INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Training camp is over.
So that means no more applying copious amounts of sun block or wearing bucket hats or trying to find a spot at the top of the bleachers to find the ideal vantage point or frantically, but at the same time strategically, writing down notes while tweeting out observations of key plays.
Those days are behind us now. But before we completely move on and get into what the season will look like, it’s time to reflect and identify some of the standouts from 2023 Bears training camp.
Offensive MVP – DJ Moore
Lil Wayne’s “GO DJ” couldn’t be a more fitting song for DJ Moore’s first training camp with the Bears. Since Moore arrived in Chicago, all he has done has been a consistent playmaker for Justin Fields.
Regardless if Moore was lined up against Jaylon Johnson, Kyler Gordon, Tyrique Stevenson or against Kenny Moore in the Bears-Colts joint practices, Moore used his savvy route running and reliable hands to win those matchups and come away with receptions.
As camp progressed, it was just expected that Moore would create an explosive play at any moment throughout a practice. Simply put, Moore made things look easy. And that helped Moore create the connection he currently has with Fields.
Moore was easily the most consistent player in all of camp. It’s going to be fun to watch what Fields can do with a true No. 1 wide receiver.
Defensive MVP – Kyler Gordon
The Bears’ version of your friendly neighborhood “Spider-Man” is my defensive MVP. And that would be Kyler Gordon.
Before training camp started, I have been making the case that Gordon was in line to have a breakout 2023 season.
With Gordon playing primarily as the nickel, he is reading and understanding his keys more efficiently — which in turn is allowing the second-year cornerback to play fast and with physicality. Just think back to the first preseason game against the Titans and the two big hits Gordon delivered in that game.
He also has been sticky in coverage and making it difficult for wide receivers to create separation. Gordon has won plenty of his reps, including in 1-on-1s, which should be heavily favored for the offense.
Gordon has used his now signature celebration — shooting webs from his wrists — after he gets himself an interception. With the way he has performed in training camp, I have a strong feeling we are going to see “Kyler-Man” celebrate plenty of times throughout the regular season.
Biggest Surprise – Robert Tonyan
Robert Tonyan is a man of many names (Rob, Bobby and Robert), and after this training camp, he can add another one: red-zone target.
Regardless if Tonyan has been with Fields or even at times with P.J. Walker, the tight end has made plays and won his matchups in the red zone. Obviously, he is a tight end, but he runs routes and looks like a big wide receiver.
In Wednesday night’s practice against the Colts, Walker fired a pass in the middle of the end zone in Tonyan made a nice adjustment to complete the back shoulder grab for a touchdown. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound tight end has shown the ability to adjust his body and make plays using his soft hands.
The Bears didn’t have a capable pass-catching tight end to compliment Cole Kmet last season, but now they do with Tonyan. It will be fascinating to see how offensive coordinator Luke Getsy utilizes the tight ends in 2023.
Biggest Disappointment – P.J. Walker
This one was easy for me. It’s P.J. Walker.
When the Bears signed the veteran quarterback, I remember praising the move and saying, “I see why Ryan Poles made the move.” Now with training camp over, I haven’t had that line of thinking after any one of the practices, especially after the joint practices with the Colts.
Has Walker had some nice connections with pass catchers throughout camp? Sure. But the bad completely overshadows the good. There have been countless time when a deep ball has been nowhere near his intended receiver.
Also, if the defense is looking to get a resurgence of energy, Walker has constantly turned the ball over with costly interceptions.
This second preseason game against the Colts will be huge for him to solidify some confidence not only within the coaching staff but also Bears fans as well.
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