The Starting Left Guard Battle Between Eric Kush and James Daniels is Coming Down to the Wire

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The Starting Left Guard Battle Between Eric Kush and James Daniels is Coming Down to the Wire

Chicago Bears

Unless something changes between now and Thursday, the Chicago Bears will kick off their final preseason game without having settled on a starting group of offensive linemen.

But as far as Head Coach Matt Nagy is concerned, that’s fine because there’s still work to be done – specifically, in the battle for the starting left guard position between rookie James Daniels and veteran Eric Kush: “We’re still communicating through that, and that’s the fun part for us,” Nagy said during his Monday press conference (of which you can check out other highlights here). “That’s a great battle right now there with those two guys. I have a lot of trust in (Offensive Line Coach) Harry (Hiestand) and what he believes and where he’s at. We’ll talk about it as a staff and try to make the best decision.”

The Bears created an opening early in the offseason by not picking up the third-year option on Josh Sitton, then appeared to fill it when they drafted Daniels in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft and immediately insisted the natural center would slot in as a guard to start his professional career. But training camp opened with Kush atop the depth chart. And as a the veteran with knowledge and past experience in Nagy’s system, Kush had an early upper hand in the competition. Now, we’re coming down the stretch and the situation still having yet to be resolved.

Daniels is younger (he can’t legally buy himself a beer until mid-September) and has the kind of upside you want from a lineman selected in the second round. But because of his youth and inexperience against professional competition, there will be some growing pains that Daniels must fight through (and that the Bears must live with). Meanwhile, Kush has experience and a full understanding of an offensive system he has familiarity with dating back to his time as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs. Kush has also worked alongside left tackle Charles Leno Jr. and center Cody Whitehair going back to 2016, which was his first year in Chicago. But Kush has had his struggles holding off pass-rushers from penetrating the interior. Knowledge and wisdom can only take you so far as a lineman.

The Bears’ decision could ultimately come down to choosing to kick-start the developmental process of a young player with upside by throwing Daniels into the fire right away or siding with the veteran know-how of Kush in the search for early stability.

Either way, you can expect Daniels to figure into the picture sooner, rather than later. At some point, the Bears are going to look toward what’s best for the long-term health of the offensive line. Daniels is part of the group’s potentially bright future, whether it’s at guard, center, or elsewhere. We just don’t know if that future will debut in Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers.



Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.