Training Camp Battles: Will Sam Acho, Aaron Lynch hold off Isaiah Irving at OLB?

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Training Camp Battles: Will Sam Acho, Aaron Lynch hold off Isaiah Irving at OLB?

The Chicago Bears are banking on Leonard Floyd to break out as a superstar pass rusher in 2018, expectations that are reasonable considering his first-round pedigree. But even if Floyd becomes an elite sack artist this season, the Bears' defense won't reach its maximum potential without a complementary player emerging opposite him.

It's still very early in the process of identifying who that guy might be, but after last Thursday's Hall of Fame Game, Isaiah Irving can't be overlooked. Irving is in a training camp battle with veterans Sam Acho and Aaron Lynch as well as rookie Kylie Fitts for reps at outside linebacker.

Irving appeared in seven games last season after starting the year on the practice squad. His season was cut short on December 2, 2017, when he was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. Still, Irving's rookie year should be deemed a successful one.

He joined the Bears as an undrafted free agent from San Jose State and had a strong showing in the 2017 preseason. He worked his way to the active roster last October and has gotten off to a fast start this summer.

Irving was the Bears' best pass rusher in the Hall of Fame Game, per Pro Football Focus. His 70.1 pass rush grade edged Fitts' 69.2, both of whom registered a sack. But it was Irving who looked much more explosive off the snap. He flashed a more refined set of pass-rush moves, too.

The fact that Lynch is still sitting out of practice with a hamstring injury has given Irving a great opportunity to prove that he is Chicago's next-best pass rusher. Acho is the most likely candidate to begin the season as a starter, but keep an eye on Irving. If he stacks a few productive preseason games together, especially when opponents' starters are on the field, he could emerge as the guy Vic Fangio pegs as the Robin to Floyd's Batman.

The Bears have the top-ranked defense in Madden 20, plus other takeaways from today's ratings reveal

The Bears have the top-ranked defense in Madden 20, plus other takeaways from today's ratings reveal

A boatload of Madden ratings dropped on Monday, and with it, more content than you could shake a stick at. 

The Bears, predictably, got a fair bit of love on the defensive side of the ball and were largely ignored on offense. 

No Fangio, No Problem

For a wide variety of reasons, it's trendy to point out that the Bears' defense is headed for some regression this season. Madden disagrees, though, rating the Bears defense (88) as the best in football. They did also give the Houston Texans' defense an 88 as well, but never let the details get in the way of a good story. Here's what they said: 

For Chicago, the unit is fronted by 99 Club member, LOLB Khalil Mack. FS Eddie Jackson (91 OVR) is a Superstar X-Factor like his teammate, Mack. That’s a scary combination for any opposing quarterback. Toss in CB Kyle Fuller (89 OVR) and you can see why this Bears unit should roar out of the gate in Madden 20. 

Year 2 Mitch Doesn't Get Any Love 

Trubisky was rated as the 24th best QB, which is already being debated passionately, regardless of how debatable it actually is. What's lowkey worse is that Chase Daniel, the 9-year NFL vet, got the same rating as Dax Raymond, the undrafted free agent. 

May We Remind You That Khalil Mack Is A Terrific Football Player 

Earlier in the month, Mack was revealed as one of the 4 players who received the infamous 99 rating. That means he's also the top-ranked LOLB, two points ahead of Denver's Von Miller and 16 points ahead of any NFC North LOLB. Enjoy those draft picks, Oakland! 

Akiem Hicks Gets Snubbed And Frankly We've Just About Had It 

Hicks was ranked as the 19th-best defensive lineman, which is just objectively untrue. In some alternate universe, there may be 18 better defensive linemen than Akiem Hicks, but that is just simply inaccurate in this one. He was heated about his rating, and we cannot blame him. 

The Lowest Ranked Bears Player Was ... 

Patrick Scales. Sorry Patrick Scales.

Akiem Hicks not happy with Madden 20 ratings: ‘Tell them to come see me’

Akiem Hicks not happy with Madden 20 ratings: ‘Tell them to come see me’

EA Sports released the full Madden 20 player ratings for every team in the NFL, and not everyone was happy with the numbers they received.

The Bears shared a video of backup quarterback Chase Daniel revealing ratings to his teammates, and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks seemed the most upset of the group.

“Bring some of the scouts out here doing the madden ratings,” Hicks said. “Tell them to come see me.”

Hicks received an overall rating of 87, tied for fourth-highest on the team and 10th-highest among defensive ends.

He has the same rating as Green Bay Packers DE Mike Daniels and Detroit Lions DE Trey Flowers.

In the video, running back Tarik Cohen was disappointed with his 92 speed, which is tied for third-fastest on the team behind wide receivers Taylor Gabriel and Emanuel Hall.

Cohen does lead the Bears with 97 agility and 92 elusiveness, but he thought his throwing power stat should be higher than 51 after his two career passing touchdowns.