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10 Bears players to watch in training camp

Bears receiver DJ Moore, linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and offensive lineman Darnell Wright
Bears receiver DJ Moore, linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and offensive lineman Darnell Wright

With the 2023 season nearing, Bears veterans report to Halas Hall Tuesday to begin training camp. Here are 10 players–five on offense and five on defense–to watch on the practice fields:

Offense

Entering his third NFL season, Fields will garner significant attention at training camp as he works to build upon a 2022 season when he emerged as an electrifying playmaker. Fields recorded 1,143 rushing yards–the second most by a QB in NFL history–and passed for 2,242 yards and 17 touchdowns.

In OTAs this spring, Fields said his familiarity with offensive coordinator Luke Getsy's system "is truly amazing" after the quarterback learned new offenses in each of his first two NFL seasons. Fields will not only look to keep increasing his comfort level during camp, but also build on the chemistry between him and his offensive weapons. Fields and several Bears players, including receivers Darnell Mooney and Tyler Scott and tight end Cole Kmet, met in Florida last week to train together before the start of camp.

Fields' developing chemistry with Moore, a six-year pro who the Bears acquired this offseason from Carolina in a blockbuster trade, will be a focal point throughout camp. Since being drafted in 2018, Moore has continued his rise as a star receiver, producing three straight 1,100-yard seasons for the Panthers from 2019-2021. In 2022, the 6-foot, 210-pounder recorded 63 receptions for 888 yards and seven TDs despite catching passes from three different starting quarterbacks.

Moore began his assimilation to Getsy's offense in OTAs this spring and quickly earned high praise from teammates and coaches. The receiver will aim to continue building his rapport in the coming weeks with Fields as well as teammates like Mooney, Scott and Kmet.

"It's great to have him; another weapon to add to our offense," Fields said of Moore during OTAs. "He's going to bring a lot of energy, a lot of leadership to the room. Everybody's excited to have him."

After enduring a season-ending ankle injury last Nov. 27 against the Jets, Mooney is expected to be ready to return for the start of camp. Coach Matt Eberflus told reporters during OTAs in June that "Darnell is working his tall off and he's right on track."

Since being selected by the Bears in the fifth round of the 2020 draft out of Tulane, Mooney has been integral to the offense, as his 142 receptions between 2020 and 2021 are the most by a Bears player in his first two NFL seasons. Through the first 11 games last season, Mooney had 40 receptions for 493 yards and two touchdowns. Mooney seemed to be hitting his stride right before his injury, averaging five catches in his final four games, including a season-high seven receptions against Miami in Week 9.

As the No. 10 overall pick in the this year's draft, Wright will be aiming to lock up the starting right tackle position during his first training camp. The 6-6, 335-pounder started 42 games over four seasons at Tennessee–27 of which came at right tackle. Wright did not allow a sack in his final 19 collegiate games.

During OTAs, another new Bears offensive lineman–Nate Davis, who signed with the club as a free agent–described Wright as "big, strong, smart," adding: "He's got all the tools you need as a right tackle. I'm excited for him. I'm excited to play next to him."

Last season as a rookie, Jones started all 17 games and was the only Bears player to play every snap. Now entering his second NFL season, the fifth-round pick out of Southern Utah will look to keep improving at the left tackle position while continuing to gel with new offensive linemen like Wright and Davis.

Following last season, Jones was selected to the Pro Football Writers of America's NFL All-Rookie Team. Jones also played a key role in the Bears being the league's top rushing team in 2022 with 3,014 yards.

Defense

One of the Bears' most prominent offseason signings was Edmunds, a 6-5, 250-pounder who spent his first five NFL seasons in Buffalo. A 2018 first-round draft pick, Edmunds has started all 74 games he's played, tallying 565 tackles, 32.0 tackles-for-loss and 6.5 sacks. In each of his five NFL seasons, the linebacker has registered at least 100 tackles.

A two-time Pro Bowler, Edmunds will use training camp to continue establishing himself as a vocal leader, a trait linebackers coach Dave Borgonzi praised him for during offseason training. Edmunds and T.J. Edwards, another linebacker the Bears acquired in free agency, will be a veteran tandem to keep an eye on during the summer.

Along with Mooney, the return of a veteran leader in Jackson has been highly anticipated. Jackson also suffered a season-ending foot injury against the Jets last year, but returned to practice during OTAs in June.

Jackson hopes to pick up where he left off prior to his injury in 2022, as the seventh-year pro was leading the Bears with 61 tackles, four interceptions, six pass breakups and two forced fumbles. He was also atop the Pro Bowl voting for NFC free safeties at the time of his injury. After getting back to practice last month, Jackson said he's eager to "lead by example" and "go out there and play the best ball than I can."

Playing alongside Jackson for a second straight year, Brisker hopes to take a jump following his impressive rookie season. The physical, versatile safety tallied 104 tackles, five tackles-for-loss and a team-high 4.0 sacks in 2022 while being named to the Pro Football Focus NFL All-Rookie Team.

In April, Brisker told ChicagoBears.com his first NFL offseason was refreshing as he had time to work on himself and take care of his body. While the Penn State product grew into a playmaker for the Bears' young secondary last year, he said he "could have been better," and will have chances throughout training camp to showcase his improvements.

With the Bears secondary staying mostly intact, Gordon is another young player who will look to build on a strong rookie campaign. As the Bears' top pick in the 2022 draft, Gordon totaled 71 tackles, 2.0 tackles-for-loss, three interceptions and six pass breakups in his first NFL season. 

While Gordon learned and played both inside and outside last year, he will predominantly play nickel back this season, allowing for more development and experience at the position throughout camp.

Another new face on this year's roster is Walker, who the Bears added in free agency this offseason. Last year with the Titans, Walker played in all 17 games, starting in six, and set multiple career highs with 32 tackles, 10.0 tackles-for-loss and 7.0 sacks.

Through six NFL seasons, Walker has played in 66 games with 13 starts. Following the signing of Walker, general manager Ryan Poles called the 6-4, 280-pounder a "versatile addition for our defensive front who can impact the game both in the pass rush and against the run."

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