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Getting to Know the 2021 Chicago Bears: Special Teams

Chicago Bears

Training camp is open! And there’s a certain buzz surrounding the Chicago Bears as they prepare for the 2021 season with workouts and practices at Halas Hall. So with camp in full swing and the preseason approaching, let’s take an early look at who’s on the team right now.

Previous: Quarterbacks. Running backs. Wide receivers. Tight ends. Offensive linemen.
Today: Special teams

The Kickers:

Cairo Santos

•   2020 stats: 30/32 FGs, 36/37 PATs, 85.2 grade from Pro Football Focus

Brian Johnson

•   Notable stats: Made all 131 extra-point kicks of his college career

The Punter:

Pat O’Donnell

•   2020 stats: 64 punts, 2,924 yards, 45.7 yards/punt;  39.5 net average; 28 inside-the-20; 54.4 grade from PFF

The Long-Snapper:

Patrick Scales

•   2020 stats: One solo tackle.

Don’t Forget About:

Competition among return specialists is one of those things worth keeping eyes on this summer. Not only do the Bears have explosive players who could make an impact, but they also have depth and variety. Potential returners could include Darnell Mooney, Khalil Herbert, Dazz Newsome, and Tarik Cohen. And for what it’s worth, Eddie Jackson has experience returning punts, too.

 What to Watch For:

Can the Bears get a late-round pick for camp leg Brian Johnson? OK, I’m partly joking. But Bears fans know how desperate teams can be for good kicking. And with Cairo Santos locked into a multi-year deal, part of me wonders if Johnson could fetch a conditional late-round pick if he balls out during the preseason. There are plenty of bridges to cross before we get to that point. But who knows?

We Really Like:

Not having a kicking controversy is nice. It’s good for the soul.

We Might Be Worried About:

Player health is a concern here. Long-snapper Patrick Scales is on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Tarik Cohen is coming off a season cut short by an ACL injury. Dazz Newsome missed time during OTAs with a collarbone injury. Special teams injuries aren’t often huge deals, but we have seen what it looks like when they chip into depth areas. In other words, let’s not take it for granted.

2021 Forecast:

Some of this:

A little of that:

Perhaps some of this:

And hopefully NO punts.



Author: Luis Medina

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