(670 The Score) The Bears concluded their preseason mostly healthy and having made some important strides.
The preseason came to an end with the Bears earning a 27-24 victory over the Titans on Saturday in Tennessee. Rookie quarterback Justin Fields impressed once again, while some players made final impressions ahead of roster cutdowns Tuesday.
Here are four takeaways from the Bears' preseason.
1. Fields of Dreams
Yes, there were times when Fields looked like a rookie during training camp and preseason action. But he passed every test thrown at him to this point and has proved himself ready to start, whenever that time comes.
Fields finished 30-of-49 for 276 passing yards and two touchdowns in the preseason, adding 11 carries for 92 rushing yards and one touchdown on the ground. He displayed poise and precision throughout and dazzled with his opportunity.
Fields capped his preseason with a beautiful touchdown strike late in the first half Saturday night, rolling out to his right and hitting tight end Jesper Horsted in stride.
One could have excused Fields if he struggled this past month, as he was forced to deal with a makeshift offensive line and reserve parts on the Bears' second-team offense. Instead, he elevated everybody around him when leading the offense.
Fields is still adapting to aspects of the NFL speed and mastering the Bears' offense, which are natural adjustments for a rookie quarterback. But his talent has shined through during practices at Halas Hall and snaps on the preseason stage.
The Bears are planning to open the regular season Sept. 12 with veteran Andy Dalton starting at quarterback. It's not clear when Chicago will see Fields play his first meaningful snaps.
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Whenever the time comes, Fields showed this preseason that he's ready.
2. Concerns down the line?
This past Monday, the Bears broke the huddle with their starting offensive line for the first time this preseason.
Veteran Jason Peters, a nine-time Pro Bowler, has been tasked with bringing the Bears stability at left tackle. Right guard James Daniels, who missed most of training camp with a quad injury, was working in a limited role. So too is right tackle Germain Ifedi, who suffered a hip flexor injury during a conditioning test in July.
Getting a healthy offensive line is only part of the equation for the Bears. Now, their offense has to hope the line holds up. That wasn't the case in 2020, when Chicago's protection unit struggled until late November. Center Sam Mustipher helped bring continuity to the offensive line late in the season, while Cody Whitehair proved to be better at left guard while yielding to Mustipher at center.
The Bears' interior offensive line may be much improved from last season, but there are significant questions at tackle. While Alex Bars offers quality depth, the Bears are lacking strong options if they suffer injuries.
The Bears' offensive line could be a major concern in 2021, just as it was last season.
3. Key takeaways
When veteran linebacker Danny Trevathan hauled in an interception during the preseason finale Saturday, he and members of the Bears' defense ran toward their sideline.
Trevathan and the Bears were searching for their blue takeaways bucket, which they use to celebrate after forcing a turnover. Though it was just an exhibition game against the Titans' reserves -- much like it had been practice reps against a second-team offense in camp in Lake Forest -- the Bears have been coveting the football defensively.
Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai has placed an added emphasis on the importance of takeaways, which is why he introduced the celebratory turnovers bucket to the defense.
The Bears had two interceptions in their preseason finale, with cornerback Tre Roberson adding a pick-six off a pass deflected at the line of scrimmage by second-year pass rusher Trevis Gipson.
The Bears know what consistently forcing takeaways will do for their hopes in 2021. Prioritizing it in practice is part of creating a new emphasis.
4. Some standouts
The Bears have roles to fill at tight end before trimming their roster to 53 on Tuesday. And Jesper Horsted may have secured a spot.
Horsted had five receptions for 103 yards and three touchdowns Saturday, making a strong case to stick on the Bears' roster heading into the regular season. He wasn't alone in impressing this preseason.
Veteran receiver Rodney Adams was a standout as well, likely positioning himself for a spot on the depth chart. While Adams will need to prove himself on special teams -- a key aspect for almost any player on the fringe of a roster -- he has shown value at receiver.
Gipson, a fifth-round pick of the Bears in 2020, displayed significant improvement during training camp and the preseason, including in the first half Saturday when he deflected a pass from Titans quarterback Logan Woodside and created a pick-six for Roberson.
As the Bears wonder how they will round out their defensive backs depth, five-year veteran cornerback Marqui Christian helped solidify his case Saturday. He was active around the football with seven tackles against the Titans.
The Bears must cut their roster to 53 by 3 p.m. CT Tuesday.
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.