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Chalk Talk

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Chalk Talk: What are Bears looking for from Ridley?

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.

What are the Bears hoping to see from receiver Riley Ridley this preseason? It seems like he's always on the cusp of making an impact but doesn't quite get there. As a fan of the Bears and the Georgia Bulldogs, I'll always root for him.
Thomas P.
Lawrenceville, Georgia

As I'm sure you know, Riley Ridley has played sparingly each of the past two seasons since being selected by the Bears in the seventh round of the 2019 draft, catching just 10 passes for 108 yards in 10 games. For Ridley to earn a spot on the 53-man roster and ultimately contribute this season, coach Matt Nagy told reporters that he wants to see consistency from Ridley. Said Nagy: "You can't have bad days, so stay consistent. Put together and stack consistently good days. Do everything you possibly can on special teams, because his focus is phenomenal, his 'want' his phenomenal. He's really grown as a route runner. He ran a slant route [in Wednesday's joint practice with the Dolphins] on the left side and made a great play on third down. So, just keep putting those together because I think he's really close."

How many players on the Bears roster opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID and how much of an adjustment do you think they face returning to play?
Roger T.
Schaumburg, Illinois

There are four Bears players who are back after opting out of the 2020 season: nose tackle Eddie Goldman, safety Jordan Lucas, running back Damien Williams and receiver Marquise Goodwin. Williams and Goodwin were with other teams last year and signed with the Bears in the offseason. I think it may take Goldman a little time to readjust because he was activated Friday off the COVID-19 list after missing about 10 days of training camp. But the others have been participating in full contact drills in practice and getting reacclimated to football. I asked Williams if he felt he needed to knock some rust off and he said: "Nah, we've done live periods (in practice) and it's the same as getting tackled in the game." He added, "When I first got here and we first put the pads on, it was obviously different. It's like, 'Oh, man, I forgot how heavy the helmet was, all of it together, I forgot how heavy it all was.' At the end of the day, [full contact] is something that you need, which is why I'm glad that we practice those things as far as going live some periods." In general, I know that the players who opted out are thrilled to be back playing football. Here's what Goodwin said about that: "A year ago this time I'm standing in the backyard playing catch with my wife. Now I'm catching passes from NFL quarterbacks. So, I appreciate every moment that I get, just showing so much gratitude. Thank God for the opportunity; I'm just glad to be back out here playing football."

Is there one player who has surprised you with his performance in training camp?
Phil P.
Waukesha, Wisconsin

The first under-the-radar player who comes to my mind is veteran tight end Jesse James. He's consistently shown the ability to block and catch, especially contested passes, and I think he could be a very pleasant surprise this season playing behind Cole Kmet and Jimmy Graham. James has played six NFL seasons with the Steelers (2015-18) and Lions (2019-20), so he also brings valuable experience to the Bears. I'm eager to see how he performs in preseason games this summer.

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

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