The first preseason game of the 2016 season is officially in the books for the Chicago Bears. While the result wan't pretty -- a 22-0 loss to the Denver Broncos -- there were still some positives the team can build on as the preseason progresses.
Most of those positives came from the team’s 2016 draft class, whose first test on an NFL field came against the defending Super Bowl champions.
“It’s the Broncos,” Leonard Floyd said. “It’s the defending champs. It’s going to be different.”
Chicago's first-round pick, Floyd was just happy to finally get on the field and show what he can do. He had to wait to get into the game, something that was new to the rookie out of Georgia.
“I wasn’t used to it,” Floyd said. “I just wasn’t used to waiting. I’m used to going out there. I was itching and ready to go.”
Floyd recorded two tackles in the game and even earned a few double teams from the Broncos, but there are still some improvements to be made.
“I think I had great hand placement,” Floyd said. “I have to be faster. We are going to look at it and see what I messed up on and correct it.”
Floyd spent time with the second unit along with fellow rookie draft picks Deiondre' Hall, Deon Bush and Jonathan Bullard.
Hall, a fourth-round pick out of Northern Iowa, came up with two big plays back-to-back early in the second quarter.
Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian targeted Hall twice on fade routes in the end zone. On both plays, Hall was able use his hands to break up the pass attempt and the Broncos had to settle for a field goal.
“I was surprised they tried it two-three times,” Hall said. “I just played my game and played through my hands. One of my key things for the week was don’t get beat deep. You never want to get beat deep and get scored on. Just playing through my technique and it ended up working out for the best.”
Hall showed that his long arms and knack for finding the ball are a big positive to his game. It was his first audition in game speed for the coaches and he surely made a great first impression.
Hall also played on special teams, including the opening kickoff. For rookies, contributing on special teams means extra playing time, creating another opportunity to make an impact and secure a roster spot.
“It was a crazy experience,” Hall said. “Opening kickoff, I got in on the very first play of the game. Emotions were running pretty high. I’m just blessed to get that opportunity.”
Hall finished with five tackles and two pass breakups.
As for rookie DL Jonathan Bullard, he figures to be a key part of the team's D-line rotation come the regular season. On Thursday night, he showed why the Bears might have a steal with the third-round pick.
Bullard played 30 snaps and recorded two tackles. One of those was a tackle for loss after he penetrated into the backfield quickly to disrupt the play.
The former Florida Gator appears have an advantage early, playing ahead of Ego Ferguson in the D-line rotation. Bullard showed tonight how valuable his quickness and up-field ability will be for the Bears going forward.
Joining Hall in the secondary was fellow rookie Deon Bush, who played on 55 of the Bears 63 defensive snaps - the most of any player on either side of the ball last night. Bush nearly had an interception on a deep pass from Siemian but the ball went right through his hands.
“I have a lot to learn from,” Bush said. “It’s a starting point and something I can build off of. Getting used to the game and the speed, just trying to learn everything. [The speed] was a little bit different but I didn’t think it was crazy or anything.”
Bush -- who finished the night with two defensive tackles and one special team tackle -- is currently working with the second team and could challenge for a starting safety spot if he continues to play at a high level.
While the end result wasn’t ideal for the Bears in the preseason opener, all they can do now is digest film and try to correct their mistakes next week against the Patriots. The good news is that there are three more weeks to fix those issues before the regular season opener in Houston.
“Just getting back to the basics,” Hall said. “Getting back into game speed. It was the first preseason game, so not necessarily going back to the drawing board but getting into the film room and getting the corrections made that are needed.”