PFF: Louis, Rachal will battle at right guard


PFF: Louis, Rachal will battle at right guard

Pro Football Focus is looking at each team in each division's biggest training camp position battle. Up today was the NFC North, where PFF writer Nathan Jahnke believes the right guard battle between Lance Louis and Chilo Rachal will be close.
Two days ago, Bears Insider John "Moon" Mullin previewed the Bears offensive line as part of his training camp preview series. Mullin said left tackle will be "the most closely watched position of training camp," but left guard should be another close battle. Mullin apparently gave the edge to Rachal:
"Louis filled in admirably at right tackle last season after securing the starting right guard job in camp. But Louis lost that job in 2010 and is not a given this year. The Bears signed Rachal, a former starter for San Francisco, and Rachal is a bigger, stronger, more proven option at guard."
According to PFF, Rachal was the highest rated run-blocker in 2010, but lost his job to Adam Synder last season. PFF also notes Rachal has lost weight and will have a chip on his shoulder playing under a one-year contract.
Rounding out the NFC North:
Detroit Lions: Cornerbacks Aaron Berry vs. Jacob Lacey
Berry, last year's nickel cornerback, will compete with free agent pick-up Lacey, who played in Indianapolis a year ago. There's a chance third-round rookie Dwight Bentley could challenge for a starting spot, but it likely will come down to Berry and Lacey.
Green Bay Packers: Defensive linemen Mike Daniels, Anthony Hargrove, Phillip Merling, Mike Neal, C.J. Wilson, Jerel Worthy and Jarius Wynn
The Packers' defensive line struggled to replace Cullen Jenkins (Philadelphia) last season, and moved up to draft Michigan State's Worthy. Wilson and Wynn are likely candidates for the starting gig, but there will be a rotation regardless of who starts.
Minnesota Vikings: Right guards Brandon Fusco and Geoff Schwartz
Fusco was a sixth round draft-pick in 2011 who saw limited playing time in his rookie season. Schwartz missed all of 2011 with an injury after starting at left guard for Carolina in 2010 and, if healthy, has the inside edge on the starting spot.

Chicago Bears Training Camp: Veteran and rookie report dates

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,'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.