Chicago Bears Preseason Game #1: Stock Watch Defense
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
ILB John Timu – One of the best undrafted free agents in this years draft, who was the leading tackler and team captain at Washington who had 4 defensive players drafted in the top 50 picks. Timu has great instincts vs the run, but his coverage skills are what could get him on the final 53-man roster. He showed his ability in coverage with a pass deflection and INT and also just missed a sack on a blitz. Timu’s leadership, play recognition, and all around instincts could earn him a spot on the roster if he can prove his value on special teams.
ILB Jonathan Anderson – Elite athlete but raw player who didn’t even start for TCU last season but figured to have a shot as a special teams ace due to his 4.51 speed. Anderson showed some talent on defensive Thursday with two effective blitzes. The first one drew a double team that freed up Cornelius Washington who pressured the QB into a bad throw that was intercepted by Sam Acho. On his 2nd blitz, Anderson was inches away from getting a sack inside the Dolphins 5 yard line. He also had an impressive tackle for loss on a running play. Anderson’s best skill in college was pass coverage, which is far from a strength among his competition at ILB, and if he can add to his value as an effective blitzer and run stopper he could earn a spot on the practice squad.
Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
OLB Sam Acho – Was one of my favorite Cardinals last year due to his engaging radio show out here in Phoenix and effectiveness as a pass rusher. He only had two sacks for the Cards but had 23 QB hurries in limited playing time. His 4.7% hurry per snap ratio was the 7th best among all 3-4 OLBs in the league. Acho also had 7 sacks as a rookie, so has flashed solid pass rush ability throughout his career. He showed the ability to contribute in coverage on Thursday with a 2nd half interception. Acho is one of the most experienced 3-4 OLB on the Bears roster and if he keeps playing well during the preseason he will see plenty of snaps this season.
CB Sherrick McManis – He gave up a couple receptions early in the game (three total), but as the game went on McManis’ play improved. His forced fumble and recovery after a long Dolphins run turned the tide of the game. McManis also made a nice play to break up a slant route and had four tackles overall. He’s been pushing to be more than a special teams ace the last few years and he could earn some snaps at corner this year if he can impress the new regime.
S Adrian Amos – One of my favorite Bears draft picks got off to a good start in his first NFL action. Amos read plays well and seemed to be in the right place most of the time. He finished with a positive grade from Pro Football Focus (.9) in 27 snaps. Amos could have had a more impressive stat line with a tackle wiped out on a penalty and had a major hit lined up over the middle but the receiver dropped the ball. With Amos’ solid play and the struggles of Brock Vereen, Amos could get bumped up the depth chart if he continues to play well.
DT Terry Williams – The Swamp Monster only played 12 snaps but made an impact in his limited time. He made two stops near the line of scrimmage and also teamed up with Olsen Pierre on another stop for just a couple yards. The Bears don’t have much depth at NT and Williams has a legitimate shot at making the roster if he can continue to be a solid run stopper.
ILB Mason Foster – Was paired with Jon Bostic on the Bears 2nd team defense and made a couple nice plays against the run while being solid in coverage as well. There wasn’t anything spectacular about Foster’s debut but he looked like a much better option than Bostic, which I’ll get to below.
* DE Olsen Pierre, CB Jacoby Glenn, and DE Brandon Dunn also all made at least one impact play.