LAKE FOREST – With so many new players on the team for 2022, the release of the Bears’ depth chart took on a little more importance this summer and fall.
Who would end up getting the nod to start at a few open positions on a wide-open roster under new general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus?
A few of those questions were answered on Tuesday when the Bears released their first regular season depth chart ahead of their season opener against the 49ers on Sunday.
Curious fans looked to the offensive line first since so many wondered how it would shake out, and it ended up being a little different than many would have expected when training camp began.
Lucas Patrick will lineup at center with veteran Cody Whitehair at left guard as expected, but younger players make up the rest of the offensive line. Second year lineman Teven Jenkins, who was out for part of training camp with an undisclosed injury and was the subject of trade rumors, ended up winning the right guard job with fellow 2021 draft pick Larry Borom getting the nod at right tackle.
Rookie and fifth round pick Braxton Jones wrapped up his impressive preseason by winning the left tackle job with veteran Riley Reiff backing him up. Recently signed lineman Alex Leatherwood, who was cut by the Raiders just a year after drafting him in the first round, will back up Borom at tackle while Ja’Tyre Carter will back up Jenkins at guard.
Equanimeous St. Brown is listed as the starter opposite Darnell Mooney at wide receiver in his first year with the team, with Byron Pringle (St. Brown) and Velus Jones Jr. (Mooney) listed as the primary back-ups.
On defense, the front seven takes on a whole new look with only Robert Quinn (DE) and Roquan Smith (LB) returning as starters from 2021. Justin Jones and Angelo Blackson are the starting tackles, backed up by the recently signed Armon Watts, with Al-Quadin Muhammad beating out Trevis Gipson for the end spot opposite of Quinn.
Nicholas Morrow and Matthew Adams, both in their first year with the Bears, make up the starting linebacker group along with Smith, who enters his fifth season with the Bears.
As many expected even as early as the weekend they were drafted in the second round, rookie safety Jaquan Brisker and rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon have earned starting spots alongside incumbents Eddie Jackson and Jaylon Johnson.
As for special teams, second year running back Khalil Herbert is listed as the primary kick returner with Jones handling punt returns. Punter Trenton Gill will also be the primary holder for kicker Cairo Santos.