We asked our Windy City Gridiron staffers to answer a series of questions for a preseason roundtable about the Chicago Bears’ 2022 position groups. Are the players in those rooms better, worse, or a push from the groups they had for the 2021 season?
We took all our answers one position group at a time and published them all week long. Let us know your thoughts about the special teamers in the comment section below after checking out what we had to say here.
Josh Sunderbruch: Gill has been impressive, and Jones should at least hold serve in the return game.
Move along, nothing to see here...
Lester Wiltfong: Santos and Scales each return to do their thing, and Trenton Gill (The Gillotine) has a chance to be just as good as O’Donnell. The return units should be as good as a year ago, but there’s potential to be better.
ECD: Trenton Gill seems like an upgrade over Pat O’Donnell in terms of punt placements. The coverage units are a bit of an unknown right now, although Jack Sanborn is quickly developing into an ace. Velus Jones Jr. will be a dangerous kick and punt returner - it’s just hard to top what we saw from Jakeem Grant last season.
Peter Borkowski: Last year’s group was good, and this year’s should be good too. Trenton Gill probably won’t be significantly worse or better than Pat O’Donnell, so not much changes at the punter position. Velus Jones Jr. looks like a solid returner, even if he might not live up to Jakeem Grant’s standards. It might be a little too early to speak on the coverage units, blockers, etc., but there hasn’t been any real reason for concern over those groups this far into the preseason. Cairo Santos is Cairo Santos, so the kicker spot is a lock. Oh, and Patrick Scales. Don’t forget Patrick Scales.
Jack Salo: Serviceable starting punter out, serviceable starting punter in. Gill should be fine, and with the lack of offensive improvements, might get plenty of big league experience in 2022 punting the ball. Cairo Santos boosted his career field goal accuracy in his two years in Chicago, with 90.3% in the two years since he signed in 2020, but he came to town with an 80.6%, and he’s due for some misses. Herbert’s a fine kick returner, but the team hasn’t fully committed to Velus Jones Jr. as punt returner; he might be the next big thing. All of this is trading stability for potential, though. Not worse, but don’t count chickens before they...you get it.
Sam Householder: The kicker and long snapper are the same and have been excellent. Trenton Gill might be an upgrade over Pat O’Donnell, but it’s easy to forget how good O’Donnell was in 2021.
Aaron Leming: I want to put them in the better category, but I’ll remain in wait-and-see mode here. Pat O’Donnell was a quality, league average punter. So far, rookie Trenton Gill has looked like a possible improvement from that. From a coverage standpoint, this is a brand new unit with a much higher upside. The biggest question here is, who are the two primary return options? Jones Jr. and Ebner should see their fair share of chances to lock down those jobs.
We put the question about the specialists on Twitter, and here’s how that poll went.
Is the #Bears 2022 Special Teams room better, worse, or a push from the group they had in 2021?— Windy City Gridiron (@WCGridiron) August 22, 2022