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NextImg:Bears vs. Packers — What to Watch 4

KEY MATCHUP

Bears rookie right tackle Darnell Wright has looked the part of 10th overall pick in the draft throughout training camp but had just seven snaps in the preseason — all in the opener against the Bills. He’ll face a key test in his NFL debut vs. Packers outside linebacker Rashan Gary and whatever Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry throws at him. 

“They’re going to throw their fastball at him,” coach Matt Eberflus said, “and he’s gotta be able to do his thing … setting in pass pro, being aggressive but under control in the run game, being able to work with the guy next to him. I”m excited to see him play.” 

Wright figures to make rookie mistakes, but in a critical year for Justin Fields, the Bears are counting on him playing at a high level from the start. Gary, who had 9.5 sacks in 2021 and six sacks in eight full games last season, is coming off a torn ACL in Week 9 last season and could be limited in Week 1. The Packers still have veteran Preston Smith to test the rookie, plus any other surprises Barry might come up with. 

TRENDING

The Packers have won the last eight games against the Bears — and 13 of the last 14, 23 of the last 26. In fact, the Packer are 48-14 against the Bears since 1992. Most of that damage was done by all-time great quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers (25-5) and Brett Favre (22-9). This time the Bears will face Jordan Love, with Rodgers traded to the Jets.

Love, a first-round draft pick in 2020 (26th overall) making his second NFL start, will be only the second Packers quarterback besides Brett Hundley (1-0) in 2017 to start against the Bears since 1992.

PLAYER TO WATCH 

The Bears didn’t give Justin Fields a lot of offensive support last season and it showed — Field was the best running quarterback in the NFL last year (1,143 yards, eight touchdowns), but was last in passing (149.5 yards per game). 

This year the Bears fortified their offense to give Fields a better chance to prove he can play quarterback. The addition of wide receiver DJ Moore in particular has already given Fields a missing element — a go-to receiver he can count on in tight spots. 

Protection obviously is key — Fields was sacked 55 times last season. But the Fields-Moore connection seems like the biggest key to Fields and the Bears’ offense taking the next step. 

X-FACTOR

The Bears didn’t work as a complete unit very much in training camp on either side of the ball because of injuries and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue’s Aug. 8 arrival. It remains to be seen how quickly the Bears come together on offense and defense in Week 1.