Bears’ preseason opener: Four players who stood out in Hall of Fame Game
Subscribe for unlimited digital access.
Try one month for $1!
Subscribe for unlimited digital access. Try one month for $1!
CANTON, Ohio — Twenty-seven Bears didn’t play Thursday — almost all of them by design — as the team decided to hedge against the added injury risk that came with a fifth preseason game.
In terms of skill levels, coach Matt Nagy’s expectations were understandably muted.
‘‘We just care about the guys’ effort,’’ he said. ‘‘These are valuable reps for the backups. Put it on tape. What we said was, ‘Leave no regret.’ ’’
Here are four first- and second-year players who listened:
• Javon Wims
With four receivers on the bench, the Bears’ seventh-round pick from Georgia led all players with 10 targets, seven receptions and 89 receiving yards. Only one other person on either team — the Bears’ DeMarcus Ayers — topped three catches or 28 yards.
‘‘He’s a kid that has excellent hands — really, really good hands,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘He’s got phenomenal ball skills. He showed that in college. Now he’s a receiver that’s a good route-runner. He can be better. He knows that.
‘‘When you get out on stage and you start getting some guys who are going to come up and press you . . . how are you going to play against the press? I thought he did a good job. He made some big-time catches over the middle in crucial situations. He’s a big target. It’s nice throwing to big guys.’’
The 6-3, 215-pound Wims said he took the Bears’ trip Wednesday to the Pro Football Hall of Fame to heart.
‘‘To see some of the guys out there that I’ve been watching since I was a kid, just seeing a whole bunch of history in one building, it was amazing,’’ he said.
• Kylie Fitts
The Bears’ biggest question mark is how, with Leonard Floyd and Aaron Lynch still banged up, they’ll find ways for their outside linebackers to rush the passer. Their eight sacks against the Ravens was a good start.
Fitts, a sixth-round pick from Utah, might have posted the best game of any Bears defender with a sack and a hurry. When healthy — he had an arm injury last week — Fitts has been one of the Bears’ best practice players, too.
‘‘I felt like I did good,’’ he said. ‘‘And once it starts going against [first-teamers], I can keep on competing and keep getting after it.’’
• Isaiah Irving
The second-year outside linebacker had a sack and a hurry. As an undrafted rookie out of San Jose State last season, Irving posted three sacks and one forced fumble in four exhibition games, leading Pro Football Focus to rank his preseason productivity tops among 3-4 edge rushers.
Another strong preseason — and one from Fitts, too — would help ease the Bears’ depth concerns.
‘‘These defensive guys that came out here, these rookies that played really well, it’s exciting,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘There was a really good feel on that sideline.’’
• Jack Allen
Only four Bears played more snaps than the Hinsdale Central alum. That’s amazing, considering the Bears signed the former Michigan State center five days earlier.
With starter Cody Whitehair on the sideline, second-round pick James Daniels fighting through a shoulder injury and Hroniss Grasu nursing a calf problem, the Bears started Eric Kush but pulled him after 23 snaps. Allen played the next 48.
Nagy appreciated the effort from Allen, who went undrafted in 2016 but spent part of the next two seasons with the Saints.
‘‘For him to come in on short notice and for him to come in and play center, it’s hard,’’ Nagy said.