The Chicago Bears opened up the 2019 preseason against the Carolina Panthers this past Thursday night at Soldier Field. After last year's 12-4 campaign, which included a playoff appearance, Bears fans have been eager to see their team take the field for 2019. And while Thursday night ended in a 23-13 loss for the Bears, there were some positives to take from the exhibition. As we all know, wins and loss don't matter too much in August. Here are four observations from the Bears' preseason opener.
1. David Montgomery
The Iowa State product showed us flashes of why the Bears made him their top draft pick this season. He scored the Bears' only touchdown of the night (a six-yard run in the second quarter), and made plays as both a rusher and receiver. He had six total touches (three carries, three receptions) for 46 yards from scrimmage, and averaged five yards per play when he had the ball in his hand. Bears fans can't wait to see what Montgomery will do in the teams next preseason game against the New York Giants.
2. Kicking competition
The fans took plenty of interest in this aspect of the game for the Bears. Elliott Fry converted his only field goal attempt, which came from 43 yards in the second quarter. He also made his extra-point attempt after the Mongtomgery touchdown. Eddy Pineiro went 1-for-2 on field goals as he missed his first attempt from 48 yards late in the second quarter, but made a 23-yarder in the fourth quarter. Both men have had their share of hits and misses during practice so this competition isn't over yet.
3. Ian Bunting makes his presence felt
The undrafted tight end is certainly headed in the right direction as he fights for a roster spot. He was the Bears' leading receiver against Carolina with three catches for 77 yards, including a 45-yard reception on the scoring drive that ended with Fry's field goal. Bunting averaged 25.7 yards per catch and definitely made the most of his playing time. Which is something he'll need to do consistently, especially since he only caught 29 passes during his college career.
4. Kerrith Whyte Jr.
While most of the talk was about Montgomery after the game, Whyte quietly had his own solid debut. He was the Bears' leading rusher against the Panthers with 35 yards on six carries. The seventh-round draft pick from FAU is hoping to be the fourth running back on the roster come September, and this performance should only help his cause.
— 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)