Week 2 of the preseason is here, and that means plenty of backups and roster bubble guys will have opportunities to leave a strong impression on their respective coaches.
Last week, many players did just that, while others did the opposite.
Here is who I will be paying attention to in the Bears’ second preseason game against the New York Giants.
1. Riley Ridley
In the first exhibition game against the Carolina Panthers, Riley Ridley was active but didn’t get any playing time. Expect that to change tonight when the Bears travel to New York to face the Giants.
Towards the end of training camp in Bourbonnais, Ridley showcased why he was worth a fourth-round pick in 2019 NFL Draft. He was consistently open and caught the passes that were thrown his way.
After Tuesday’s practice this week, Mitch Trubisky was asked about his thoughts on Ridley.
“I love throwing to Riley,” Trubisky said. “He’s very savvy. Like ‘Juice’ [Javon Wims] he can run the whole route tree. We are putting him in a lot of different spots, and as a rookie and in his first year of the offense, he picked it up really quickly. You can tell he’s got a high football IQ. He studies a lot. He is very competitive. He wants it really bad. And you love to see that as a quarterback.”
Although Trubisky won’t get an opportunity to throw to Ridley in tonight’s game, backups Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray most likely will come away with the same impression of him, and hopefully, they will give the former Georgia Bulldog some chances to make some plays.
2. Rashaad Coward
Former defensive lineman now turned right tackle Rashaad Coward didn’t have a great start to the preseason. In the loss to the Panthers, Coward was frequently beaten by defensive ends and was late out of his stance.
This was surprising to see, especially since Coward performed better in training camp.
Coward’s performance against the Panthers isn’t reminiscent of the player that has shown steady progress since embracing the position change.
Tonight, Coward will be back in his home state of New York. He attended Sheepshead Bay High School in Brooklyn, NY, and that is approximately an hour away from MetLife Stadium.
In Week 2 of the preseason, he will have the opportunity to change the narrative of last week’s game and prove to the Bears’ coaches that he can be a serviceable tackle and is worth keeping on the roster.
3. Stephen Denmark
Has anyone seen seventh-round draft pick Stephen Denmark? He apparently wears No. 35 — the same number as running back Ryan Nall.
Of the five players from the 2019 NFL Draft class, Denmark has stood out the least. In the seven days I attended Bears training camp, I hardly noticed him.
As a lower draft pick, it isn’t uncommon to be under the radar, as players are still trying to get acclimated to being on an NFL team, but it would be encouraging for the wide receiver now turned defensive back to still make some kind of impact on the field.
Through one preseason game, backup cornerback John Franklin III made several plays that no doubt helped his case for making the team. Denmark will have to do the same if wants to earn a spot in a crowded DB room.
4. Kerrith Whyte Jr.
The Bears’ first selection in the seventh-round, Kerrith Whyte Jr., showed patience, vision and good lateral movement in his debut against the Panthers.
Whyte Jr. led all Bears running backs with his six carries for 35 yards, which included a 23-yard long run, and he also caught one pass for seven yards.
He wasn’t the only running back that shined against the Panthers, though. The Bears’ first selection in the 2019 Draft, David Montgomery, also had a good game. The third-round pick had three carries for 16 yards and a rushing touchdown.
For the rest of the preseason, Whyte Jr. will have to consistently make the most of his opportunities to show head coach Matt Nagy that he can be, possibly, the fourth RB on the depth chart or at the very least a member on the practice squad.
5. Eddy Pineiro and Elliott Fry
Realistically, Eddy Pineiro and Elliott Fry are going to be on my list, and everyone else’s that follows the Bears, of players to pay attention to throughout the preseason.
Fry had the better day between the two against the Panthers last week. Fry made his extra point and his only field goal attempt, which was from the daunting 43-yard line. Pineiro on the other hand went 1-of-2 on field goals, making his 23-yard attempt and missing from 48.
Five days after the Panthers game, both Fry and Pineiro went 6-for-8 in Tuesday’s practice, and on Wednesday, the Bears were outbid by the Vikings for Ravens kicker Kaare Vedvik.
Clearly, the Bears aren’t sold on either Fry or Pineiro. For now, though, they are the best, and only, option Chicago has at this point. Bears fans will be hoping that one of these guys can run away with this kicking competition to provide some relief to the situation.