Good morning, frents!
Bears training camp officially starts today.
Players are set to show up at Halas Hall for meetings and bro hugs with the first practice scheduled for Wednesday. The first game comes Saturday, August 14 against Miami at Soldier Field.
You don't need a newsletter to tell you what training camp storyline is going to take up all the oxygen over the next month and a half.
And while the Justin Fields-Andy Dalton horse race will be fun to watch — even if Matt Nagy already says he knows the outcome — there are plenty of other Bears running sprints and hitting sleds who hold the key to the team's long-team success.
Here are 10 (or so) I'm looking forward to watching in 2021:
- OL Teven Jenkins: Our wait for a bulldog on the offensive line hasn't been as long as the one for a franchise quarterback, but it's still been a minute. The Bears will likely ask more of Jenkins in 2021 than they will Fields and his move to left tackle won't come without its share of bumps. How will the rookie from Oklahoma State handle it?
- WR Darnell Mooney: The fifth-round pick raised his expectations by catching 61 passes for 631 yards and four touchdowns in his rookie campaign. Can he take the next jump to a no-doubt No. 2 with a better quarterback throwing him footballs?
- S Eddie Jackson: There are few better things to have as a football fan than a swaggering safety on your team and we've missed that from E-Jax the past few years. Getting Jackson back in form is at the top of new DC Sean Desai's to-do list.
- OL James Daniels, RB Tarik Cohen and DT Eddie Goldman: We'll just count this trio as one entry. All three players missed significant time in 2020 and their returns hold a lot of potential. After a quiet year in free agency, these guys can end up being found money.
- RB David Montgomery: He's entering his third season after totaling 1,508 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2020 behind an offensive line that had its share of problems. A more stable unit in 2021 should see Montgomery push both numbers higher.
- LB Roquan Smith: Watching Roquan blossom into a sideline-to-sideline wrecking ball and second-team All-Pro was one of the few consistent pleasures in 2020.
- CB Kindle Vildor: After the departure of Kyle Fuller, there's going to be a lot of pressure on the two second-year cornerbacks. We know Jaylon Johnson can do the job, but can Vildor?
- TE Cole Kmet: It took a bit for the local guy to get going last season, but his flashes down the stretch showed that the hype is real.
- OL Sam Mustipher: No one has "fan favorite" written on him quite like the undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame. His starts at center were a late-season bright spot and sticking there in 2021 will make a world of difference for James Daniels and Cody Whitehair.
- LB Khalil Mack and WR Allen Robinson: Everyone I've listed before this are still working toward the top of their games. These two are already there. While there are a lot of ups and downs associated with being a Bears fans, watching these two every Sunday remains a reason to keep tuning in.
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News and results
Cubs 6, Reds 5: 'Stache shipped to A's
Who had Andrew Chafin hailing the first cab to O'Hare this week? The Cubs traded the Obvious Shirts enthusiast to the A's, who are actually pretty good wtith relievers but might be a bit thin when it comes to cult heroes. The Cubs are reportedly getting 26-year-old minor league outfielder Greg Deichman back in the Monday night deal.
Chafin had an excellent season with the Cubs after signing a one-year deal in the offseason. He was part of the combined no-hitter in the Los Angeles and there stands a decent chance that the other 75 percent of that effort — Zach Davies, Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel — could also be ex-Cubs by the end of the week.
- The Cubs scored a run in each of the last three innings and Javy Baez hit a pinch-hit, bases loaded single to literally walk it off against Amir Garrett. Kimbrel struck out three straight in the top of the ninth to sweeten his appeal that much more.
Next: Adbert Alzolay (4-10, 4.58) vs. Vladimir Gutierrez (4-3, 4.97)
Royals 4, Sox 3: 0-for-Eloy
No storybook return here. Eloy Jimenez went 0-for-4 with one strikeout in his 2021 debut as the Sox reached the 100-game mark with a 59-41 record. They've dropped five of their last eight.
- Is anyone happier about the seasons that Carlos Rodon and Lance Lynn are having than Dallas Keuchel? The former Cy Young winner gave up three homers — including a pair to Jorge Soler — to lift his season total to 17.
Next: Dylan Cease (7-6, 4.21) vs. Brad Keller (7-9, 5.84)
Which pitcher gave up 522 home runs over the course of his career, the most in MLB history?
- Elias Schuster with a deep dive on how a returning Derrick Rose might fit with these Bulls. Bleacher Nation
- Justin Fields already has a higher Madden rating than Mitch Trubisky. Progress? Windy City Gridiron
- Congrats to Matt Rodewald, former Chicago media stalwart and friend of the newsletter, on his big career change. Shaw Local
- Talen Horton-Tucker is back in town, holding his first-ever basketball camp for Chicago kids. Block Club Chicago
- The Trib's new food critic comes out strong against the Top Chef winner restaurant where reservations are almost impossible to come by. Tribune
Trivia answer: Jamie Moyer