Bears preseason review: Reason for hope, and doubt

The Bears should be an improved team with the additions of DJ Moore, Tremaine Edmunds, Darnell Wright and others — with a chance for a big leap to the playoffs in a wide-open NFC North. But there’s a long way to go after a preseason filled with uncertainty.

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Tennessee Titans v Chicago Bears

Bears wide receiver DJ Moore (2) celebrates a 62-yard touchdown reception from Justin Fields against the Titans in a preseason game on Aug. 12 at Soldier Field.

Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The Bears are through the preseason and have their roster set for the season, which begins Sept. 10 at home against the Packers. Here are six key questions about where they stand. My colleagues Patrick Finley and Jason Lieser also weighed in.

The most important training-camp development was . . .

Seventeen key players missed practice during camp, and all but guard Teven Jenkins and safety Jaquan Brisker are expected to be ready for Week 1 — and Brisker is still a ‘‘wait-and-see’’ possibility to play against the Packers. Availability is a big key to the rebuild, and the Bears (for now) have given themselves a chance to hit the ground running.

What does Justin Fields need to do to earn a long-term deal?

Be the reason the Bears make the playoffs — and win a playoff game. A year ago, it was all about giving Fields a supporting cast that gave him a chance to win. Now it’s about Fields developing into a quarterback who, by the end of the season, can put this team on his shoulders and carry it over the finish line in key moments.

The biggest reason for optimism entering Week 1 is . . .

On a team with unknowns from top to bottom, receiver DJ Moore is the real deal, a versatile weapon Fields can count on in big moments or for a reset after a negative play. It’s a security blanket for Fields he never has had before.

The biggest reason for pessimism is . . .

The offensive line never really got a chance to jell in training camp or the preseason. The Bears figure to have a workable lineup, with Lucas Patrick or Dan Feeney ostensibly replacing Teven Jenkins, but they’re going into the regular season with virtually no snaps as a unit.

Which rookie will make the biggest impact?

Defensive tackle Zacch Pickens. While massive defensive tackle Gervon Dexter has the higher ceiling, Pickens had a simpler transition to the Bears’ scheme and is better prepared to make an immediate impact, especially in a position of need.

The Bears’ final record and place in the NFC North will be . . .

8-9 and third place in the division — behind the Packers and Vikings and ahead of the Lions. But this is a division in which any team can finish first or last and it wouldn’t be a surprise. Never underestimate the mediocrity of the NFL.

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