Happy Re-Opening Day to North Side baseball fans. I’m fueled by Verbena, the adrenaline that comes from watching playoff hockey at a packed barn while in person, and the vibes that come with watching the Cubs win both games I saw in San Diego. Giddy up!
• Mark Grote of 670 The Score asks…
Bears fans. Which player, other than Justin Fields, are you most interested in this season?
— Mark Grote (@markgrotesports) June 10, 2021
• … and my answer is essentially: Whichever ones are catching passes from Justin Fields. Don’t get it twisted, friends. There isn’t a player who intrigues me more than the Bears’ first-round quarterback. But there are 89 other players on the summertime roster. Many of whom will play an integral role in whatever happens this season. And it goes beyond the players who are top of mind.
• For instance, will Marquise Goodwin or Damiere Byrd make a positive early impression? Being new guys among the pass-catchers can’t be easy. How will someone such as tight end J.P. Holtz look? He appears to be TE3 to start summer. You can throw a dart in the offensive lineman room and hit someone battling for a gig.
• Can we count Andy Dalton as being among #TheOtherGuys?
𝓟𝓸𝓮𝓽𝓻𝔂 in motion. pic.twitter.com/8vwmS6yL7I
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) June 10, 2021
• Defensively, what will Eddie Goldman look like after a year off? The development for someone like 2020 Day 3 pick Trevis Gipson is something worth keeping tabs on as the summer progresses. After all, it sure would be nice to develop a pass-rusher behind Khalil Mack instead of using precious cap space on one every offseason. I’m curious to see how things shake out among the cornerbacks after Jaylon Johnson. I mean, someone’s gotta unlock Teez Tabor‘s talent … right? Duke Shelley and Kindle Vildor made noise in a pinch last year, but both have a clear path toward starting if either can break out. Does Desmond Trufant make good on a one-year “prove it” deal? Many questions, some of which will begin getting answers during training camp.
• It’s weird to not be thinking about kickers when thinking about players trying to make a name for themselves in camp. But I’m cool with the kicking mechanism of Cairo Santos, Pat O’Donnell, and Patrick Scales being unquestioned at the top of the depth chart. At least, that’s how I feel right now.
• Akiem Hicks was reportedly given an opportunity to seek a trade earlier in the offseason, but nothing came to fruition. But things could change this summer. Trading Hicks feels like a sub-optimal end game. Especially when parting ways with a tight end with a limited role (Jimmy Graham, $7M) is an option that can clear a chunk of cap space. Ideally, the Bears ride this out and Hicks gets one last hurrah in a contract year. But the NFL is a business, one where “business decisions” can take precedent (even when they’re unpopular and tough to swallow).
• With Justin Fields and Andy Dalton ahead of Nick Foles on the QB depth chart, I understand why there is clamoring to jettison the roster’s QB3. But cutting Foles would cost the Bears to *lose* salary cap space. Chicago would need to trade Foles. According to OverTheCap.com’s calculations, a post-June 1 trade of Foles would create $4 million in cap space. And for what it’s worth, the Jets sure seem to make sense as a partner.
• The NFL’s preseason schedule is officially official:
The NFL has announced its 2021 preseason schedule. pic.twitter.com/YFLPIFv0Wn
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 10, 2021
• I hope Kyle Long gets a real shot at playing a healthy season:
I did everything I could to prepare to get back for football. Zero regrets. I’ve been getting better everyday and having so much fun with my new team. Focusing on controlling the things I can control. Yesterday was not one of those things! Thanks for the well wishes.
— Kyle (@Ky1eLong) June 10, 2021
• For your listening pleasure:
John Tait Joins the Show — and J Mack Breaks Down the Bears 2021 Schedule | The No Name Football Podcast. New Pod up ! https://t.co/b9vyl1PFEO
— Olin kreutz (@olin_kreutz) June 10, 2021
• I love that we’re already doing this:
Decided to run an early 2022 mock draft simulation for the #Bears.
I can run analysis for each pick if y’all want, but thoughts on the general positional focus? pic.twitter.com/mT9OmCV2Sw
— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) June 7, 2021
• ICYMI — College football’s playoff system could be in line for some changes. Perhaps things would’ve had a different ending last year had this playoff taken place:
Here's what the 2020 College Football Playoff would have looked like under the new 12-team proposal. Two Group of 5 teams would have made it, but no Pac-12 teams.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 10, 2021
• The Bulls’ injury luck is just THE WORST:
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) June 10, 2021
• Remembering some happier hockey times: