Bears

Bears In-Foe: Carson Wentz, the fallout boy in trade aftermath, delivered

Bears In-Foe: Carson Wentz, the fallout boy in trade aftermath, delivered

It's Carson, from North Dakota State, not Pete, from the Chicago rock band.

Nine days after going from third-string understudy behind Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel, Carson Wentz was elevated to Opening Day starter following the trade of Bradford to Minnesota. That despite just a handful of NFL preseason snaps, courtesy of broken ribs in the first exhibition.

All he did Sunday was give the tough Philly fans exactly what they wanted, with a 22-of-37 passing performance for 278 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 101.0 passer rating in a 29-10 win. OK, so it was against a Cleveland defense that put six starters on the field with less than ten games of NFL experience. Yet still...

The number-two overall pick became the Eagles' first rookie starter at quarterback in the opener since 1939 (Davey O'Brien). Heck, even Donovan McNabb wasn't afforded that opportunity in 1999, as Andy Reid went with Doug Pederson instead, the same Pederson who made his rookie NFL head coaching debut after deciding to go with Wentz.

In the process, Wentz became just the third QB to pass for 275-plus yards, and throw at least two TDs with no interceptions in the season opener of his first NFL season since (wait for it...) Robert Griffin III and Jim Kelly (who had USFL experience).

His first scoring pass was a thing of beauty to Jordan Matthews, who remained the receiving corps' top target (7 catches, 114 yards). But listen to the warning 34-year-old left tackle Jason Peters gave Vic Fangio's defense:

"All we have to do is keep the pocket clean. He'll eat `em up."

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The eight-time Pro Bowler also already claimed Wentz's passing on the run is as good as... Aaron Rodgers. Don't tamp down expectations for the kid, Jason. Sounds like the Bears are in trouble.

Wentz won't have his secondary target next Monday night in Zack Ertz. The tight end (6 catches, 58 yards) apparently played most of the game with a rib displacement beneath his left shoulder. The fifth-year Stanford product caught 35 passes over the final four games last season and won't play. Last year's first-rounder, Nelson Agholor, had four catches Sunday after being limited to 23 as a rookie due to ankle issues. Tennessee gave up on its 2015 second round pick during training camp and dealt 6-foot-5 Dorial Green-Beckham, who had just two grabs versus the Browns.

With DeMarco Murray dealt in the aftermath of the Chip Kelly Cleanup Project, injury-prone Ryan Matthews took over the top running back job after averaging a career-high 5.1 yards per carry a year ago. He ran 22 times for 77 yards Sunday, but Kenjon Barner added 42 on just four carries to get the team average up to about four per rushing attempt.

Peters' enthusiasm over Wentz may be a carry-over from relief over Kelly's firing, as the two did not get along. His back and ankle injuries the last couple of years had affected what had been great footwork and athleticism that consistently punched his ticket to Hawaii. The fourth overall pick from 2013 bookending the other side of the line is Lane Johnson, who continues awaiting closure to a potential PED suspension. Jason Kelce went from 2014 Pro Bowl to a bad 2015 as an undersized center who relies on leverage. The Eagles signed ex-Texan Brandon Brooks and former Jaguar Stefen Wisniewski in free agency to strengthen the guard position, but only Brooks starts and 10-year vet Allen Barbre held off third-round rookie Isaac Seumalo at left guard.

Join Chris & Dan Jiggetts from Halas Hall at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday on CSN Chicago, for "Bears Huddle" and "Bears Blitz." You'll hear from Bears coaches and players after practice, previewing Monday Night's home opener.

Chicago Bears Training Camp: Veteran and rookie report dates

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USA Today

Chicago Bears Training Camp: Veteran and rookie report dates

Chicago Bears training camp is right around the corner with the first practice (non-padded) scheduled for July 21. 

Bears veterans and rookies will report a few days ahead of that first session to acclimate themselves to their new (for some) surroundings. Rookies report on July 16, with veterans coming three days later on July 19.

All eyes will be on QB Mitch Trubisky and the potentially high-flying offense under coach Matt Nagy. Training camp will take on extra importance because of the plethora of new faces on the roster and coaching staff as well as the installation of a completely new offensive scheme. It's critical that Trubisky builds chemistry with wide receivers Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Kevin White, all of whom he's never thrown a regular-season pass to. Add Trey Burton to that mix and a lot of miscues should be expected in the preseason.

The rookie class is led by linebacker Roquan Smith, who remains unsigned. With less than 30 days until rookies are required to report, a greater sense of urgency -- even if it's not quite a panic -- is certainly creeping in. Assuming he's signed in time, Smith should earn a starting role early in training camp and ascend to one of the defense's top all-around players. 

The Bears have higher-than-usual expectations heading into the 2018 season making fans eager for summer practices to get underway.

Leonard Floyd picked as potential Pro Bowler in 2018

Leonard Floyd picked as potential Pro Bowler in 2018

The Chicago Bears need a big season from outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. He's the team's best pass-rush option and the only legitimate threat to post double-digit sacks this year.

Floyd joined the Bears as a first-round pick (No. 9 overall) in 2016 and has flashed freakish talent at times. The problem has been his health; he's appeared in only 22 games through his first two seasons. 

Floyd's rookie year -- especially Weeks 5 through 9 -- showed a glimpse of the kind of disruptive force he's capable of becoming. He registered seven sacks and looked poised to breakout in 2017. Unfortunately, injuries limited him to only 10 games and four sacks.

Despite his disappointing sophomore season, NFL.com's Gil Brandt has high hopes for Floyd in 2018. The long-time NFL personnel executive named Floyd as the Bear with the best chance to earn a first-time trip to the Pro Bowl.

CHICAGO BEARS: Leonard Floyd, OLB, third NFL season. Floyd had seven sacks as a rookie in 2016, but missed six games last season due to a knee injury. He's a talented guy who can drop into coverage or rush with his hand on the ground and should play much better this season. He also has become much stronger since coming into the league.

The Bears will be in a heap of trouble if Floyd doesn't emerge as a Pro Bowl caliber player. There aren't many pass-rushing options on the roster outside of Floyd aside from Aaron Lynch and rookie Kylie Fitts. Neither edge defender has a resume strong enough to rely on as insurance.

It's a critical year for Floyd's future in Chicago, too. General manager Ryan Pace will decide whether to pick up Floyd's fifth-year option in his rookie contract next offseason. If he plays well, it's a no-brainer. If not, Pace could be looking at two straight first-round picks (see: Kevin White) that he's declined the extra year.

We're a long way from that decision. Until then, the Bears' season may sink or swim based on its pass rush. It begins -- and ends -- with Floyd.