David Montgomery, Riley Ridley give Bears glimpse of future in Week 17

David Montgomery, Riley Ridley give Bears glimpse of future in Week 17

The Bears' 2019 NFL Draft class earned high marks despite being without a first or second-round pick largely because of the selections of running back David Montgomery and wide receiver Riley Ridley in the third and fourth rounds. 

Both players were viewed as value picks who could immediately contribute to the Bears' offense this season.

Montgomery, despite going through the expected peaks and valleys of a first-year running back, did just that. Ridley, on the other hand, spent most gamedays inactive and entered Week 17's finale against the Vikings with just three catches for 15 yards.

But when Chicago needed a play to be made on offense in Minneapolis on Sunday, the Bears turned to Montgomery and Ridley.

Montgomery enjoyed his second 100-yard game of the year, finishing with 23 carries for 113 yards and a 14-yard touchdown run. Ridley secured three catches for 54 yards, including a critical late fourth-quarter reception that kept the Bears' game-winning drive alive.

It was a positive development in a season that's been one disappointment after another. Hope for a brighter future is usually found in a team's younger players, and with the offense expected to be the primary rehab project this offseason, building the running game around Montgomery and counting Ridley in the passing game's plans certainly helps expedite that process.

Montgomery's rookie year ends with 242 carries for 889 yards and six touchdowns. He averaged just under 3.7 yards per carry, which isn't great, but remember: Walter Payton averaged just 3.5 yards per carry in his rookie season. Chargers Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson averaged just 3.6 per tote in his first year.

This isn't to say Montgomery will have a Hall of Fame career, but his box score will improve as the offense finds its way. He proved in Week 17 how effective he can be when the offensive line opens holes. 

Ridley didn't have nearly the level of production that Montgomery had, finishing his rookie season with just six catches for 69 yards. But he was clutch on Sunday, and he looked the part too. He ran good routes, showed sure hands and did some damage with the ball in his hands. He just needs more opportunities, which he'll get in 2020.

The book on Chicago's 2019 season closes with a win and an 8-8 record. It wasn't anywhere near as exciting or successful as Bears fans expected. But for all the lows this team has produced over the last four months, two rookies provided a source of hope as the 2020 offseason kicks off.

Former CFL star Tre Roberson has chance to emerge in Bears' secondary

Former CFL star Tre Roberson has chance to emerge in Bears' secondary

The Chicago Bears' decision to release veteran cornerback Prince Amukamara has created a void in the starting lineup on defense, one that recent CFL free-agent signee Tre Roberson will be given a chance fill. The Bears are expected to add more candidates for the job over the next couple of months, but Roberson (who was courted by nine teams this offseason) will have his shot.

“I just feel real comfortable there,” Roberson told Bears All Access about why he chose Chicago. “When I came on my visit to the Bears, my workout just felt like I was at home. They made sure I was real comfortable in every aspect of the trip. I just feel like a great place to be is close to home. I’m from Indianapolis, so it’s not too far away.

"We’ve been to Calgary, so it’s a long way from home. So I just feel like it was the best place for me, and I feel like I can help the organization get to the next level, which is winning the Super Bowl.”

Roberson's two-year, $1.235 million deal is a low-risk, high-reward transaction for GM Ryan Pace. At worst, Roberson turns into a contributor on special teams and a solid depth cornerback. But if the Bears catch lightning in a bottle and Roberson emerges as a legitimate and reliable starting cornerback, his contract will turn into one of the biggest bargains in the league.

Roberson had 10 interceptions during his two seasons in Canada, including seven in 2019. He was considered the top CFL free agent making the jump to the NFL this offseason and was rewarded with the most lucrative contract a Canadian League star has received since Cam Wake.

Kyle Fuller and Buster Skrine (slot) have two of the three cornerback gigs locked up, and Kevin Toliver will likely get the first crack at replacing Amukamara (assuming the Bears don't add a veteran free agent this March). Even if they select a rookie early in the 2020 NFL draft, Toliver should have the first opportunity to prove he belongs in the starting lineup. He logged 175 snaps in 2019 and looked like an ascending talent.

By the time the regular season rolls around, however, it could be Roberson who goes from starting in Calgary to lining up as a starter in Chicago.

Taylor Gabriel says goodbye to Chicago in two-part Twitter post

Taylor Gabriel says goodbye to Chicago in two-part Twitter post

The Bears parted ways with wide receiver Taylor Gabriel, releasing him and cornerback Prince Amukamara on Friday.

Gabriel, who played two seasons with the Bears, took to Twitter to thank the fans and the city of Chicago as a whole for his time with the squad. His kind message came attached to video clips of two of Gabriel's six receiving touchdowns as a Bear.

Over his two years and 25 games with the Bears, Gabriel racked up 96 receptions, 1,041 yards, and 6 touchdowns.

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