Kicking competition between Eddy Pineiro and Elliott Fry set to resume Friday night in MetLife Stadium
It's Week 2 of the 2019 NFL preseason, which has the Chicago Bears taking on the New York Giants on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. ET on NFL Network. This is the point of the preseason where the reps have started to add up for some players, veterans are polishing their skills, rookies are continuing to get acclimated to life in the NFL, and coaches are slowly heading into game-planning mode.
Both teams had interesting preseason openers last week. The Bears showed flashes of continued greatness (especially with their younger players) in a 23-13 loss to the Carolina Panthers, while the Giants held their stadium roommates in the Jets to just seven second-half points in a 31-22 win. Of course in the preseason, there are other factors at play and are probably more important than the outcome of the game itself. For the Giants, fans want to see more of first-round pick Daniel Jones after his performance last week (more on that in a moment), while Bears fans can't wait to see David Mongtomery again, and the Bears' kicking competition continues.
Here are five things to watch Friday night when the action unfolds in MetLife Stadium.
1. David Montgomery gets the ball again
After scoring the Bears' only touchdown last week (and totaling 46 yards from scrimmage), Bears fans want more from the rookie out of Iowa State. And with the starters expected to see limited snaps as they did last week, Montgomery will definitely get more reps. Aside from getting adjusted to the speed and physicality of the NFL, Montgomery must also show his knowledge of head coach Matt Nagy's extensive playbook. Kickoff can't come soon enough for excited Bears fans.
2. Kicking duel continues
Rookie Elliott Fry and second-year man Eddy Pineiro continue to battle it out while the front office debates on whether or not to bring in a more proven placekicker. Fry converted his only field goal attempt (a 43-yarder) against the Panthers last week and provided the extra point on Montgomery's six-yard touchdown run. Pineiro went 1-of-2 on his attempts, with his successful kick coming from 23 yards out in the fourth quarter. Those were the Bears' final points of the night. This position battle has gotten more attention than it probably should, but again the Bears are trying to avoid a repeat of last season.
3. Bears defense vs. Daniel Jones
The Giants rookie quarterback was one of the bigger stories to emerge from the first week of preseason action. As the Bears were taking on the Panthers, Jones (this year's sixth overall draft pick) completed all five of his passes against the New York Jets for 67 yards and a touchdown. Jones displayed the strong arm and accuracy that guided the Duke Blue Devils to back-to-back winning seasons in 2017 and '18 (15-11 record), and consecutive bowl game victories. He finished last week's game with a passer rating of 158.3 and averaged 13 yards per completion.
Jones didn't take a single sack last week while the Giants as a team only gave up one sack for the entire game. Whichever defensive unit lines up against the Giants will be tested once Jones lines up under center. The Bears, however, did pick up three sacks against Carolina so they have that working for them.
4. Will we see more of Kerrith Whyte Jr. and Ian Bunting?
Both rookies took full advantage of their playing time last week. Whyte, a seventh-round draft selection, and Bunting, an undrafted free agent, made their presence felt as they hope to show enough to earn one of the final roster spots. Whyte was the Bears' leading rusher last week with 35 yards on six carries. His longest run was 23 yards and he averaged nearly six yards per carry.
Bunting was the Bears' leading receiver with three grabs for 77 yards. His 45-yard reception in the second quarter led to Fry's 43-yard field goal. Bunting's performances may have come as somewhat of a surprise given his lack of production (29 catches over three seasons) in college. Both should get more opportunities to impress on Friday night.
5. Bears' injury concerns
Tight end Trey Burton (recovery from sports hernia surgery), wide receiver Anthony Miller (ankle), outside linebacker Aaron Lynch (shoulder), and offensive lineman Cody Whitehair (hand) are all listed as questionable for Friday's game. Burton didn't play against Carolina and has been limited in practices as he's been working on his conditioning after missing the offseason program due to the hernia surgery. Miller sprained his ankle in the Bears' first practice after the Panthers game, and Whitehair jammed his finger in practice earlier this week but the team says the injury isn't serious. Lynch injured his shoulder in practice on Tuesday but the often-injured pass rusher has already missed game action as he didn't play against Carolina. As far as these injuries go we'll just have to wait and see if these players are able to take the field.
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.
(Top photo courtesy of www.chicagobears.com)