The Chicago Bears first preseason game kicks off Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens in the 2018 Hall of Fame Game and will give the NFL its first look at Lamar Jackson, the dynamic dual-threat quarterback chosen in the first round of April's NFL draft.
Jackson should see a fair share of reps in the preseason opener. Robert Griffin III will get the start (assuming Joe Flacco sits this one out) and will probably play deep into the first quarter, if not more. But the real fun begins once Jackson takes the field. He'll challenge Bears defenders, especially the edge defenders and second-level linebackers, with his escapability and dynamic speed.
Here are four Bears worth watching when Chicago is on defense:
Nichols will see his first NFL action after coming to Chicago as a fifth-round pick from the FCS ranks. Not only will he be challenged by bigger and stronger linemen, but he'll square off against one of the scariest athletes playing quarterback to enter the NFL since Mike Vick. If he's able to create some pressure or wrangle Jackson to the ground, he'll build a lot of momentum for an even bigger role as a rookie.
Robertson-Harris is in a training camp battle with Jonathan Bullard for a starting job alongside Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman. He's overflowing with potential and has a freakish combination of size and movement skills. If he can run down Jackson and flash some of that ability during the Hall of Fame Game, his stock will be on the rise.
Irving is fighting for a roster spot this season and is something of a fan-favorite to actually challenge for starter's reps at outside linebacker. With Aaron Lynch continuing to miss time and Sam Acho already a known commodity, Irving has a wide open opportunity to carve out a pass-rushing role in the preseason.
Will the Bears play Kwiatkoski, currently a starter, in the Hall of Fame Game with Roquan Smith's contract status still a great unknown? They should. Kwiatkoski is a very talented player and one who likely has a long-term future in Chicago, but once Smith returns from his holdout, the third-year pro will revert to backup reps. The Bears should continue to build as much tape as they can on Kwiatkoski to help evaluate his role and status for the future. Plus, if he shines? Maybe it forces Smith's hand a little.
Mitchell Trubisky is using his platform to support Blackout Tuesday and the protests against racial injustice in the United States.
In the post, Trubisky concedes he will never truly understand the struggles black people experience in America, but he stands by them during this time of unrest.
“Throughout my life I’ve been blessed to share the field and locker room with countless black men,” Trubisky said in the post. “These men and teammates have become family to me. Although I could never understand what they have to experience I empathize with them and love them like brothers. I stand with my brothers and sisters in the fight against racial injustices.
“We need to do more. We must do better. Posts, tweets, and statements aren’t enough. We need to take action. We must take the steps together to make systematic changes to prevent these evil acts from occurring.
“Love is stronger than hate. Peace and Unity will overcome violence. Black Lives Matter. #JusticeforGeorgeFloyd”
Trubisky broke his social media silence to make his statement. He hadn’t posted on Instagram since Dec. 19, and besides retweeting teammates, friends and brands, he still hasn’t posted on Twitter since May 2019.
RELATED: Brian Urlacher's curious response to Grant Hill on Instagram
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On Monday evening, the Bears released a statement from George McCaskey regarding the recent death of George Floyd:
A week ago another unarmed African-American man died at the hands of a white police officer. We are witnessing the anger and frustration play out in protests across the nation, including Chicago. We must do more than wring our hands and hope it doesn’t happen again. As an organization, we have addressed it internally by offering unconditional support to our family of staff, coaches and players, and today Ryan Pace and Coach Nagy spent the allotted two hours of team meeting time listening to and healing together with our players and the coaching staff. Through our voice, our actions and our resources, it is our obligation to lead. We will continue to work with our player-led social justice committee to provide funding and exposure to local organizations dedicated to empowering communities that have been oppressed for far too long. We’re proud to support organizations like BUILD Chicago, I Grow Chicago, My Block, My Hood, My City, and Youth Guidance, among others, who are doing great work in these communities and we encourage fans to partner with us in supporting them. Our commitment is to continue to be an active participant in change.
Though they don't use his name specifically, it's clearly a reference to Floyd's death, as they Bears joined (most) teams across the country in issuing statements condemning the abuse of power among law enforcement officials.