To the extent that any NFL preseason game can seem like a joyous occasion, Thursday night at Soldier Field felt like a coronation for Alex Bars.
It was just a few weeks ago that Bars, an undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame, found himself in the middle of a roster spot battle, and one at a position he doesn’t even play. As serious injuries to TJ Clemmings and Rashaad Coward left Chicago dangerously thin at offensive tackle, the Bears gave Bars – who they brought in as a guard – a chance to instead run away with the swing tackle role.
Not only were they looking to see how he’d handle playing on the exterior, but the move gave the Bears a chance to see how Bars would handle changing positions on the fly – a valuable commodity for any NFL lineman.
“It’s part of the game, injuries happen,” Bars said after the Bears’ 15-19 loss to the Tennessee Titans. “I need to be ready to play every position on the line. So yeah, I knew that if I’d be put out there, I could play there, and it’d be fine.”
Bars played well on Thursday night, with the only blemish against him being a holding call in the second half. Great protection is obviously never an individual accomplishment, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to see a QB throw for over 300 yards and only get sacked once with an out-of-position undrafted rookie protecting his blindside.
“I think he played great,” Tyler Bray said. “I didn’t feel pressure at all from his side tonight. I thought our whole line played great. The times I got hit was really me moving and making their blocks harder.”
Matt Nagy said he saw we he needed to see.
“I did, yeah,” he added. “I didn’t get to watch him as much. I’m excited to check it out tonight, pop it on and see how those guys did.
“But I felt like overall, in general, the pocket for Tyler was pretty good. He had a lot of green grass to throw.”
Now comes actual NFL-caliber edge rushers, something Bars has gotten a taste of in practice. Until then, Bars intends to keep to the plan - lifting, technical work, and plenty of game tape-watching. With the help of offensive line (and his college) coach Harry Hiestand, the 23-year old is still trying to nail down some of the minutiae of what many consider to be one of the most important, if under-appreciated, positions on the football field.
“I’m still working to improve at it,” he said. “I haven’t necessarily repped it as much as I’ve wanted to. But I mean, I’m working to improve it. I’ll watch the tape and see what need to improve on, and keep working at it.”
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Be sure to tune in on the MyTeams App at 12 p.m. on Sept. 5 for the NFL Kickoff Show.