Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
There wasn’t much to be happy about in the Bears 41-28 loss to the Cowboys last Thursday and the play of the Bears rookies was no exception. The majority of them struggled, especially the more established rookies like Sutton, Ola, and Ferguson. I’ll break down how each of the Bears rookies played on Thursday below.
With the Bears officially eliminated from playoff contention after Thursday’s loss, we should see more of the Bears rookies over the last few weeks of the season. At least we should, the Bears have absolutely nothing to play for the next three weeks except developing their rookies and young players. Lovie Smith used to infuriate me by not playing rookies late in lost seasons, but hopefully Trestman won’t be as stubborn / dumb and will evaluate his year’s rookies to see if any have core-player potential.
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Week 14 Rookie Report:
CB Kyle Fuller –
Fuller was matched up against star Cowboys WR Antonio Bryant for most of the game. Fuller struggled at times, but more often than not held his own. Bryant had 6 catches for 82 yards and probably would have had more had it not been so easy for the Cowboys to run the football. So it’s not like Fuller shut Bryant down or anything, but he didn’t look overmatched and made him work for his catches which is a rarity against this Bears secondary.
Here is what Bryant had to say about Fuller’s performance: “He’s way more than decent. He’s a good player. You’ve got to bring your A game when you are going against a guy like that. You got to.” At least the Bears have one rookie from this year’s draft that looks like a potential starter.
G/T Michael Ola – Despite being arguably the Bears best O-lineman in two of his first four starts, Ola has regressed the last few weeks with a negative grade in 6 of his last 8 games. Ola was replaced by former practice squad rookie Ryan Groy (more later) and has lost his starting spot for next week according to the Chicago Tribune. I think Ola is still a valuable roster piece for next year due to his ability to play guard or tackle, but it sounds like he will be on the bench moving forward.
DT Ego Ferguson – He only played 18 snaps and by my unofficial observation, Ferguson got pancaked on about half of them. He was so ineffective during the first half that Ferguson was replaced by practice squad rookie Brandon Dunn. There were talks in training camp about Ferguson getting pancaked often and that certainly was the case on Thursday. In his defense he was playing against one of the best O-lines in football, but this late in the season more should be expected from a 2nd round pick. The fact that Ferguson is already losing snaps to undrafted free agent Brandon Dunn doesn’t bode well for his future.
DT Will Sutton – Starting DT Jeremiah Ratliff was ruled out before the game which gave Sutton a chance to start. He didn’t take advantage of it. Sutton played 47 of the defense’s 68 snaps and the only stat he recorded was 1 QB hit. Sutton was also a big reason the Bears gave up 131 rushing yards up the middle. He was thoroughly dominated by the Cowboys interior O-line. Sutton will have to really step up his performance over the next three weeks if he’s going to be in the mix for a starting spot next year. He’s shown flashes of being a valuable member of the D-line, but more often than not Sutton looks like a bust. It’s way too early to give up, but Thursday’s lack of impact was concerning
S Brock Vereen – Played 28 snaps (41%) and didn’t embarrass himself like some of his fellow rookies, but didn’t make any plays either. Vereen recorded just 2 tackles and was a non-factor in pass coverage. From what I’ve seen, Vereen looks like a valuable contributor as a 3rd safety or 4th CB but doesn’t look like a future starter to me.
RB Ka’Deem Carey – The Bears only rushed the ball 13 times, so it’s no surprise that Carey didn’t get a carry. Hopefully the Bears will get him some touches over the last 3 games. They should see what they have in Carey to determine if they need a back-up RB in the offseason.
P Pat O’Donnell – It seems like every time I say that O’Donnell was worth a 6th round pick, he plays poorly the next week. That was the case again this week as O’Donnell only averaged 33.5 yards per punt with a long of just 42. O’Donnell has shanked a few too many punts for my taste this season, but some rookie hiccups are to be expected and he’s certainly boomed enough kicks to see the potential there. Despite his struggles, he is still a significant upgrade over last year’s punter Adam Podlesh.