Depth Matters: A Pair of Backups Get High Marks Against the Bengals

Given that the Chicago Bears’ roster construction has been seriously tested by injuries in recent years, there’s hope that the 2018 preseason could return some quality depth pieces moving forward. In fact, it’s pretty necessary.

But the good news is that potential depth was on display during last week’s showdown against the Cincinnati Bengals. A pair of players who represent what could be perceived as some newfound depth on the Chicago Bears showed up on Pro Football Focus’ Team of the Week for Preseason Week 1, which could mean nothing or something depending on how you want to look at it. Let’s see if you’re in a good mood or not.

Outside linebacker Kasim Edebali was the team’s highest-graded edge defender by PFF’s standards during the first wave of league-wide preseason games. Edebali earned himself a 92.3 grade in his 40 snaps against the Bengals. He came up with two defensive stops, three quarterback hurries, and a quarterback hit. And while Edebali put up an impressive showing against Cincinnati’s reserves, it’s worth noting that he has some notable NFL experience and could be someone worth keeping an eye on as the preseason rolls on.

The Bears signed Edebali in June with the idea of rounding out a group of outside linebackers that was short on depth and experience. He has 61 games of NFL experience, including a 16-game stint in 2014 with the New Orleans Saints – where Bears GM Ryan Pace probably took a good first look at the 6-foot-2, 253-pound Boston College product. Chicago could certainly continue to give Edebali an extended look for as long as Aaron Lynch remains sidelined. The Bears have yet to see Lynch take the field and his practice time throughout the offseason has been limited due to injuries.

Right guard Will Pericak was PFF’s highest-graded interior lineman during Week 1 of the preseason, which could be viewed as a positive sign considering the issues the Bears had finding quality reserve linemen during an injury-plagued 2017. Pericak played 64 snaps and earned a 92.4 run-blocking grade, as he helped clear the way for Ryan Nall’s strong showing against Cincinnati’s second unit. Eight different Bears linemen played at least 250 snaps last season, so coming up with some solid depth among the reserves should be a high priority for Offensive Line Coach Harry Hiestand and the team as a whole.

Pericak spent a chunk of the 2017 season on the Bears’ practice squad and has spent time on seven different teams over the last six years. As PFF’s Michael Renner notes, Pericak is in journeyman territory. But perhaps a few more strong showings like the one against the Bengals could help solidify a spot among the Bears’ reserves.

Preseason wins and losses are essentially meaningless. And while preseason PFF grades probably don’t give us a ton of long-term value, it’s not bad to see players wearing Bears uniforms play well … even if it is against backups.

We should let these grades serve as a reminder to keep our minds open about what’s happening on the bottom half of the roster. A lack of depth has hurt the Bears in the past, so worthy fill-ins potentially coming out of the preseason is something worth keeping an eye on as thing proceed over the next three games.

written by

Luis C. Medina, who you can find on Twitter at lcm1986, has been covering the Chicago Bears at Bleacher Nation since 2017. Since then, he has written about 3 head coaches, 5 play-callers, and 11 starting quarterbacks. Previously, Luis wrote about the Cubs and MLB at BN (2015-16) and worked in the Chicago Tribune sports department (2011-16). He also co-hosted a Cubs postgame show, Outside the Ivy, in 2019.

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