Projecting Chicago’s depth chart after first week

Projecting Chicago's depth chart after first week

The Chicago Bears have wrapped their first full week of training camp practices, which included two padded and five non-padded workouts.

While it’s still early into the summer — with preseason set to kick off next week — there has been plenty of developments at some key positions. With starting jobs and roster spots on the line, there are some players who are making a strong case.

The Bears will release their first unofficial depth chart ahead of their preseason opener against the Chiefs. But until then, we’re taking another swing at projecting the Bears’ 2022 depth chart through the first seven practices.

Quarterback

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Position 1st string 2nd string 3rd string
QB Justin Fields Trevor Siemian Nathan Peterman

Unlike last summer, there’s really no questions or drama with the quarterbacks. There’s no debating that Justin Fields is QB1 heading into this season, and Trevor Siemian will serve as his backup. Nathan Peterman remains a camp body at this point, and he’s sure to get plenty of preseason reps.

Running back

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Position 1st string 2nd string 3rd string Other
RB David Montgomery Khalil Herbert Darrynton Evans Trestan Ebner, De’Montre Tuggle
FB Khari Blasingame

Running back is the strength of this Bears offense. David Montgomery returns as the lead back with star Khalil Herbert set to see an expanding role in Luke Getsy’s offense. Khari Blasingame is the only fullback on the roster, and he should se plenty of work this season. Darrynton Evans currently holds down that fourth spot, but rookie Tristan Ebner, who’s been making waves so far in camp, could certainly pass him up.

wide receiver

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Position 1st string 2nd string 3rd string Other
WR Darnell Mooney Velus Jones Jr. David Moore Isaiah Coulter
WR Byron Pringle N’Keal Harry Dante Pettis Chris Finke
WR Equanimeous St. Brown Dazz Newsome Tajae Sharpe Nsimba Webster, Kevin Shaa

It’s safe to say that the wide receiver room is wide open behind Darnell Mooney. Mooney has been the best wideout in camp, but there are some intriguing names emerging. Fields has shown connections with newcomers Byron Pringle, Velus Jones Jr., Equanimeous St. Brown and N’Keal Harry. But it’s St. Brown who’s made a strong impression on offense through the first week, which gives him a slight edge over Jones for now.

Tight end

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Position 1st string 2nd string 3rd string Other
TE Cole Kmet Ryan Griffin James O’Shaughnessy Rysen John, Jake Tonges, Chase Allen

There aren’t a lot of questions at the tight end position, where Cole Kmet is the top guy heading into the season. He continues to build his connection with Fields, and he’s been his top target behind Mooney. Veterans Ryan Griffin and James O’Shaughnessy are the top options behind Kmet.

Offensive line

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Position 1st string 2nd string 3rd string Other
LT Braxton Jones Larry Borom Julien Davenport
LG Cody Whitehair Zachary Thomas
C Sam Mustipher Doug Kramer Dieter Eiselen
RG Michael Schofield Ja’Tyre Carter
RT Riley Reiff Jenkins* Lachavious Simmons Shon Coleman, Jean Delance

*Patrick and Jenkins are both injured

The offensive line depth chart remains fluid at this point, given that it’s been changing throughout the first week of practices. With Lucas Patrick sidelined indefinitely with a right hand injury, it’s been Sam Mustipher and Doug Kramer rotating at center. But Mustipher appears to be the favorite at center, until Patrick is back. The expectation is Patrick will be back for the Week 1 opener, where he would be the starter. Michael Schofield and rookie Ja’Tyre Carter have been splitting reps at right guard, but as things continue, Schofield certainly looks to be the favorite. At tackle, Riley Reiff has seen time at left tackle and right tackle with the starters. He was recently moved to right tackle when the pads came on to give rookie Braxton Jones more looks at left tackle. That’s certainly looking to be an option heading into the season.

Defensive line

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Position 1st string 2nd string 3rd string Other
DE Robert Quinn Al-Quadin Muhammad Dominique Robinson Sam Kamara
DT Justin Jones Angelo Blackson Auzoyah Alufohai
DT Khyiris Tonga Mike Pennel LaCale London Micah Dew-Treadway
DE Trevis Gipson Mario Edwards Charles Snowden Carson Taylor

Even with the pads coming on, there doesn’t appear to be much change along the defensive line. Robert Quinn has been limited as he ramps up, which has given both Trevis Gipson and Al-Quadin Muhammad plenty of reps as the starting defensive ends. We’re keeping Gipson as the projected starter opposite Quinn, but Muhammad continues to impress this summer. Khyiris Tonga remains the favorite at nose tackle while Justin Jones is set in stone as the starting 3-technique. Mario Edwards has been seen lining up at defensive end in the base defense while getting a look at the 3-tech position in nickel.

Linebacker

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Position 1st string 2nd string 3rd string
LB Roquan Smith* Joe Thomas CJ Avery
LB Nicholas Morrow Caleb Johnson Noah Dawkins
LB Matthew Adams Jack Sanborn Christian Albright

*Smith is on the PUP list

Roquan Smith has been sidelined for all of camp as he remains on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and deals with a contract dispute. But there’s no debating he’ll be the starting weak-side linebacker when he returns. Nicholas Morrow is also a lock at the middle linebacker position. But everything else is up for grabs, although Matthew Adams appears to be the favorite at strong-side linebacker. Joe Thomas has had a strong camp, so he’s someone who could challenge for playing time.

Cornerback

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Position 1st string 2nd string 3rd string Other
CB Jaylon Johnson Kindle Field Lamar Jackson Jaylon Jones
CB Kyler Gordon Greg Stroman Jr. Jayson Stanley Bobite Keyes
NCB Tavon Young Thomas Graham Jr.* Duke Shelley

*Graham is injured

Rookie Kyler Gordon appears to be the X-factor in the cornerback room. Gordon has been getting looks both outside and in the slot during the first seven practices. There have been different starting combinations depending on where Gordon is lining up. It starts with Jaylon Johnson and Gordon on the outside with Tavon Young at nickel, but it’s been Kindle Vildor getting a look on the outside with Johnson when Gordon is in the slot. There’s even been a grouping with Johnson and Gordon outside and Vildor at nickel cornerback.

Safety

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Position 1st string 2nd string 3rd string Other
S Eddie Jackson DeAndre Houston-Carson Elijah Hicks John Alexander
S Jaquan Brisker Dane Cruikshank Michael Joseph AJ Thomas

For all intents and purposes, the Bears are set at safety. Eddie Jackson will start at free safety with Jaquan Brisker managing strong safety. Brisker continues to make a strong impression in camp, where both he and Jackson have notched interceptions. DeAndre Houston-Carson and Dane Cruikshank are the top reserves, and they’ll also serve as special teams contributors.

Special teams

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Position 1st string
K Cairo Santos
P Trenton Gill
LS Patrick Scales

The Bears special teams will look different for the first time in a few years following the departure of Pat O’Donnell. Rookie Trenton Gill takes over the starting duties at punter while Cairo Santos and Patrick Scales are back at kicker and long snapper, respectively.

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