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After losing 34-17 to the Lions on Thanksgiving, the Bears aren’t making the playoffs this year. With just four games remaining on the schedule their main focus should be on developing their young talent and determining which players are part of the future core. Knowing the Bears they will probably go all out to win their last few games, bench their rookies, and ruin their chances of a high draft pick, but let’s hope Phil Emery doesn’t let that happen.
Plenty of rookies got an extended look in week 13’s loss to the Lions and some players stood out while others really hurt their chances to be be part of the future core. Here is my breakdown of how the Bears rookies played this week:
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Week 13 Rookie Report:
CB Kyle Fuller – Calvin Johnson is a tough match-up for anyone, but Fuller got a taste of just how tough in the first half on Thursday. In Fuller’s defense the Bears were in a cover 3 zone defense most of the game so not all the blame should fall on Fuller. Johnson’s first TD was just as much Brock Vereen’s mistake as Fuller’s but Johnson’s 2nd TD was a straight-up man-to-man battle in the red zone and Fuller lost badly. Again, this is Calvin Johnson we are talking about, arguably the most talented WR in the league so let’s cut Fuller a little slack. Fuller was also moved from his normal right CB position where he had played 87% of his snaps this season, to the left side in order to shadow Johnson. It’s a sign of the faith the Bears have in Fuller to have the rookie shadow Megatron instead of 2-time Pro Bowl corner Tim Jennings. Fuller’s also playing with about 3 different injuries right now so is far from 100%. Now that I got my excuses out of the way, Johnson beat Fuller bad and repeatedly (9 catches, 117 yards, 2 TDs). Let’s hope this doesn’t damage Fuller’s confidence too badly; he’s far from the only DB that has been abused by Calvin Johnson in his career.One positive is that Fuller was again a factor in the run game with 7 tackles.
G/T Michael Ola – 2 of Ola’s best games this season have come at left guard, but Thursday was not one of them. Ola had a rough time dealing with Ndamukong Suh and Ezekial Anshah on stunts. Pretty much every O-lineman in the league has had trouble with these two guys, so I wouldn’t put too much stock in judging Ola’s performance. Remember rookie Kyle Long, who is one of the better guards in the NFL, got destroyed by Suh the first time he faced him his rookie year. I still have plenty of faith in Ola, who has performed well in every game this year expect the ones when he was matched up with Suh or San Fran’s Justin Smith, two perennial Pro Bowl players.
DT Ego Ferguson – With Stephen Paea struggling on Thursday, Ego Ferguson got his 3rd most snaps of the season and played one of the best games of his young career. Ferguson clogged the middle and was a big part of the Bears holding Joique Bell to under 50 yards before the last drive of the game (when Ferguson was already done for the day). When given a chance this season, Ferguson has done a very solid job of holding his ground in the middle of the defensive line and clogging holes that were about 10 feet wide last year by this point of the season. Ferguson has a future in this league as a run-stopping DT. He hasn’t shown much ability to generate an inside rush yet, but that’s not what the Bears drafted him for and he’s shown a knack for batting down passes which is an underrated trait. Let’s hope Ferguson gets 25-30 snaps per game at least the rest of the way to see if he has what it takes for a larger role next season.
DT Will Sutton – With Jeremiah Ratliff out for the game, Will Sutton played all but 9 defensive snaps and had a pretty solid all around game. He continues to surprise with his strong defensive against the run, while showing flashes of generating the inside pressure that the Bears drafted him for. Sutton was only credited with 1 QB hurry, but I saw 3 and he also had a pass deflection on a key 3rd down when the game was still competitive. Sutton made two key stops near the line of scrimmage on run plays in the first half and played a pretty good game before sitting out the last drive of the game when things had already been decided.
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S Brock Vereen – I’ve been wanting to see more of Vereen because he’s been decent at multiple defensive positions this season (FS, SS, CB), but after watching Vereen play almost a full game at free safety after Chris Conte got hurt, I can see why the Bears were hesitant to put Vereen out there full time. Vereen played very tentatively at free safety; there were three plays that I noticed on tape, notably the first Calvin Johnson TD, that Vereen was in position to make a play and held back for some reason. Whether Vereen was worried about a PI or one of the many penalties keeping DBs from hitting WRs, he just didn’t seem to know what to do. He was constantly a step or two away from breaking up a pass. Vereen runs a 4.5 40-time, so it isn’t a speed issue, it’s an instinct issue. Vereen is just diagnosing plays a second or two too slow which makes a big difference. If his coverage issues weren’t bad enough, Vereen missed two tackles that looked fairly easy. It was an all around disastrous game for Vereen and makes me think that he is better off as a 4th CB / special teams player. Not to pat myself on the back because I was hoping to be wrong, but Vereen is pretty much what I thought he’d be when the Bears drafted him.
RB Ka’Deem Carey – Still isn’t playing much with only 10 snaps, but did get 2 carries for 8 yards. Both carries went for only 4 yards but on one of the runs he was stuck in the backfield and managed to slither his way to make a positive 4 yards out of it. Carey also caught one pass for 7 yards making a slick move to avoid 2 defenders near the line of scrimmage. Carey is a runner used to 25-30 touches per game in college and it will be hard to get a read of Carey’s pro potential until he gets 15-20 touches per game.