The Chicago Bears have created an atmosphere full of excitement and good vibes at their training camp in Bourbonnais this year. Coming off a 12-4 season and their first playoff appearance in nearly a decade, large crowds of fans flocked to the team’s open practice large crowds of fans flocked to the team’s open practices, which coaches and players alike appreciated.
Fans and media have been rewarded with excellent play on both sides of the ball. Khalil Mack has brought a ferocious intensity to training camp he wasn’t able to bring last year, but that’s expected coming from the NFL’s third best player. Other than Mack’s obvious difference-making presence, some standouts have emerged for Chicago, three of which weren’t on the team last season. Here’s a look at who is making the biggest preseason splashes for da Bears:
Running Back David Montgomery
So far this preseason, Montgomery has been leaving good impressions all over the place. When the Bears traded Jordan Howard to the Eagles this off-season, many wondered about the gaping hole left in the backfield. Enter Montgomery, who, along with Mike Davis, should lend a new layer of depth to the Bears’ running game. Howard tends to run through people, while Montgomery looks shifter, and makes people miss more, which is something he did in college.
Montgomery has also established himself in the passing game, and after getting beaten badly by Roquan Smith on a pass protection drill early on, has has shown great improvement in pass protection drills ever since. Montgomery seems to possess a smooth combination of humility, dedication, and excellent work ethic, which should serve him well.
Wide Receiver Javon Wims
Nicknamed “Juice” by his mother, Javon Wims is certainly living up to the moniker this training camp, playing with a little more juice than many expected. At 6’4″ and 216 pounds, Wims uses his frame well, frequently winning battles against the likes of Kyle Fuller and Eddie Jackson. Wims (#83) makes this OBJ-like touchdown grab shown at the end of this short clip:
Wims is entering his second year in Matt Nagy’s system, and seems primed to have a breakout season. The Bears’ depth at receiver will certainly limit his time, but Matt Nagy isn’t going to leave a player this dynamic on the bench for long.
Cornerback Buster Skrine
Skrine is entering this season with a different perspective than most players on the team have: he’s an eight-year veteran who has never had a winning season. Skrine realizes that his opportunity in Chicago is his best chance for a Super Bowl yet. Prior to getting signed by the Bears, Skrine played for the Jets and the Browns, teams that went 42-81 in his eight seasons with them. He is ready to win–and he’s playing like it so far in training camp. He snagged a nice diving, one-armed interception during one rainy practice last week, while also recorded three PBUs during another.
Nagy has praised the way Skrine plays the nickel position before, and after some suggested Skrine could be a downgrade at the position, look for Skrine to surprise based on the intensity he has brought to the team so far.
Safety Deon Bush
This former Miami Hurricane was taken by the Bears in the fourth round of the 2016 draft, and he saw playing time last season, including the playoff loss to the Eagles, when Eddie Jackson went down with an injury.
When Ha Ha Clinton-Dix started training camp on the IR, Bush seized the opportunity, and has left an impression on many onlookers in Bourbannaise, including Chuck Pagano. He likely won’t start, but Bush looks much improved this season and has expressed a desire to learn from Pagano, so his arrows seem to be pointing up.
Wide Receiver / Kickoff Returner Cordarrelle Patterson
Patterson’s role will primarily be special teams–he was listed as the top kickoff returner in the Bears first unofficial depth chart, but based on training camp so far, it’s looking like Matt Nagy is planning on using Patterson in a multitude of different ways.
Patterson has worked with both the running back and wide receiver corps, and has shown extreme aptitude playing both positions. He was one of the three featured receivers in the Tuddyville video shared above with Javon Wims, and here he is lining up in backfield:
If Patterson stays healthy, look for him to be a difference-maker both on offense and on special teams for the Bears.