Chicago Bears: Takeaways from rookies’ performances versus the Bills
By Evan Bruner
The Chicago Bears lost an ugly 41-15 game to the Buffalo Bills on Saturday. As the Bears begin to set their sights on their Week 1 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams, several rookies are trying to prove their worth in the final stages of the preseason.
Although the game was awful to watch and even worse on paper, we have to remember that this was just a preseason game. We need to look at each player on a more individual level. Right now, one thing we can hold out hope for is the 2021 rookie class. Outside of Teven Jenkins who just had back surgery, let’s take a look at how the rookies did in this game.
The Chicago Bears 2021 rookie draft class
Justin Fields, QB
Once again, all eyes were on the Bears’ rookie quarterback. Justin Fields watched the entire first half from the sidelines as Andy Dalton’s offense struggled to get anything going. Fields had his moments, but he wasn’t able to be the spark plug for the Chicago Bears that he was last week.
To start, the offensive line wasn’t able to protect their young quarterback. Fields took two sacks and was forced out of the pocket several times when the pocket broke down. Bears fans had brief scares when Fields had his helmet taken off from an illegal hit from an unblocked rusher and when he came up limping after another hit from a defender. Fields stayed in the game and didn’t seem to be playing hurt, but having a young quarterback take that many shots in an exhibition game is never ideal.
Fields completed nine of 19 passes for 80 yards and was the Chicago Bears leading rusher with 46 yards. Fields made some nice throws and flashed his elite rushing ability; however, it was far from the performance he or Bears Fans wanted. All signs are pointing towards Andy Dalton starting Week 1. In fact, Matt Nagy came out and said it again after the game.
Larry Borom, OT
Larry Borom saw some action against Buffalo after missing last week’s game against Miami and most of this week with a concussion. More than anything, it was good to see Borom finally get some in-game reps.
With the recent news of the Bears’ second-round offensive tackle, Teven Jenkins being sidelined for a significant amount of time, there will be some added pressure on the fifth-round pick. Overall, Borom looked pretty solid in his first action with the team, but he won’t be facing second and third-string rushers in the regular season.
Khalil Herbert, RB
Khalil Herbert has appeared to take the lead in the Bears kick return race. He returned four kicks for 75 yards in the first half. Herbert still looks like he’s adjusting to the role, but it’s good to see the Bears have started to narrow in on a guy to replace Cordarelle Patterson.
Herbert also made some contributions on offense, rushing for 15 yards and a touchdown and catching one pass for three yards. Herbert continues to prove that he can make an impact in multiple ways and could split reps with Damien Williams for the backup running spot early in the season.
Dazz Newsome, WR
Like Herbert, Dazz Newsome is using his versatility to help him get on the field. Newsome returned two punts for 13 yards and had one catch for seven yards. A collarbone injury sustained in OTAs has limited Newsome for most of the preseason. I expect him to have a bigger role in Chicago’s third and final preseason game.
Thomas Graham Jr., CB
The rookie out of Oregon, Thomas Graham, Jr. made the most of the few opportunities he had Saturday. He made a nice open-field tackle on the second-half kickoff and nearly intercepted a pass off Bills’ fourth-string quarterback, Davis Webb, in the fourth quarter. Since the Bears don’t have a lot of depth at cornerback, there is a chance that Graham could get some playing time in the regular season.
Khyiris Tonga, DT
Khyiris Tonga was one of the few bright spots on the Bears’ defense in the first half. Even though he only registered one solo tackle, Tonga made his presence felt throughout the first half. He did a great job of taking up blockers and was able to record multiple pressures. At age 25, Tonga doesn’t offer the long-term upside that others rookies do, but he’s a brought a lot of energy to the Bears and seems to have a good understanding of his role on the team.