Chicago Bears Week 5: Rookie Report
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
The Bears suffered yet another heartbreaking loss on Sunday, this time to the Carolina Panthers. Like last week, this one can’t be blamed on the rookies as they were perhaps the lone bright spot in an otherwise miserable game. This is turning out to be one of the deepest and most productive rookie classes in recent memory so far this season. Here is a breakdown of their individual performances on Sunday:
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Bears Rookie Report:
Kyle Fuller – He had his lowest tackle total (3) of the season, got called for a pass interference in the end zone (questionable), and gave up 4 catches on the day, but considering that he was shadowing the 6’5, 240 pound Kelvin Benjamin most of the game Fuller played pretty well. In a match up between the favorites for offensive and defensive rookies of the year, I think Fuller was the better player of the two. He held Benjamin to just 3 catches for 38 yards and broke up two long plays despite a considerable size and strength disadvantage.
Ka’Deem Carey – Played 12 snaps but only got 2 carries (for 2 yards). After Carey’s strong game against the Packers (14 carries, 72 yards), this is a step back. Carey did miss a block in pass pro that rushed a Cutler pass and forced an incomplete which could have been the reason for his lack of playing time. This was obviously a closer game then last week, but maybe a few handoffs to Carey keeps Forte fresher in the 4th and maybe he doesn’t fumble. A lot of speculation there, but after 29 touches Forte had to be at least a little gassed in the 4th quarter.
Michael Ola – Considering it was his first NFL start at LT, Ola played alright with a respectable .2 grade from Pro Football Focus. Though Ola was playing against two journeyman DEs in Mario Addison and Wes Horton so I was hoping for a little better performance. Ola had held his own against Justin Smith (SF) and Muhammad Wilkerson (NYJ) earlier in the season, so this should have been an easier matchup even at an unfamiliar position. He wasn’t the worst Bears O-lineman by any stretch, but he didn’t get much push in the run game and missed a couple blocks that led to negative yardage plays. It was uneven performance, but it’s hard to be critical since he was playing on the road and an unfamiliar position. Overall this season, Ola has shown plenty of promise and he could develop into a starting caliber G if given a chance.
Ego Ferguson – Played a season high 31 snaps and had the best game of his young career. Ferguson didn’t get much pressure in the passing game, but did bat down two consecutive passes at the line of scrimmage, one of which was caught by Lance Briggs for an INT. It’s been a long time since the Bears had players who excel at deflecting passes but with Ferguson showing a knack for it in the middle and Lamarr Houston and Willie Young off the edge, it should improve the Bears pass defense and make up a little for the lack of pressure. As usual, Ferguson was solid against the run with two stops near the line of scrimmage. I don’t think we will see Ferguson in the starting lineup anytime soon, but he is putting pressure on Stephen Paea and improving the Bears defense in the process.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Will Sutton – Continues to do a solid job filling in for Jeremiah Ratliff (concussion). Sutton is getting some penetration against the pass, but still not as much as I think he is capable off. He had a nice hustle play where he chased Cam Newton out of bounds for a gain of barely 1 yard. Sutton’s run defense has also been better than expected and he is showing signs of being a well-rounded 3-tech which would be great value from a 3rd round pick. I think his pass rush ability will improve as he gets more snaps and the game slows down a bit for Sutton.
Brock Vereen – How bad does Danny McCray need to be in order for Brock Vereen to get some playing time? Did Vereen piss off one of the coaches in practice recently? After two solid performances in tough road games (SF, NYJ), Vereen has been glued to the bench the last two weeks. With Chris Conte potentially out for a few weeks (concussion) the Bears need Vereen to step up and win the free safety job because moving Mundy over to free safety over lessens his effectiveness and McCray is really bad at strong safety. Hopefully Vereen gets a chance to start at free safety this week in Atlanta.
Pat O’Donnell – Be as negative as you want about the Bears special teams because they deserve it, but rookie punter Pat O’Donnell does not. He had his best game as a Bear this week with 4 booming punts for an average of 52.3 yards, a long of 63 yards and two pinned inside the 20. It was what they hoped for when they used a 6th round pick on a punter and a better game than any Bears punter has had in years. His 63 yarder had so much hang time that Bears DB Teddy Williams was able to hit the return man before the ball even landed!
Christian Jones – Has struggled the last few weeks on kick & punt coverage teams, but Jones got his first significant snaps at strong-side OLB this week. He played 23 of 66 snaps (35%) in relief of Jon Bostic and held his own (0.0 grade). Jones had a tackle, an assist, and a QB hurry in his limited time and didn’t make any glaring mistakes when I reviewed the tape. He has elite athletic ability, ideal size for the OLB position and his instincts looked more natural than Bostic’s or starter Shea McClellin’s. I hope we see more of Jones at OLB because I think he has legit starter potential.
Senorise Perry – With Chris Williams returning kicks this week, it looks like Perry may have lost the gig permanently. It’s hard to blame Bear coaches after Perry averaged only 21 yards per return and looked tentative during the Bears first two games this season. Perry is still playing hard though and is one of the better kick / punt coverage guys on the team. Sunday Perry forced a fumble by Panthers return man Philly Brown but unfortunately it was recovered by the Panthers.
CB Al Louis-Jean – Was added to the active roster this week from the practice squad, but didn’t see any game action.
Charles Leno Jr.