The Chicago Bears are 1-2 in the preseason after traveling to Lucas Oil Stadium to face the Indianapolis Colts Saturday night, winning 27-17. The team’s second and third stringers provided a great deal of excitement in the Bears’ third preseason contest, which featured multiple defensive scores, some clarity concerning a few position battles, and a few questions that still need answers. Oh, and the Bears finally had an encouraging moment at the kicker position.
While the shocking and unexpected announcement that starting Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was choosing to retire from the NFL at 29 years of age will be the top headline coming out of Indianapolis, there were still several key takeaways for the Bears and their fans to toss around after the game:
Chuck Pagano’s return to Indianapolis Was a Success
Former Indianapolis head coach and new Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano made his first return to Lucas Oil Stadium, and he got a warm welcome from his old team when they played a tribute video dedicated to him:
Pagano’s new team also rose to the occasion, scoring touchdowns when the offense couldn’t. Linebacker James Vaughters continued his stellar preseason by netting his second strip of a quarterback in two weeks. Joel Iyiegbuniwe recovered, and ran the ball back for a touchdown, giving the Bears two defensive scores on the night after having none all preseason:
It was a nice return and reunion of sorts for Pagano, who waved to the crowd and placed his hand over his heart in response.
Kicker Eddy Piñeiro Took a Huge Step Forward
With the pressure on, kicker Eddy Piñeiro was perfect on the night, nailing field goals from 21 and 58 yards. The highlight was his 58-yarder, which had plenty of leg. Piñeiro was booting 58-yarders before the game, which may have been a good sign, but he needed to do it in an actual game, and when his time came, he came through.
He booted it right down the middle and appeared to be quite fired up afterward:
Whether this helps his confidence going forward is yet to be determined, but it was a very solid outing for Piñeiro–his most impressive one yet.
Ryan Nall Came to Ball
Nall is competing for a roster spot against Kerrith Whyte Jr., and they were relatively even going into Saturday night’s game. Nall may have separated himself with this nice 69-yard scamper on first and 30:
Nall finished the night with 73 yards, and he also caught a pass for 11 yards. What he does in the Bears’ fourth and final preseason game will be huge.
Where Was Riley Ridley?
The Bears rookie, who many expected to see, was virtually undetectable all evening. He was overthrown drastically by Chase Daniel in the first quarter on an uncatchable ball, and then he was never targeted again.
After missing valuable playing time early this preseason due to a hamstring injury, Ridley needs reps. He had three catches for 19 yards in his first preseason game, and an empty stat line in this one. Whether Matt Nagy plans to play him in the Bears fourth and final preseason game remains to be seen.
Alex Bars is Primed For a Roster Spot
Rookie Alex Bars has been getting a good deal of playing time, and in the second half, undrafted free agent Bars played left tackle. This seems significant for a few reasons, the first being Bars hadn’t spent any time at the position since 2016–when he and current Bears offensive line coach Harry Hiestand were both at Notre Dame.
Bars playing multiple positions on the line also suggests a level of trust — Hiestand is trying different things with him, and the team has been looking to add depth at right tackle behind Charles Leno. If Bars can stay healthy and continue to impress and display versatility, he may go from long shot to lock.
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