21-6. Many Browns starters didn’t play, including star edge rushers Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney, starting corners Denzel Ward and Greg Newsome, their two-headed rushing attack of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, and No. 1 wide receiver Amari Cooper, so it wasn’t quite the dress rehearsal that Matt Eberflus envisioned when he treated the week leading up to this final tune up as a real game week. But the Bears can’t control who they line up against, they can only control how they execute. Here are the players who did the most with their opportunity on Saturday, and the players who may slide as the Bears get closer to locking in their final roster.
ENTIRE BEARS OFFENSE
The offensive line held up. Pass catchers got open. David Montgomery appeared to be in midseason form. Justin Fields was sharp. Big plays were made.
After scoring only three points in their first two games combined, the offense finally came together for three impressive touchdown drives. The first drive was arguably the most impressive, as the team shook off a holding penalty to go seven plays and 70 yards for the score. It was equally important to see Fields operate nearly perfectly, and to see Getsy call playsー like numerous play action bootlegsー to put him in the best position to succeed. This was exactly what the offense needed to carry momentum into the regular season.
DANTE PETTIS - WIDE RECEIVER
The entire offense showed out in the first half, but Pettis deserves some spotlight to himself. With Byron Pringle, Velus Jones and Tajae Sharpe out with injuries, Pettis slid into the No. 3 wide receiver spot. He ended up as Justin Fields’ favorite for the night, with four targets. Pettis ran a scramble drill well, and converted a first down on a busted 3rd-and-8 play, and put a great move on a would-be defender for an easy TD.
All of that is great, but Pettis may have locked up a roster spot with his special teams prowess. Punt returns have looked shaky for the Bears at times, but Pettis handled the job well on Saturday.
KINDLE VILDOR - CORNERBACK
With Tavon Young and Thomas Graham unable to get back onto the practice field, the Bears are left with Kindle Vildor to start at cornerback. There were reasonable questions whether he could rebound after a tough 2021 season, but on Saturday Vildor showed he may be well suited to play in Matt Eberflus’ and Alan Williams’ defense. Vildor made stops in the run game, and shut down a checkdown for a three-yard loss. He wasn’t picked on in pass coverage like he had been in the past, and came up with a big PBU in the endzone near the end of the half. Sure, Eberflus would’ve liked an interception on the play, but given Vildor’s struggles last year, it was a confidence-building performance.
TAJAE SHARPE - WIDE RECEIVER
After the Bears’ first preseason game, Sharpe looked like a lock to win a job out of camp. He clearly had chemistry brewing with Justin Fields and came through with catches when many others were hurt. Then Sharpe suffered an injury of his own, and Pettis stepped in as the new “surprising” wide receiver. Sharpe could still make the 53-man roster as the sixth receiver, depending on what the Bears decide to do with N’Keal Harry, and depending on how quickly he can return to practice. How much playing time he’ll get moving forward is another question though.
SHON COLEMAN - OFFENSIVE TACKLE
When Braxton Jones settled in as the starting left tackle, and Larry Borom beat out Riley Reiff on the right side, Coleman found himself playing valuable reps as the backup left tackle. Coleman has struggled to make a positive impact with his playing time, however, and Saturday was no different. Pass rushers continued to fly by him to pressure the quarterback. On one occasion, Coleman missed an assignment and allowed a free runner to sack Nathan Peterman when the Browns only rushed four. Coleman could now go from second-stringer to someone in danger of not making the final roster.
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