7 key questions for the Bears as they head toward training camp

A look at where they stand in some key aspects, including Justin Fields’ development and what this roster still needs.

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Justin Fields is heading into a make-or-break season in 2023.

Justin Fields is heading into a make-or-break season in 2023.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

As the Bears finish their offseason program and look ahead to training camp next month, here’s a look at where they stand in some key aspects:

How did Justin Fields look during OTAs and the mandatory minicamp?

Promising, but inconsistent, and the problem is the Bears have seen that before. There was nothing particularly alarming, but there also wasn’t anything convincing. And this season demands that Fields be convincing.

What does GM Ryan Poles need to address before Day 1 of training camp?

Defensive end is their biggest need, but Poles can also fill out the depth chart at cornerback and offensive line with some late free-agent signings. The Bears are better at both positions than they were when Poles took the job, but adding veterans for insurance — and potentially upgrades, depending on how they look — would be prudent.

The most promising part of offseason practices was …

DJ Moore being as advertised. Maybe it’s just how starved the Bears are for a high-impact wide receiver, but Moore has looked overwhelming. There’s no doubt he’ll be their No. 1 option in the passing attack.

This concerned me the most about offseason practices …

Wide receiver Chase Claypool missing practices. Coach Matt Eberflus described it as “dealing with a few things” but not a big deal, however he noted that the lost time working with Fields is costly. Claypool is one of the Bears’ biggest wildcards, and they gave up a lot to get him when Poles sent the No. 32 overall pick to the Steelers. He traded for Claypool hoping he’d be a star, and as badly as the Bears want that to happen, there simply hasn’t been evidence that he’s headed that way.

The position battle I’m most excited to see during training camp is…

At running back, where Khalil Herbert is not certain to be the No. 1 option. While there isn’t really a depth-chart battle between him and D’Onta Foreman because the Bears will use both of them, as well as rookie Roschon Johnson, there will be competition for playing time. Herbert has been an electric playmaker, but his pass protection has been problematic. Foreman nearly reached 1,000 yards last season and, on a one-year deal at 27, he’s fighting for his career.

What player has the most to gain between now and Week 1?

Wide receiver Darnell Mooney. He was the Bears’ best receiver when Poles and Eberflus arrived, but they’ve added Moore and Claypool since then, and Mooney struggled last season before going down with an ankle injury. It’s imperative that he comes back healthy and makes explosive plays in training camp. Given how much he has impressed Poles, that might be enough to get a contract extension.

Who rules the NFC North now that Aaron Rodgers is gone?

The Lions, for now. They went 9-8 last season and finished second to the Vikings. They’ll probably be a little better this season, which is good enough to rise above the Vikings, Packers and Bears.

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