Training camp has become a unique time for gathering information. With social media and open practices, fans have a chance to report what they are watching at practice when traditional cameras aren’t recording. Fans will also record some videos for social media to help get the rest of the fan base hyped.
With all this information circling social media platforms, sometimes narratives are formed that may or may not be fair to the player. Sometimes they are overly positive, and sometimes they are overly negative. There are three rookies that have been largely highlighted in a negative light early in camp, but don’t worry Bears fans, it’s early.
But here are three rookies that haven’t dominated reps early, but give them a chance.
When updates come with Darnell Wright’s name attached to them, they have been usually attached to a defensive player beating him for a sack or a tackle for loss. Wright has been beaten in training camp by Dominique Robinson, Trevis Gipson, DeMarcus Walker and Terrell Lewis. He’s not struggling with a dominant edge defender or a particular edge defender, he’s struggling with just about everyone.
DeMarcus Walker with a pressure and likely a “sack”. Beat Wright. #Bears— Zack Pearson (@Zack_Pearson) July 31, 2023
But again, don’t worry Bears fans, it’s early and offensive tackles rarely come in and dominate from day one. Wright and offensive line coach Chris Morgan have altered his footwork some, and it makes practice reps a lot harder when you are thinking about something that previously you had just let muscle memory handle.
Wright’s struggles may continue into the regular season. We’ve seen countless tackles struggle as a rookie but by the end of the their third year, the team is shelling out a massive contract extension to have them anchor their offensive line. Look no further than this past offseason season with the New York Giants and Andrew Thomas.
Most rookie tackles do better in the running game than in pass protection, but Wright is an interesting case and that he is a superior pass protector than run blocker. Many of Wright’s bad reps were also without pads. Chicago Bears fans should expect Wright to continue to improve throughout the year, but just remember, the rookie you see out there against the Green Bay Packers on week one certainly should not be considered the final product.
Stevenson’s struggles haven’t been a focus because when Stevenson is beat, it’s a big highlight for the offense. Stevenson has been in coverage when Justin Fields has been able to find the likes of DJ Moore and Chase Claypool on some highlight-worthy plays.
Stevenson has lost his feet on occasion and lost contact with the receiver as well. It seems when passing highlights have been coming in from training camp, Stevenson has been the one beaten on several occasions.
Chase Claypool won both of his 1 on 1 reps against Tyrique Stevenson. On both reps, Claypool extended to make the catch. Nice hands on both reps.— Nicholas Moreano (@NicholasMoreano) July 28, 2023
What’s further interesting about Stevenson’s play early, is that after a few days of camp, the Bears announced that the vacant outside cornerback position was an open competition between Stevenson and fifth-round pick Terell Smith. While competition is always a good thing, it can’t be a positive for Stevenson that in early reps, he’s being outplayed by a player selected 109 picks later in the draft.
But again, many of these reps were without pads, Stevenson is an aggressive player who will only be helped with the pads now on during practices. It will be interesting to see how things develop over the next eight or nine days as the Bears close in on their first preseason game against the Tennessee Titans.
While you never want to hear about rookies that are struggling in camp, it’s almost more alarming when their names don’t appear hardly at all, and that’s the case with Pickens. Pickens was an interesting selection from Ryan Poles and someone who probably wasn’t expected to play a bunch as a rookie anyway. Pickens is a solid interior pass rusher, but he is, at present, a dreadful run defender. He was always going to be a project for the Bears, but the hope was that they could bring him along on his run defense and pair it with his pass rushing skills and create a really strong defensive tackle. That will take time.
The reports out of camp with Pickens is that he was with the third team defensive line behind Donovan Jeter who was released when the Bears claimed Bravvion Roy. Sure, it’s early, but you never want to see one of your day two rookies behind someone who was just released.
Regardless, Pickens should see plenty of reps during the preseason games, and we should get a chance to see just where he is at in his development. But again, Pickens is a bit of a project who probably won’t see the field (barring injuries) much more than a pass rushing specialist on third and longs. Fans should expect Justin Jones, Andrew Billings and Gervon Dexter to see more snaps than Pickens and you’ll see DeMarcus Walker bump inside as well. This is a developmental year for Pickens, and next season when Jones and Billings are most likely off the roster, Pickens will have more of a chance to shine.