Bears

Chicago Bears preseason notes: 1 possession speaks volumes for TE Cole Kmet

Chicago Bears tight end Cole Kmet tries to avoid a tackle by Seattle Seahawks linebacker Joel Dublanko during the first half Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022, in Seattle.

The Bears starting offense looked unimpressive last weekend in a preseason win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Justin Fields and the starters failed to score a point on three possessions.

They were without a key piece, however. Tight end Cole Kmet sat out that game with an undisclosed injury. He made his return in the Bears’ 27-11 preseason win over the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night, and his presence was felt from the start.

The Bears’ starting offense played only one possession Thursday at Lumen Field in Seattle, but Fields targeted Kmet on each of the first two plays. The 23-year-old tight end from Lake Barrington caught two passes for 31 yards, including a 19-yard gain to bring the offense into scoring range. The drive ended with a 35-yard field goal by kicker Cairo Santos.

Kmet is going to be a huge part of this Bears offense under coordinator Luke Getsy. That much was apparent Thursday night. He is the clear No. 2 option in the passing game behind receiver Darnell Mooney.

“Cole’s a great tight end,” Fields said after the game. “He can do, pretty much, it all. He can block. He’s a great route runner. He has great hands. So he definitely brings another weapon to our offense, for sure.”

The Bears are putting an increased emphasis on the run game, and with that comes better opportunities in the play-action passing game. That’s exactly what happened on Kmet’s 19-yard gain, which came on a play-action roll out from Fields. Kmet leaked across the middle and found a hole in the defense.

Last week against the Chiefs, Fields didn’t have that big-bodied outlet. He did Thursday, and it led to a scoring drive. The possession wasn’t perfect for the offense, the protection could’ve been better for Fields, but it was a step in the right direction.

Injury updates: Bears linebacker Matthew Adams left the game in the first quarter with a shoulder injury. Adams has been playing in Roquan Smith’s WILL linebacker spot during training camp. With Smith still sitting out as he awaits a new contract (he did travel with the team to Seattle), the Bears can’t really afford to lose linebackers right now.

Later in the game, backup linebacker Caleb Johnson left the game with a knee injury, adding to the injury woes at the position. Johnson is also a key special teams player.

Rookie running back Trestan Ebner left the game with an ankle injury.

Special teams highlights: Rookie receiver Velus Jones Jr. wowed everyone with a 48-yard punt return late in the first quarter. Jones was making his preseason debut after sitting out against Kansas City with an undisclosed injury.

Later, just before halftime, the Bears scored a special teams touchdown after Seahawks return man Cade Johnson fumbled a punt. Davontae Harris got a hand on the ball near the 5-yard line, and it ricocheted into the end zone, where rookie Elijah Hicks pounced on it for a touchdown.

The score gave the Bears a 17-0 lead at halftime.

Stalwart D: Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith played the entire first half of the game. Smith and the first-team offense failed to score. Seattle played without quarterback Drew Lock, who was previously set to start the game, after he tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Many of the Bears’ starting defenders played two possessions and forced two punts. Rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon, making his preseason debut, saw a little bit more playing time in the first half. Gordon missed the first preseason game with an undisclosed injury.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.