I am excited about being at training camp one week from today. Sure, I’ll miss driving out to Bourbonnais. There was something cathartic about driving with my windows down and tunes blaring on a summer’s morning. It was good for the soul. But maybe it’s time to make some new memories, which will begin with a coffee at a time well before I’m used to getting up.
• It’s not much, but it’ll get the blood pumping:
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) July 26, 2021
• Training camp starts this week. Our regular-season countdown is below 50 days. The summer days are beginning to get shorter. Things are transitioning to football around here. And as an added bonus, there is no word of any player holdouts to this point. In some cases, no news is good news. Moving forward, here’s to hoping the only drama in Bears camp has to do with position group battles.
• A pair of recent transactions are shining additional light on must-watch camp battles. In case you missed it, the Bears are trading receiver Anthony Miller to the Texans. And in showing that it had little interest in wasting time to fill that void, Chicago is signing tight end Jesse James. Neither move is officially official, but players in the receivers and tight ends rooms should be on alert.
• From a pure talent standpoint, it’s fair to wonder if the Bears are worse off at receiver without Miller. Or is the possible addition by subtraction value point higher than we might otherwise think? I hope Miller figures it out. Because when he is locked in, watching him run routes and snag passes is a treat. And if he can find a way to do it with any consistency, watch out!
• Let’s not sleep on the Jesse James addition. James has a reputation of being a solid blocker, which is good considering uncertainty about the Bears’ line going into the year. Even a little chip here and there can be helpful. However, I have concerns about when a guy has a good rep in one particular area because I fear their inclusion in an offensive package could be a tell for opposing defenses who scout well. For instance, when the Bears used Adam Shaheen as a rookie, it was mostly as a run blocker. Teams picked up on that quickly, stifling an offense that might as well have been playing with one hand tied behind their backs. Hopefully, signing James doesn’t limit Chicago’s offensive dreams. Then again, James will need to beat out Jake Butt, Jesper Horsted, JP Holtz, and Scooter Harrington.
• Here’s hoping the Bears give Jesse James a new highlight to be remembered by:
Three years ago today, we all became well-aware of who Al Riveron was and were all introduced to "surviving the ground" thanks to this pass to TE Jesse James against the Patriots that was initially thought to be a TD. #Steelers pic.twitter.com/NFEI5jp2Xf
— Steelers Depot ✌️❤️✌️❤️ (@Steelersdepot) December 17, 2020
• Among the receivers, Allen Robinson II and Darnell Mooney are safe at the top of the depth chart. However, what remains to be seen is how the rest of the group sorts out. Will there be separation at any point in the battle between Riley Ridley and Javon Wims? Neither Wims nor Riley has made a name for themselves. At least, not for reasons you’d want to be known for in football circles. But both have a chance in front of them to earn a roster spot and set forth on a path toward better days. And what will happen between Damiere Byrd and Marquise Goodwin? This battle of veteran pass-catchers is one of those classic camp battles between newcomers. In conclusion, the Bears have enough bodies to offset losing Miller.
• Hanging out in the weeds in all this is Dazz Newsome, who will start the year on the PUP list. If Newsome can get healthy quickly, he could make some noise in the race to get significant snaps out of the slot:
• Don’t be too worried about Tarik Cohen’s name landing on the PUP list. In other words, see the additions of Khalil Herbert and Damien Williams as worthwhile safeguards that will allow the Bears to ease Cohen back to work. Similarly, let’s view Newsome’s inclusion on the PUP list as another example of Chicago not rushing their players back into the lineup. That has been a constant for the team under Matt Nagy. Sure, it seems on the conservative side of things. But I think the lesson here is to prioritize getting closer to full strength instead of being back quickly at less than your best.
• In order to add receiver Dede Westbrook to their roster, this was the Vikings’ corresponding transaction:
The Vikings have waived 6th round DT Jaylen Twyman with a non-football injury designation.
Twyman, who was shot four times earlier this summer in Washington, D.C., will revert to the non-football injury list should he clear waivers.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) July 26, 2021
• This move came less than 24 hours after Twyman’s agent Drew Rosenhaus said to ESPN’s Adam Schefter that his client: “has recovered enough from his gunshot wounds that he will be reporting to training camp today with the other rookies.”
• A notable trade request from the best defender on the Bears’ Week 13 opponent:
All-Pro pass rusher Chandler Jones requested a trade from the Arizona Cardinals this offseason, per sources. Jones has been unhappy with his contract and future with the team. Cardinals don’t want to trade him and expect him to report to camp. But certainly a situation to watch.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) July 25, 2021
• Chandler Jones is a stud pass-rusher. Throw aside the 2020 season, and we’re talking about a defender with 5 consecutive years with 11+ sacks. Two of the last three years were recognized with an invite to the Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro honors. The Cardinals’ defense has question-marks. And while Arizona expects it to be business as usual, getting a trade request this late in the summer makes this worth watching.
• Happy MLB Trade Deadline Week!
• One of the best defensemen during the Blackhawks’ run of excellence during the 2010s is hanging ’em up:
Report: Niklas Hjalmarsson Is Retiring After 14-Year NHL Careerhttps://t.co/8OceS6sV0S
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) July 25, 2021
• I’m sure Tomáš Satoransky could make for a nice role player for some team. It’s just that I’m not sure if the 2021-22 Bulls are that team. With that being said, I’ll monitor this trade market with great interest:
Tomas Satoransky Is Drawing “A Lot of Interest” in the Trade Markethttps://t.co/adl0CsAI7q
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) July 26, 2021