All the Pieces Ryan Pace Put in Place

The roster Ryan Pace assembled gives Bears a fighting chance, but there are some questions at some spots.
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Ryan Pace closed the offseason in a rush, making a trade of Anthony Miller and signing tight end Jesse James as well as wide receiver Justin Hardy.

The Bears GM stepped back a bit to look at what he'd created on Tuesday as players reported and find plenty to be satisfied with, although Bears fans might think otherwise at some spots.

The Bears had a handful of injured players trying to return from rehabs, some shaky positions in terms of talent and one long-term contract for receiver Allen Robinson that never got done.

Anthony Miller Trade

Pace has traded with Houston GM Nick Caserio at other times, so the Miller trade was easily accomplished. It had already been in the works. The Bears received a fifth-round pick while giving up Miller and a seventh-rounder.

"That communication kind of went on throughout the summer, and for us, it just became a situation where, hey, both parties can benefit," Pace said. "Once I realized we could get a fifth-round pick out of this—we've had a lot of success in that area of the draft, so—I think, also, we feel good about the receiver room that we have, that we've kind of built. There's a lot of competition there.

"It all kind of connected together where the timing was right, and we wish him nothing but the best, and we're moving forward."

Coach Matt Nagy called it a case where there are other options now besides Miller, so he's not worried about losing a receiver who played about 57% of the offensive snaps over the past three seasons.

"The competition that we brought in at the wide receiver position is really good," Nagy said. "You think of a guy like Marquise Goodwin, who we brought in, and Damiere Byrd, obviously having (Riley) Ridley and (Javon) Wims still here and A-Rob (Allen Robinson) and (Darnell) Mooney and there's a lot of depth.

"You've got other guys that I didn't mention that are on our roster that are gonna completely compete and go out there and then what we've gotta do is let them do their thing and see where they're at. I think one of the things is we're gonna feel a little bit of a difference there at that position, that group, and it starts with those guys."

Injured Chicago Bears

Tarik Cohen is on the physically unable to perform list, rehabbing still from a torn ACL suffered about 10 months ago.

"With Tarik starting off on PUP, it allows us to bring him along at the right rate," Pace said. "He's been working his tail off. He's been here every single day grinding.

"It allows us to take our time as he continues to rehab."

Pace sounded some positive notes on the Robert Quinn front. Quinn, who had only two sacks last year after signing for $33 million guaranteed, missed much of last year's camp and missed minicamp this year with a back injury of unknown severity.

"Robert's been here the last couple days as he came in early and he's looked good," Pace said. "He's been working hard, he's looked good and (outside linebackers coach) Bill Shuey's doing a great job with him."

While nose tackle Eddie Goldman wasn't an injury concern, there was concern he would opt out a second straight year or even retire. Pace said Goldman will be practicing on Wednesday afternoon, after missing all the offseason work.

"All indications that we have is that he's in good shape and he's been working hard," Pace said. "It's been pretty constant with him and his agent, a text here, a phone call here, so it's been pretty good."

Cornerback Shuffle

Counting on either Kindle Vildor or Desmond Trufant to replace Kyle Fuller probably seems like a reach to most Bears followers. Pace is comfortable with the competition for Fuller's old spot, which is good considering almost all remaining potential starters in free agency have been gobbled up.

Trufant seems a risk based on his injury history last year in Detroit (hamstring issues) and the previous year in Atlanta (broken arm).

"With Trufant, we've studied him a lot over the years from Atlanta to Detroit, and I think unfortunately last year, there was some soft tissue stuff that came up with hamstrings, so we're getting ahead of that right now with our (training) staff, trying to stay ahead of the curve with that.

"But Trufant we still feel has the stickiness to play man coverage, the suddenness, all those things. It'll be good to see it all play out this camp, and there will be good competition there."

The competition is Vildor, who didn't excel in four starts replacing Jaylon Johnson last year but competes now with Trufant.

The Bears don't view it that way. They believe Vildor showed promise in replacing Johnson.

"That was kind of the bright side of that (injury) is that he got a lot of valuable play time down the stretch and he definitely can push for the starting job," Pace said. "He has that kind of ability, and he looked really good this offseason.

"When I think about these young, emerging players on our team, he's definitely one of them. He's such a pro, the way he prepares and the way he goes about his daily plan. He's a talented player and we were really excited to get him in that area of the draft (Round 5), and the sky's the limit for him."

Left Tackle Behind Teven Jenkins

The Bears played Elijah Wilkinson as a swing tackle in minicamp and this is apparently their answer at the position even though Wilkinson hasn't played left tackle in the NFL in a game.

"So Elijah Wilkinson is a guy that we brought in that has some experience as a starter at other organizations," Nagy said. "I thought he had a really good OTA, kind of coming in and learning again. These guys, some of these O-linemen when they come in and learn through coach (Juan) Castillo, he has some different techniques and fundamentals that you've kind of heard us talking about. So sometimes that takes a little bit to learn and those guys have done a good job of doing that.

Nagy likes his starter's chances of succeeding, even though Jenkins is an untested rookie left tackle. The interesting part will be his baptism by fire in practice.

"There's going to be times when he gets beat off the edge by Robert (Quinn) or Khalil (Mack)," Nagy said. "That's going to happen. But does he bounce back and is he working on his technique and fundamentals? You've got to be mentally tough in this game and so mentally can he rebound from that."

The Allen Robinson Deal

Allen Robinson didn't get his deal and is playing on a tag. History with receivers and franchise tags suggests Robinson won't get a new contract after this season and will leave, but all of this is speculation.

Robinson is trying to low-key the talk about a deal and how he hasn't received an elite contract.

Still it can be motivation for this year.

"To be honest I'm not going to say that it's not motivation," Robinson said. "But I'm not really focused on that. I just want to go out there and be the best player I can be. Everything else when it comes to that stuff for the most part will take care of itself. I'm not in this to prove anybody right or wrong, it's just about going out there, being myself and being the best player I can be and seeing how much I can do and how far I can take myself."

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