Chicago BearsHead Coach Matt Nagy is not concerned about the status of tight end Trey Burton, who has been absent from the practice field recently and did not play in Thursday’s preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers.
“It’s not a setback,” Nagy told the Associated Press earlier in the week. “It’s more of, for us, I’m trying to protect him a little bit. I need him and we need him 100% for Week 1.”
Remember, Burton was one of Mitch Trubisky’s favorite targets last year and the “U” tight end is an integral role in Nagy’s offense. So as far as I’m concerned, not only is sitting Burton the right thing from a health perspective, it also allows for more opportunities to evaluate the talent behind him on the depth chart.
Ian Bunting was the most impressive reserve tight end who played in Thursday’s preseason exhibition. The undrafted free agent rookie caught three passes for 77 yards, including a 45-yard dime from Chase Daniel that set up Elliott Fry’s successful kick from the Cody Parkey spot. But he wasn’t alone.
Bradley Sowell delivered a key block on David Montgomery’s touchdown run. Dax Raymond played on 43 percent of the offensive snaps (same percentage as Bunting!) and didn’t stand out for the wrong reasons. With Ellis Richardson and Jesper Horsted rounding out the five-some behind the top three tight end options on the depth chart, maybe it is a blessing of sorts that the Bears are taking it easy with Burton.
But still … Burton hasn’t played since the 2018 regular season finale, missed the offseason training program while recovering from surgery, and has been limited in training camp practices. Part of me wants to see Burton on the field sooner, rather than later. HOWEVER, the Bears should be doing everything in their power to ensure the health of all key players before the start of the regular season. And if it means Burton sits out the entire preseason, then so be it. Doing the right thing can be hard, but in this case, it certainly has its perks.