Emma: Observations From Bears-Colts

August 24, 2019 - 9:19 pm
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(670 The Score) Only one week remains until 32 NFL teams must cut their rosters from the 90-man limit to 53 by 3 p.m. next Saturday.

Every opportunity to make an impression counts with jobs on the line, which is why the Bears' third preseason game -- a 27-17 win against the Colts in Indianapolis on Saturday evening -- offered an important chance for those who suited up.

Coach Matt Nagy stood by his plan and held out the Bears' starters and key players -- 28 in all sidelined to rest and remain healthy.

Here are the observations of a night in which the Bears got another look at players fighting for a place on their 53-man roster.

Nall aboard

Second-year running back Ryan Nall is making his case for a place on the roster.

Nall busted loose on a 69-yard run during the second quarter, a play on which he waited patiently for the blocks of Alex Bars and Bradley Sowell to deliver the big gain. He added four more rushing yards and an 11-yard catch.

Standing at 6-foot-2 and 239 pounds, Nall brings versatility, vision, good hands and some power. Without a true fullback on the roster, Nall could assume that duty along with whatever else Nagy desires.

Ball!

From star edge rusher Khalil Mack to reserves fighting for a roster spot like outside linebacker James Vaughters, the Bears have spoken of making takeaways part of their defensive culture. It isn't just talk.

In the second quarter, safety Deon Bush ripped away the football from Colts tight end Hale Hentges and continued 91 yards to the end zone. The touchdown occurred because the rest of the Bears defense didn't quit on a play that appeared to be dead for many Colts.

Then in the third quarter, Vaughters made a big strip-sack for the second straight week. His forced fumble led to a 22-yard scoop and score for inside linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe.

Eddy's night

The Bears waived kicker Elliott Fry last Sunday morning in order to offer Eddy Pineiro more reps and the chance to win the job. With that decision day fast approaching, Pineiro had his best showing yet.

Pineiro hit a pair of field goals, converting from 21 yards in the third quarter and then drilling a 58-yarder in the fourth. That latter field goal drew great excitement from the Bears' sideline.

Meanwhile in Minnesota, newly acquired kicker Kaare Vedvik missed two field-goal attempts and apparently re-opened the Vikings' competition. The Bears previously had trade discussions with the Ravens about Vedvik before he was dealt to the Vikings.

Tackle depth tested

Bears general manager Ryan Pace could spend his Sunday morning scouring the market for offensive tackles. 

A week after losing Rashaad Coward to an elbow injury, the Bears lost another tackle in T.J. Clemmings to a leg injury. 

Clemmings spent the entire offseason rehabilitating a knee injury that he suffered in Oakland last season. He appeared to grab at his right knee after going down awkwardly in a scrum.

The Bears moved rookie guard Alex Bars, an undrafted free agent, over to left tackle after Clemmings' injury.

Playing it safe

Why won't the Bears play their starters in the preseason? Because Nagy knows well the injury risk. Now, a few other teams do too.

In preseason action this week, the Panthers lost quarterback Cam Newton to an ankle sprain. The Packers saw receiver Equanimeous St. Brown and defensive end Rashan Gary carted off. The Lions avoided scares after center Frank Ragnow and linebacker Jarrad Davis each left with injuries.

The Texans also suffered a major injury, as starting running back Lamar Miller was carted off with an injury believed to be a torn ACL, per reports.

It only supports the concept that Nagy has brought into the preseason.

Extra points

-- One player who could certainly benefit from strong preseason film is Bush, who's entering a contract season. A backup safety for the Bears, Bush could command a starter's deal in free agency next March if he produces strong play. 

-- Bears backup quarterback Chase Daniel struggled again, going 3-for-9 for 21 yards. However, his offensive line didn't offer much help with protection.

-- The Bears have been waiting for a reserve tight end to stand out. Princeton product Jesper Horsted did just that with a terrific go-up-and-get-it touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone in the fourth quarter.

-- The bombshell report of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck's retirement was something never seen before in a preseason game. From the reaction of the fans to seeing Luck on the sidelines -- it was a stunning wow moment.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.