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After a long few weeks at training camp, it was great to see the Chicago Bears in action for the first time this season as they opened the preseason with a 19-14 win over the Chiefs on Saturday.
With a 90-man roster full of players jockeying for position on the depth chart and fighting to make the team, who took advantage of their opportunity on Saturday at Soldier Field?
Here are five Chicago Bears who stood out …
1. Jaquan Brisker
This one may not be a surprise because Jaquan Brisker has been the talk of training camp. Heck, take it one step further and you may know Brisker has been turning heads practically since he walked into the building.
Question: How quickly can the rookie safety make his presence felt in game action?
Answer: About one quarter.
Brisker finished the game with four total tackles, including one tackle for loss, and a pass breakup.
However, what made Brisker stand out above the rest was the fact that he personally took over on the second-to-last defensive series of the first half. It started when he assisted DeAndre Houston-Carson on a tackle by coming in and delivering a big hit. He followed that up by crashing downhill and making a tackle on Derrick Gore for a two-yard loss.
Brisker then ended the drive with a near-interception on third down where he dove in front of receiver Noah Gray and got his hands on the ball. He just couldn’t hang on.
For the rookie to have such a dominant series in his first-ever professional game, it’s hard to think anything other than the fact that Brisker is the “real deal.”
2. Jack Sanborn
The first time I noticed Jack Sanborn was when he failed to down a punt near the goal line early in the game, but the undrafted rookie linebacker quickly made fans forget that.
It started on the first drive of the second half. Sanborn was in perfect coverage on J. Franks on third down and was able to make a play on the ball and come down with an interception that set the Bears up inside the Chiefs’ 30.
Due to that big-time play, the Bears were able to capitalize on the great field position and come away with its first touchdown of the game.
A couple of series later, Sanborn was at the right place at the right time to recover a fumble — this time giving the Bears’ offense the ball inside the red zone.
Sanborn’s presence was also felt in both kick and punt coverage where he was able to come away with multiple special teams tackles.
Ending the day with a fumble recovery and interception, Sanborn’s stock has substantially increased.
He looked the part.
3. Tajae Sharpe
Heading into the game, I was looking for a wide receiver to step up. Isaiah Coulter was that guy in practice this week, but it was Tajae Sharpe who seized the moment.
He caught both of his targets for 44 yards. He first hauled in perhaps the catch of the day when he caught a Justin Fields’ pass on third down along the sideline with one hand.
Sharpe followed that highlight by catching another deep ball. This one came off the hand of Trevor Siemian. Sharpe had to go up to haul in this pass.
This is the definition of making the most of your opportunities. Sharpe only saw those two targets, neither was going to be an easy catch, but he was able to come down with both.
4. Trestan Ebner
Another rookie to highlight as Trestan Ebner had himself a few bright moments throughout the game. Not only did he end up leading the team in rushing yards with 31 on six carries, but he also made his presence felt as a receiver.
Ebner scored the first touchdown of the game for the Bears off an angle route out of the backfield. This route tends to put backs in a good position to come down with the catch, and Ebner delivered with the 12-yard score.
Sprinkle in the fact that Khalil Herbert had two drops, and Ebner’s reception stands out even more.
He finished the day with 96 total yards when you include the 53 yards he had on two kickoff returns.
Entering his rookie season, Ebner was known for being a triple-threat and a player who can make his presence felt on the ground, through the air and as a returner.
That was fully evident on Saturday.
5. Trenton Gill
Hey, look! It’s another rookie to highlight. Trenton Gill put on a punting clinic in his professional debut.
Gill showed off his power. That’s all fine and dandy. But what stood out from Gill was his ball placement and knack for pinning the Chiefs deep all game long.
He had three punts that had Kansas City starting inside its own 20. There would have been another one too if Sanborn was able to get in position in time to stop it near the goal line before it bounced into the end zone for a touchback.
Gill had punts that would stop dead in their tracks inside the 10. He also finished the game with a great punt that angled out of bounds at the three yard line, giving the returner no chance.
He also partook on kickoff and booted the ball about four yards into the end zone.
All in all, a solid day for the rookie punter.
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