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Bears vs. Bills: Fringe players on the rise

In non-quarterback developments, some Bears players continued to cement themselves as keepers.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Chicago Bears Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears and Bills met on Saturday afternoon with most eyes centered on Justin Fields. While there ended up being a lot of disappointment and consternation on that front, other players did, indeed, participate in what was still a crucial exhibition evaluation

Anyone trying to make the final 53-man roster will take these opportunities anywhere they can get them. These three Bears continued to make names for themselves, while perhaps being cemented onto a team that will travel to Los Angeles in three weeks’ time.

Rodney Adams

A 2017 fifth-round selection, Adams continued a strong preseason against Buffalo when he made a leaping, acrobatic catch from Andy Dalton for a 73-yard touchdown. It was a nice cap to a three-catch, 89-yard afternoon, the day after his first daughter was born. Adams has one career regular season game to his name, which came in 2017 with Minnesota. At this rate, with Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, Marquise Goodwin, and Damiere Byrd all likely locked in, a strong finish to the preseason for Adams could mean he sneaks onto the the Bears’ final roster. It’s not as if Javon Wims or Riley Ridley, Adams’ primary competition at receiver, are doing enough to stand out and say otherwise.

Khalil Herbert

I don’t think it’s outlandish to say the Bears might have themselves another late-round gem at running back. Herbert, a 2021 sixth-round pick out of Virginia Tech, had a strong outing against Buffalo on limited opportunity. Not only did Herbert have the Bears’ other touchdown of the day on a 13-yard score where he showcased great vision, he was also a force on special teams. One muffed return aside, the rookie had 75 yards on four chances, with a quality 24-yarder sprinkled in. Herbert could eventually be a contributor in what seems like a loaded Chicago backfield. But in a kick returner role where the Bears almost certainly have no definitive favorite, he separated himself from the pack on Saturday.

Khyiris Tonga

Chicago has one of the deepest front sevens in professional football. Tonga is proving to be a big part of that strength. As nose Eddie Goldman sat out another exhibition, fill-in starter Tonga made the most of his chances, notching two quarterback hits and two tackles in what was otherwise a lackluster defensive effort. The Bears had signed Mike Pennel, a proven veteran and former Super Bowl champion, to provide more depth to their defensive line. That a seventh-round pick like Tonga appears to have already eclipsed an established player like Pennel, while simultaneously making an obvious impact, speaks volumes of his future.