The Bears liked what they saw in David Montgomery's NFL debut. Will they use him more in Denver?

The Bears liked what they saw in David Montgomery's NFL debut. Will they use him more in Denver?

The Bears, collectively, were pleased with how third-round pick David Montgomery played in his NFL debut Thursday night. With that in mind: The seven touches he had in a 10-3 loss, then, only appear more glaring. 

Coach Matt Nagy seemed to acknowledge that this week. 

“Every touch that he had, he did well,” Nagy said. “I’ll put it at that. Between him, Mike Davis and Tarik Cohen, those three guys, they're all special when they have the football in their hands. I recognize that, I realize that and again, like I said last week, I'm well aware of it.”

While Montgomery gained only 18 yards on six carries, he looked better doing so than the numbers next to his name in the box score may indicate. He flashed as a route runner, too, on his 27-yard snag. 

The good news for the Bears is all the things they liked about Montgomery while he was at Iowa State — the vision, tackle breaking, contact balance, pass-catching ability, etc. — all showed up in a legitimate NFL game, not just a snippet of a preseason game against backups. 

“He performed the way that we expected him to perform,” running backs coach Charles London said. “He showed good vision, good patience, good feet, and he went out there and competed and you can't ask for anything more than that. And I look forward to seeing him play again Sunday.”

The Bears have moved on from Thursday night’s disheartening loss, and will head to Colorado to face the Denver Broncos this weekend with in all likelihood a renewed balance to their offense. They’ll also caution that committing to the run doesn’t mean loading up only Montgomery — the team likes Davis, and still views Cohen as a running back even if he lined up in the backfield on only four of his 51 snaps. 

So that may not be the news fantasy football players who drafted Montgomery want to hear, though it’s fair to expect him to be much more involved in the Bears’ offense in Week 2 than he was in Week 1. The Bears didn’t trade up to pick Montgomery in the third round of April’s NFL Draft just to have him average seven touches per game. 

Why that happened remains a little confusing, but the bet here is it won’t happen again — at least in a similar situation. 

In addition to the on-field things Montgomery can do, the Bears came to appreciate his mental approach to things in getting to know him before and after the draft process. That didn’t change in the aftermath of Thursday night’s loss, in which he quickly texted London telling him he had moved on to the Broncos and wanted to know what he could do to play better in that game. 

Based on what his coaches said about him this week — maybe it’s not much. 

“Green Bay happened,” Montgomery said. “It’s over now. You can’t worry about the past, you got the present and the future right in front of you.

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Contract decisions coming for Bears defense as questions hang over LB Danny Trevathan

Contract decisions coming for Bears defense as questions hang over LB Danny Trevathan

As 2018 came to its bumpy playoff-loss ending, the Bears could look toward the coming offseason without major crisis decisions looming for what was then an elite defense. They’d prepared contingencies for possible departures of safety Adrian Amos and nickel back Bryce Callahan.

This offseason they will have further-reaching calls to make, beginning at inside linebacker where two of their top three players are coming out of a contract: Danny Trevathan, also off an elbow injury suffered against Detroit, and Nick Kwiatkoski, coming off a second defense-leading performance in a backup role.

The Bears made a decision earlier this year to keep Nick Kwiatkoski for the final year of his rookie contract. The former college teammate of wide receiver Kevin White had played his way under the NFL’s “Proven Performance Escalator” from $720,000 up to a fourth-year salary $2.025 million, a not-insignificant tab for a reserve linebacker on a defense fortified with major dollars invested on the line (Eddie Goldman, Akiem Hicks), at linebacker (Khalil Mack, Trevathan) and cornerback (Prince Amukamara, Kyle Fuller), with decisions pending at both safety spots.

Possibly before this season is done, the Bears could secure Kwiatkoski with another deal, particularly after Kwiatkoski has stepped in and keyed the defense in place of Roquan Smith (Minnesota) and on Sunday when Trevathan went down with a severe elbow injury.

“Right now honestly I’m not thinking about it because there’s a lot of football to play and it’ll take care of itself,” he told NBC Sports Chicago last week. “For me, I feel like whatever happens, happens.”

What has happened is that twice Kwiatkoski, until now a four-phase leader on special teams, has helped the Bears make their decision. Against the Lions, Kwiatkoski’s third-quarter interception, the first of his career, set up the Bears’ third, final and ultimately deciding touchdown.

“Ryan [Pace, GM] and his personnel guys, they created this depth chart throughout our team where when guys go down you're able to have guys step up,” said coach Matt Nagy. “Kwit has done that, and that's what it's all about.”

Kwiatkoski’s is not the only critical depth-chart decision the Bears have upcoming for their defense.

Besides calls like whether Amukamara is playing at a level commensurate with a $9 million base, or whether to go longer-term on a deal for safety HaHa Clinton-Dix. Defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris will be a restricted free agent. They picked up Leonard Floyd’s fifth-year option but now need to assess whether he is worth either $13.2 million this year or a long-term deal.

And defensive lineman Nick Williams, leading the Bears with six sacks, is going to be worth more than the $895,000 they landed him for this year.

But the Trevathan injury, besides presenting player and team with a difficult decision on injured reserve, also adds a complicating factor in determining where the quarterback of the defense falls among their priorities. His four-year deal, with $15.5 million guaranteed, averaged $7 million per season, with base salaries of $5.8 million in the last two.

There is zero question where the former Denver Bronco wants to finish his career.

“This city’s been nothing but good to me,” Trevathan said. “It’s all I think about, all I want to be. Chicago is a linebacker’s dream. It’ll take care of itself, I’m sure.

“Everybody has a role. I just wanted to do my job and be the best ‘Danny Trevathan’ I can be, and the best Bear I can be. That’s all I can do. My Mom always told me that things would take care of themselves if you work your tail off.”

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Akiem Hicks talks patience and his friendship with Nick Williams

Akiem Hicks talks patience and his friendship with Nick Williams

The Bears have been playing without Akiem Hicks since Week 4 when Hicks was placed on injured reserve after dislocating his elbow during the Bears trip across the pond to the play the Oakland Raiders. If that Week 4 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings feels like a long time ago, it’s because it has been, and the Bears have been feeling Hicks’ absence.

Hicks spoke at an event at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago this week about his time on IR and when he thinks he’ll be back on the field.

“I try not to make too many projections,” Hicks said. “I have no projections, I just want to be healthy and contribute to this football team.”

When asked about what he missed most while being on IR, Hicks kept his answer simple.

“Just being with the boys,” he said. “It’s a different feeling Saturday night at the hotel when everybody is getting prepared and locking in for the game and you’re sitting there spectating. As much as you try to involve yourself, giving them advice and pushing them in the right direction, the true moment, the battle, the competition you’re going to miss. You just have to accept that.”

“One thing that has improved on my time away is patience, I understand that it was my moment and I have to be comfortable with this time away.”

Hicks was asked about Nick Williams, who has been filling in for him at defensive end, with Hicks having nothing but kind words to say.

“Just a stud,” Hicks said. “He’s shown that he can be a dominant defensive tackle.”

Hicks certainly isn’t wrong. Nick Williams is currently leading the Bears in sacks, with six sacks to his name this season. Hicks also touched on the long-standing friendship he and Williams have shared over their two years as Bears.

 “Myself and Nick Williams have a long relationship over these past two years,” Hicks said. “It feels like we’ve been friends forever. He was very supportive of me throughout his time here. It’s unfortunate that I’m on IR, but it’s a great opportunity to be supportive of him as well.”

“If there was anybody who was going to come up for me and play the time that I’ve missed, I’m glad it was Nick,” Hicks said. “I challenge you to pick somebody in the crowd more excited than me when he makes a play.” 

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