Kevin White’s quiet preseason ended on an unexpected high note on Thursday.
In somewhat of a surprise development, White, the Chicago Bears’ No. 2 wide receiver, played on the team’s opening three drives, catching four passes for 57 yards on four targets in Chicago’s 21-7 victory over the Cleveland Browns.
Prior to the preseason finale, White had been an afterthought in games against Denver, New England and Kansas City, but he quickly established a rhythm with quarterback Brian Hoyer, who zeroed in on White early and often.
White still has to prove he can perform when games matter, but his performance versus the Browns is a step in the right direction.
The 2015 seventh overall pick can’t just be an ordinary player. He must be great. White has a long way to go to reach that level, but at least for one night the Bears caught a glimpse of what he can achieve.
QB depth chart: Hoyer had a successful homecoming. The former Cleveland quarterback completed 12 of 16 passes for 112 yards before David Fales relieved him. Quite frankly, Hoyer should dominate in the fourth preseason game. The veteran had some shaky moments in the preseason, but he finished strong. Given Jay Cutler’s history, Hoyer may play a role in 2016 before it’s all said and done. His effort on Thursday should ease some of the concerns around town.
Maybe that player could start: Rookie Jonathan Bullard is a repeat winner here. It’s only a matter of time for Bullard, who had a productive sequence in Cleveland with a tackle for loss and a solo stop in run support. Bullard’s quick first step off the ball is noticeable every week.
A surprise player who impressed: Fourth-round pick cornerback Deiondre' Hall is a work in progress, but he is not afraid to compete. Hall batted away two balls in the end zone on Thursday, the latest in a string the rookie has been credited with in the preseason. Jacoby Glenn (interception) may open the year in the starting lineup, but with all the uncertainty in the secondary (Kyle Fuller, Tracy Porter, Bryce Callahan), Hall is bound to contribute at some juncture. Running back Jordan Howard, another rookie, also had a strong second half and finished with 140 total yards and a touchdown.
Professional debut: Another fourth-rounder, West Virginia linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, played in his first preseason game after a hamstring strain sidelined him most of the summer. Kwiatkoski’s availability is a good sign. The Bears surely want to keep the fourth-round pick, whom they moved up to draft, on the 53-man roster. Kwiatkoski projects to be a solid special-teamer, and given how the third phase struggled last year, the Bears need all the help they can get.
Decisions: Like the rest of the NFL, the Bears have to trim the roster to 53 by Saturday. But the biggest decision involves pass-rusher Pernell McPhee, who spent all preseason on the physically unable to perform list. If McPhee moves to the regular-season PUP list he has to miss a minimum six weeks. McPhee has been limited to only side work since he underwent an offseason knee procedure.