While a lot of the intrigue of preseason NFL games is gone by the half time, often the most entertaining parts of the games occur during the second half. This is where guys are pouring in the effort in an attempt to just make the team. It’s the time when undrafted rookies share the spotlight in an effort to prove to their current employer that they can make it in this league.
As the Chicago Bears took on the Philadelphia Eagles Friday night, the Bears got a great look at some of their talented undrafted free agents. With the first and second teams done for the night, the tempo of the game picked up in the fourth quarter as guys like Jordan Lynch, DeDe Lattimore, and Christian Jones came into the game and helped the Bears tack on a late FG to secure the game.
Lattimore and Jones have the size to be competent NFL linebackers and should be able to make the final roster if they continue their solid play, as the Bears could always use quality depth up front, something the team learned the hard way last season. While Jones and Lattimore only combined for three tackles, their play was more impressive than the stats would indicate. Both players showed great awareness and ability to get after the ball carrier.
With just a few minutes remaining in the game Lynch got the call at running back. The former Heisman Trophy finalist from Northern Illinois has shown great strides in practice since the Bears moved him from QB to RB just a few months ago. Lynch made the most of his opportunity and finished with a team high of 24 yards rushing on seven attempts, including a punishing 12-yard carry which ended with Lynch lowering the boom on a DB. While 24 yards certainly seems like a lowly total, consider that the Bears trotted out six different RBs over the course of the game, and for a guy with only a few months experience at the position, Lynch more than held his own.
The big question mark for Lynch heading into the season is not his toughness or his heart but rather if he could be successful in blitz pickup, something he has never had to do in the past. For the most part he held his own in pass protection as QB David Fales never ended up on his back, though he wasn’t exactly facing a top notch defense at the time. While Lynch is still facing an uphill battle to make the final roster, he made the first big step last night.
The coming weeks should be an interesting ride for the undrafted rookies as they try to prove that they can cut it in the NFL to not only the Bears but also to any prospective team that might have their eye on them in the event that the Bears cut them loose.
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