“He’s been great,” second-year left tackle Braxton Jones said after practice on August 9. “He really wants to learn, and be the best tackle he can possibly be. And he’s been great. I’ve seen him do things that just not a lot of guys can do.”
Last season, left tackle Jones was in Wright’s spot. He came in unheralded as a fifth-round pick only to start every game. Jones was the only Bears lineman to start every game last season. And he was one of just two to appear in all 17 games. The other was center Sam Mustipher who signed with the Baltimore Ravens in free agency.
Braxton Jones Weighs In on Bears’ First-Round Pick
Braxton Jones: Darnell Wright ‘Really Wants to Learn’
Wright enters with a higher pedigree than Jones as a first-round pick (No. 10 overall), and that means heightened expectations. Bears quarterback Justin Fields was sacked 55 times last season, tied for the most in the league. And, if Jones was a pillar of dependability on the left side, the right side of the offensive line was in flux for most of the year.
Wright, along with free agent signing Nate Davis, should sure up that right side.
Found our Mr. Wright 🧡 pic.twitter.com/ZdcYWW33oV
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) April 28, 2023
Training camp has been a bit of an up-and-down experience for Wright as he adjusts to the NFL game as a rookie.
“I think he’s just you know going through the growing pains of keeping his head out of things – and I’m talking about in a rush or so – kind of leaning and stuff,” Jones continued. “But that’s the thing that a lot of rookies can go through. But he’s just you know been coming up to me talking about that thing.”
Wright was open about picking Jones’ brain.
“I’ve been talked to him a lot. I’ve been in his ear more than probably he wants,” Wright said after practice on July 28. “He’s definitely been a big mentor for me just to bring me along and show me some things like mistakes he made and stuff.
Jones was open about his struggles as a rookie, particularly with things like the bull rush or not using his hands, and he sees a lot of similarities with what Wright has experienced.
“You can literally watch some of the same struggles that he maybe is going through right now, and you can go back and watch it on tape that I have those same struggles,” Jones noted. “I’m just trying to help him and get it fixed up now so he doesn’t even have those problems in the season. So that’s kind of what those conversations are like.
“But I mean he’s been great. The kid is…a first-rounder for a reason. So he’s been great.”
The Task at Hand
This is just the first preseason game, and the Titans will have assistant head coach Terrell Williams as acting head coach for the night. We also don’t know how much any of the starters that suit up will play or who they will even have active with 100% certainty.
Tennessee ranked 18th in pressure rate last season and tied for the ninth-fewest sacks. But they also ranked seventh in total pressures.
None of that is likely to matter on Saturday with vanilla game planning likely on both sides.
— 3HL (@3HL1045) August 8, 2023
But it will be the first test for the Bears’ new bookends and a small preview of what’s to come for a revamped offensive line and roster whose players have talked all offseason about a new vibe in the building.