Chicago Bears: 5 Must-Watch Training Camp Battles

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 24: Quarterback DeShone Kizer
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 24: Quarterback DeShone Kizer /

This Chicago Bears training camp has a chance to become one of the most interesting to watch in a long time. No matter where one looks, there’s talent.

Positions aren’t just up for grabs because they’re lacking any decent players. For most, it’s the opposite. There’s a wealth of capable bodies and the team has to determine which is the most worthy of stepping on that field. It genuinely feels like there are more notable position battles this year than there have been in a long time.

It’s true of both offense and defense. Head coach Matt Nagy has a difficult task ahead of him, whittling down that roster from 90 players to 53 before the end of August. Odds are these five battles will be the ones that garner the most attention.

BACKUP RUNNING BACK:  Bennie Cunningham vs. Ryan Nall and Tyquan Mizzell

The Bears have a two-headed monster at running back with Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. However, it’s a demanding position they play where depth matters more than most. That makes the third spot important. Bennie Cunningham was solid in that role last season. Not only is he a decent runner, he’s also a prove special teams player. That’s what undrafted free agent Ryan Nall and former waiver pickup Tyquan Mizzell will have to overcome. Odds are they’ll need all or most of the preseason to convince the coaching staff they can be better than Cunningham.

LEFT GUARD:  Eric Kush vs. James Daniels

Most of the Bears offensive line is set in stone already. Charles Leno is the left tackle. Cody White is at center while Kyle Long and Bobby Massie fill the right guard and right tackle slots. The lingering question mark is the left guard position, vacated by departed veteran Josh Sitton. The Bears selected James Daniels in the second round of the draft and he’s expected to compete for that spot. However, the team also has high praise for veteran Eric Kush. He was effective in spot starter duties in 2016, making this a fairly even battle going into camp.

INSIDE LINEBACKER:  Roquan Smith vs. Nick Kwiatkoski

Most have already handed the starting inside linebacker job next to Danny Trevathan to Roquan Smith. He’s the teams’ 1st round pick after all. It’s expected he should be on the field. Except he still has no contract at the present moment, which complicates things. Not only that but Nick Kwiatkoski has no plans to hand the job over so easily now that he’s got a serious chance to win it. He’s been in the Vic Fangio system longer than Smith and played well when given opportunities. Keeping the 1st rounder on the bench would give him some serious satisfaction.

DEFENSIVE END:  Jonathan Bullard vs. Roy Robertson-Harris

One of the more underrated losses of this offseason was veteran defensive end, Mitch Unrein. His departure creates a void at that spot alongside Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman. It’s uncertain who will step up to fill. The two heavy favorites going into camp are former 3rd round pick Jonathan Bullard and former undrafted free agent Roy Robertson-Harris. Both showed flashes of ability last season but it’s unclear which of them is ready to ascend to the starting job. Bullard has good explosion but Robertson-Harris may be the better natural fit for the position. It’s a fascinating competition that could go down to the wire.

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EDGE RUSHER:  Aaron Lynch vs. Isaiah Irving and Kylie Fitts

The edge rusher position is loaded with question marks for the Bears. As of the start of camp, only Leonard Floyd is an established starter. The other spot was vacated by Pernell McPhee, Willie Young and Lamarr Houston. This leaves the job wide open. Among the primary competitors for it is veteran free agent Aaron Lynch, second-year man Isaiah Irving, and 6th round pick Kylie Fitts. All have physical traits that would make for a good starter but none of them are proven. Lynch flopped in San Francisco prior to departing. Irving barely played as a rookie last season. Fitts has potential but also a long injury history. Who will overcome the question marks?