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Chalk Talk

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Chalk Talk: How is Tonga faring in training camp?

Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.

I haven't heard much about rookie seventh-round pick Khyiris Tonga in training camp and was wondering how he's progressing.
Pete T.
Provo, Utah

The Bears are pleased with how rookie nose tackle Khyiris Tonga has been improving in practice, and they're confident he'll make even more strides now that they're practicing in pads on a more consistent basis. After conducting their first padded practice of training camp Tuesday at Soldier Field, they're planning to work out in pads Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Said Bears first-year defensive line coach Chris Rumph: "I'm just happy for him because when we had shorts on, those kind of (non-contact) practices are not him. I was anticipating just watching him once we put the pads on, and I can say I'm really happy and pleased with where he is right now and his growth." Rumph explained why he was eager to get the 6-4, 321-pounder in pads, saying: "In OTAs, it's more mental. You're really working on footwork, hands and eyes and things like that. To go against these veteran guys here in camp with pads on—you can't go out there and say, 'Hey, take it easy on me, I'm a seventh-round pick.' But to see him play the physical part is impressive for a young guy." I think that Tonga is in an excellent position to succeed; the Bears defense is similar to the scheme he played in at BYU and he's been getting expanded reps in practice with veteran Eddie Goldman on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

What are the chances the Bears pick up a free agent tackle?
Kevin S.
Sandwich, Illinois

General manager Ryan Pace is constantly looking to upgrade the roster at every position. But I'm sure he's spending extra time reviewing all available options at tackle given the injuries that have thinned out the position so far in training camp. Teven Jenkins and Germain Ifedi—generally considered to be the frontrunners for the two starting positions this season—have missed all of camp with back and hip injuries, respectively; veteran Elijah Wilkinson is on the reserve/COVID-19 list; rookie fifth-round pick Larry Borom is in concussion protocol; and second-year pro Lachavious Simmons exited Friday's practice to be evaluated for a concussion. Of course, at this time of year with NFL rosters at 90, there are few quality street free agents available. But I certainly wouldn't be surprised to see the Bears add a tackle or two, especially with their first preseason game next Saturday.

I'm a lifelong Bears fan and saw your list of states the Bears have played in. Rhode Island? I must have missed that one.
Bob M.
Foley, Alabama

I'm going to go out on a limb and assume you did miss that one, Bob, because the only regular-season game the Bears have played in Rhode Island took place on Dec. 9, 1925 when they lost to the Providence Steam Rollers 9-6. Unfortunately, I don't have a whole lot of details about that game (it was a few years before I started covering the Bears). But I do believe it was played in a stadium named the Cycledrome in Providence that had a bicycle racing track circling the football field.

Chalk Talk features fan questions multiple times each week. Email your question to Larry.

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