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Bears mailbag, camp Week 1: Floyd excelling, a QB "controversy", and more

Opening up the mailbag on Leonard Floyd's rise, Kevin White's struggles, and other musings from the first week of Bears training camp.

NFL: Chicago Bears-Training Camp Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Due to a looser practice schedule this year, the Chicago Bears get to enjoy a well-deserved off day on Tuesday. The Bears implemented this philosophy to help better manage injuries and generally not beat each other up in action that doesn't count in the standings. We likely won't see the real benefits of this until the regular season is well underway. Common sense would dictate that is a smart philosophy of team preparation.

This gap in the schedule as the first phase of Bears camp has come to a close, brings about the first mailbag from me of this preseason complete with musings, detailed observations, and sentiments overheard before practice ramps up later this week. I've been with the team since Wednesday.

Here are your questions.

One of the most difficult aspects of evaluation at the start of camp is gauging players along the front seven. Until teams are regularly in full pads, you can't get a clear gist of how the big men have progressed even while noting flashes. In contrast, shells (shoulder pads, helmets, and shorts), do nothing to cloud how to see players in the secondary as well as receivers are doing since their technical work doesn't differ outside of a little more physicality.

With that in mind, it's clear the Bears safeties are a step ahead as opposed to the albatross performances of 2016. Many decried the signing of former Houston Texan, Quintin Demps, but I've been really impressed by how the ballhawk has continually found himself around the ball. He's never been in the wrong position and has made athletic plays to limit what the Bears offense has tried to install.

Demps said himself after practice on Friday that you "just can't explain it" in regards to the proficiency of being a ballhawk. That it's more instinctive and an aspect of the game you can't teach. At this rate, he doesn't have to elaborate if he continues to excel.

Next to him, the competition has been very fluid. Last year's starters in Adrian Amos, Harold Jones-Quartey, and Deon Bush have done very little to impress. I've forgotten they've been out there except for the times when they've made a mistake. Amos in particular has been abused by the Bears' big bodies at tight end any time the team goes into red zone drills.

That of course doesn't bode well for Amos, Jones-Quartey, and Bush because rookie Eddie Jackson has begun to showcase a bit of his own ballhawk ability: he read Mitch Trubisky's eyes from the other side of the field on Sunday and broke on the ball perfectly for an interception.

Jackson, who is working his way back from a leg injury, has already begun to display a lot of the talent that would've likely precluded him from falling to the Bears in April had his injury not happened. He's worked with Demps occasionally and it seems it's only a matter of time, slowly but surely, before he snatches away a starting role next to the veteran.

Do you anticipate Trubisky getting any looks with the ones this training camp? - the 85' percent

The best thing I can say about Trubisky five practices in is that he can flash athleticism and make plays on the move that starter Mike Glennon can't even fathom. It doesn't matter if the competition is bottom-of-the-roster guys that might not even be Bears come August's conclusion. He's made some impressive throws on the move i.e. dimes while rolling out and pressured to both Daniel Braverman and Ben Braunecker that have drawn the customary "oohs" and "aahs" from crowds and have lit the lightbulb in people's minds, "Oh, that's why they drafted him."

That being said, he still has a long way to go. While it's very possible Trubisky could snatch away the starting role by Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons (we're quite early in camp), I wouldn't bet on it. The fumbled snaps aren't the only issue he's had to deal with.

While it's impossible for me to fully evaluate some of Trubisky's reads as the Bears don't tell us what kinds of plays and reads they're throwing into the offense, obviously, his play recognition, command at the line of scrimmage, etc. all need work. In two consecutive days from Sunday to Monday, he stared down a receiver and was first picked off by Jackson as noted above, then should've been picked by Leonard Floyd (landed out of bounds on the reception) who zeroed in on him the entire time. He shouldn't have made the throw at all. These are just a few examples of what he needs to work on moving forward, which shouldn't surprise anyone in the slightest. Trubisky is an incredibly gifted but raw quarterback.

I'll say it and I'll say it again: Glennon hasn't looked like a Hall of Famer in practice, yet he's executing the offense as well as you'd like. He's making the safe throws time and again and hasn't nearly made the same amount of little mistakes as Trubisky. There's a reason the Bears like him in the short-term. I could see Trubisky surpassing Mark Sanchez as the No. 2 by September 10th - he's been quite mediocre - but purely at the moment there's no chance he works with the No. 1's before then. It's going to be a process.

Anyone who has followed my work, knows it gives me great joy to talk about my special boy Floyd. Guys, thus far into camp, let me tell you: he looks like the Bears' best overall player. He's improved dramatically in every aspect of his game.

Concerns about his weight? The Bears have Floyd currently listed at 251 pounds. My sense is that's he even bigger than that as when he's standing next to Wille Young (259 pounds), there's virtually no difference. He won't be erased from running plays so easily like as a rookie. And in gaining that weight, he's lost none of his trademark slippery speed.

Did he add new pass rushing moves and effective, powerful hands? Without a doubt Floyd's technique is what's stuck out to me more than his raw size, more than any other observation at camp.

As many have already noted, three of the Bears' primary tight ends in Dion Sims, Daniel Brown, and Zach Miller were no match for his speed and power in a blocking drill on Saturday. Sims in particular - who is Chicago's best blocker at the "Y" position - was thrown aside like a rag doll. It was a pass rusher putting on a clinic, knowing he's already won.

There's also a measured approach to Floyd's footwork that he sets up well now and his hands have become so quick in conjunction, none of the Bears' tackles or tight ends have been able to adjust. If we'd be counting pressures and sacks during camp, I can't tell you how stuffed the stat sheet would be.

What was a nice wrinkle that I saw was how Floyd reacted in dropping back, given that he is an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense with unique responsibilities. On Monday, he showed off discipline in coverage that was non-existent when getting worked early in September of 2016. On two separate occasions he locked off safety valves for Bears quarterbacks in the red zone and as mentioned, even made a play on what should've been an interception of Trubisky, that only he can make. Both times he read the quarterback's eyes and displayed fluidity with his hips, while being noticeably comfortable.

All of the hype surrounding Floyd this off-season was warranted: he looks like a superstar, one that could carry an entire defensive unit on his back.

Based on what you’ve seen so far, which high profile player do you think is most in danger of being cut this year? - KTB62

As a position group, not individually, the Bears have the best tight end group they've possessed in years. Each of Sims, Shaheen, Daniel Brown and Ben Braunecker are regularly making plays in the passing game as versatile, reliable, big targets for Bears quarterbacks.

It depends on what you think of Zach Miller as "high profile", but because of Chicago's upgrades at the position that are so evident right now, I don't think he makes this roster. While he's been a solid player for the Bears in the past two seasons, he hasn't nearly stuck out as much as the other tight ends. If he was the unquestioned starter he'd be making plays left and right, and he isn't. The Bears haven't even given him that opportunity of heavy usage in practice either. A sign of the times. Sims and Shaheen are basically locks to make the final 53-man roster and for good reason. Meanwhile Brown has proven to be a viable option too.

So if it's between Miller and a more confident Braunecker (I think the Bears will indeed carry four tight ends), I can't help but go with the younger player that possesses much more upside.

I see the "panic" surrounding Kevin White is growing and I'm here to tell you: calm down ... for now.

When a player loses 28 of a possible 32 games to start his NFL career due to two leg injuries, the primary concern will and should be his mental health first and foremost. The fact that White's confidence is a little shot, as many have reported around the Bears' beat, shouldn't be a surprise. One can only imagine the mental hurdles he's been dealing with as he's once again getting comfortable on the football field and that's fine. He hasn't stuck out in practice outside of an occasional burst or two and I wouldn't have expected him to flash anything special this early anyway.

The product that White becomes won't be able to be properly evaluated until well into 2017 and even then, it's a crapshoot given his tiny amounts of experience.

Ultimately, the dilemma with the still-raw White is that he has to simultaneously regain his confidence while also polishing up his technique as a receiver. Not an easy task when you're expected to contribute in your third year. These are the pitfalls one faces though when your developmental track is capitulated two years in a row.

If I had to put a number to it on a scale of 1-10 on exactly much fans should be worried about White, I'd give it a four. Moderate caution here.

I would be interested in a status on all the UDFA's that are currently at camp - BearFanGFS

Evaluating all of the undrafted free agents currently at camp is a little ambitious as not all of them have shown much (perhaps that's your status update), nor can I have my eye on all of them.

However, three specifically have stuck out for better or worse.

  • Tanner Gentry - Gentry has been so dynamic, I'm going to pencil him in onto this roster. He's built a rapport with Trubisky - always a good idea to get in good with the No. 2 overall pick - and consistently makes plays against every Bears practice unit, a sign that he's not a "training camp hero." He's a savvy route runner with good size at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds and has proven to be impossible to cover thus far. The Bears were quite fortunate he wasn't drafted.
  • Roy Robertson-Harris - As I said in the preface, it's difficult to evaluate most linemen this early in camp until the team is regularly in full pads. With that disclaimer, I haven't been impressed by Robertson-Harris. He's kind of molded in with the other guys, even while getting heavy reps among a loaded Bears' defensive interior. There hasn't been much push up front any time he has the chance. Keep in mind that transitioning to being a 3-4 defensive end is new for the second-year pro so he's still green as far as learning the nuances of the position. He's not going to win a job in camp, though. He'll have to wait until game action in the preseason.
  • Joel Bouagnon - I caution anointing any running back during camp as we all understand the Jordan Howard story of last year by now, but the Northern Illinois product in Bouagnon has been solid. For a guy facing as tall odds as he does to make the final Bears' 53-man roster, that's all you can ask for. He's primarily been working with the No. 3's and No. 4's and yet is still touching the ball aplenty, showing a solid burst in the passing game as well as between the tackles. Logistically, I can't see him making the final roster. He's still doing absolutely everything to make Chicago's final decisions difficult.

Unluckily for Robertson-Harris, I've found his primary competition in Jonathan Bullard to be performing very well. It seems the veteran Jaye Howard is working his way in slowly, so Bullard has been given every shot by the Bears to catch their eye and he's maximizing himself from my vantage point.

Bullard's explosiveness pops much more often and has been a welcome respite for the Bears' pass rush that's desperately missing Pernell McPhee. He's consistent now. I'd be curious to see how he translates his current play into live games but a player that was clearly lacking in confidence last year is having no such issues now. Remember that he was once a projected first-round pick. The Bears would be blessed to have that kind of talent emerge along their front seven in 2017. Early indications are all positive.

Will Connor Shaw get a chance to compete? - dougiet

That faint sound you hear is the resident Shaw fan club weeping in deep sorrow because Shaw looks like he's very far down the Bears' depth chart at quarterback as the No. 4. I'd characterize him as a camp arm right now. That might not be honest as a descriptor because he hasn't thrown many passes. Perhaps the Bears will open it up for him during the preseason. Right now, it's easy to forget he's even on the field.

I've always found the Madden ratings to be faulty, making little sense. I know there's a formula used for every player but it's so often out of whack. Here's my best attempt to quiet the haters down and become a game designer to rate these Bears quarterbacks' arm strength (Cutler is a good template.) I see the newest game's ratings are already crazy on throwing power (Andy Dalton with a 90?) so this will work off of my own vaunted numbers. This is exact science, everyone.

  • Glennon, 86: Glennon is basically Brian Hoyer with a bigger arm, meaning a safe quarterback with less limitations. There's more zip on his pass than his older counterpart but it's not like the Bears' Napoleon Dynamite possesses a rocket of an arm. He can make every throw. He just doesn't cut the air like Smokin' Jay once did.
  • Trubisky, 92: Trubisky doesn't have the cannon that Cutler did but man, you can't help but note the sheer difference in a pass from him and every other Bears passer. If he unloads a bomb on the run from the other side of the field, it almost doesn't make it a bad decision if thrown into traffic. Trubisky's best traits coming out of the draft were not only his accuracy but superb athletic ability. It shows regularly in his arm talent.
  • Sanchez, 78: The 30-year-old Sanchez is the Bears' veteran "leader" helping Trubisky and Glennon get up to speed, but other than that has been abysmal in my opinion. Most passes he's thrown have effectively sailed as lame ducks and he can't nearly fit balls into the same tight windows that Trubisky and Glennon hit with ease. It's not a pretty sight. His days as a starter or contributor should be long gone.
  • Shaw, 82: To be fair, I'm only basing Shaw's throwing power based off of last year's preseason. Otherwise, this grade wouldn't be applicable since he hasn't thrown nearly enough in camp so far to make any judgment whatsoever. I'm confident he has a stronger arm than Sanchez though, if only by the tiniest of margins.

Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times and is an editor for Windy City Gridiron. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.