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The Infantry: Recapping Bears rookie (and sophomore) performances from Week 7

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One rookie in particular stole the show on Sunday.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears
Eddie Jackson had the greatest game of his NFL career on Sunday.
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday’s game should forever be known as The Eddie Jackson Game.

On the one-year anniversary of his broken leg, the rookie was a driving force in the Chicago Bears’ 17-3 victory over the Carolina Panthers. He finished the game with four tackles, one pass deflected, an interception returned 76 yards for a touchdown and a fumble recovered 75 yards for a touchdown. Had it not been for a 19-yard field goal by Connor Barth and Barth’s two extra points, then Jackson would’ve been the only player on the team to score.

Jackson’s fumble recovery came from a botched read option toss from Cam Newton to Curtis Samuel. Once Samuel dropped the ball, it bounced around among the defenders before Jackson snatched it up and took it to the house.

Although “interception assists” isn’t a real stat, one should be given to Prince Amukamara for his role in Jackson’s interception. The veteran cornerback broke up an attempted pass on a slant to Kelvin Benjamin, and the ball flew up into the air. Luckily for the Bears, Jackson rushed in and grabbed it, taking that to the end zone, as well.

Jackson - and the secondary as a whole, really - has been a pleasant surprise all season for Chicago. They picked him in the fourth round with the hopes that he would become a long-term starter, but virtually nobody expected that he would get off to such a hot start. Quite a few people on Twitter have started comparing him to former Pro Bowler Mike Brown, who was arguably the last great safety the Bears have had. If Jackson continues playing like he has, then that comparison will be very accurate.

Like last week, the Bears ran a run-heavy offense. While Jordan Howard didn’t touch his performance against the Baltimore Ravens, he was passable against the Panthers. He ended up with 65 rushing yards on 21 carries, bringing his season total to 560 yards. His outing was good enough to keep him in the top five league-wide in rushing yards, so that’s always a plus.

Surprisingly enough, Tarik Cohen didn’t get a single carry this week. He also didn’t return a single kick (although he did trip and fall in the end zone on a touchback), and his two punt returns only went for 12 yards. However, he was on the receiving end of a rare successful Bears deep pass. He caught a deep ball from Mitch Trubisky (albeit slightly underthrown) and, putting his speed and elusiveness to good use, faked out a few defenders and gained an extra 30 or so yards after the catch.

Although Cohen’s workload was the smallest it has been all year, he was still able to shine with the ball in his hands.

While we’re somewhat on the topic of Mitch Trubisky...

If you thought that he couldn’t have thrown less passes than he did against Baltimore, then you were proven wrong on Sunday. Trubisky only threw seven passes, completing four of them for 107 yards. On the surface, this may seem like the Bears don’t trust him and, if you’re incredibly ignorant, they think he’s a bust. This is simply not the case, though.

Go back and look at the numbers. The Panthers had the ball for 38 minutes and 35 seconds, while the Bears only had possession for 21 minutes and 25 seconds. Three minutes and 26 seconds of that time was on the final drive of the game, where Trubisky didn’t throw a single pass. It’s tough to throw the ball a lot when your offense isn’t on the field all that much.

Plus, the rookie didn’t have a ton of chances to get the ball off. According to PFF, he was under pressure on a whopping seven of his 13 drop backs (53.8 percent), which was a higher percentage than any other quarterback who played on Sunday. He was also sacked four times. To top it all off, the Bears still have very bad wide receivers (shocker). It would be a good idea to give Trubisky more chances to throw, but the team’s play calling will likely be run heavy until they surround him with some better weapons.

Fellow rookie Tanner Gentry was one of only three Bears players to catch a ball on Sunday. He only had one reception for an eight-yard gain. The undrafted free agent out of Wyoming hasn’t made much of a splash in his three games on the active roster, despite starting in the previous two games. That’s unlikely to change any time soon.

Leonard Floyd had a very good game overall against the Panthers. He was a constant force in the backfield, being credited for seven hurries. He also ended up with four total tackles and a sack, his fourth of the year.

On said sack, he was being blocked by Panthers tight end Chris Manhertz. Seeing that Floyd was eating up his teammate, tackle Daryl Williams attempted to double team him. Despite that, the Georgia alum powered through the two blockers and brough Cam down for the sack.

He is currently on pace to rack up approximately nine sacks this season. If he can stay healthy, then there’s a strong chance that he could surpass that.

Jonathan Bullard ended up with two total tackles while playing on a career high 52.8 percent of defensive snaps. While his contributions have been few this year, it’s encouraging to see the 2016 third-rounder getting on the field more.

No other rookie or second-year player made much of an impact. The biggest news from any of the youngsters was the Roy Robertson-Harris’ left leg injury. After the game, he tweeted out that he will be back soon, and thanked fans for the support. The defensive lineman has been valuable on special teams thus far, so Bears fans everywhere should be hoping that the injury isn’t anything serious.