Riley Ridley, receiver
The fourth-round pick from Georgia returned to practice Aug. 5 after missing a week-and-a-half of training camp with a hamstring injury. Ridley was held out of the preseason opener but likely will see his first game action against the Giants.
In his final season at Georgia last year, Ridley established career highs with 14 games played, 43 catches, 559 yards and nine touchdowns. The Bears like the 6-1, 200-pounder’s size, hands and route-running ability.
“I love throwing to Riley,” said quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. “He’s very savvy. He can run the whole route tree. We can put him in a lot of different spots, and as a rookie and in his first year in this offense he picked it up really quickly. You can tell he’s got a high football IQ. He studies a lot.
“He’s very competitive. He wants it really bad. And you love to see that as a quarterback. He’s going to be in the right spot at the right time. He gets out of his cuts. And he’s just smooth. I just want to put it up in his area and let him go do it and I’m proud of the way he’s picked up this playbook really quickly.”
Coward joined the Bears in 2017 as an undrafted free agent from Old Dominion. After appearing in one game as a defensive lineman in 2017, he was moved to offensive tackle in 2018 but did not play in a regular-season game.
Coward is expected to see expanded playing time against the Giants. A strong performance could greatly enhance his chances of earning a spot on the 53-man roster as a valuable reserve.
Josh Woods, linebacker
Woods has studied tape of Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher and others who successfully switched from college safety to NFL linebacker and hopes to make the same transition.
Woods played safety at Maryland but was moved to linebacker after joining the Bears last year as an undrafted free agent. He spent last season on the Bears practice squad and hopes to earn a roster spot as a reserve on defense and special-teams contributor.
“I feel a lot better just all around when it comes to playing linebacker,” Woods said. “At this time last year, I felt like it was a whirlwind, and now the game’s starting to slow down for me. I feel like everything in my game has taken a step up because last year wasn’t good enough.”
Woods showed his play-making ability in the preseason opener. He recorded five tackles and generated a takeaway with a hard hit on running back Elijah Holyfield, causing a fumble that linebacker James Vaughters recovered.
Kevin Toliver II, cornerback
Battling for a roster spot on a deep and talented defense, Toliver should see expanded playing time against the Giants after missing the preseason opener with an illness.
Toliver showed promise as a rookie last year after signing with the Bears as an undrafted free agent from LSU. After being inactive for the season opener in Green Bay, he appeared in the Bears’ final 15 games in addition to their wild-card loss to the Eagles. He registered 15 tackles and two pass breakups.
Toliver made his only start of the season in place of the injured Prince Amukamara last Sept. 30 and led the Bears with seven tackles in a 48-10 rout of the Buccaneers.
“I’m a lot more comfortable,” Toliver said about entering his second NFL season. “Just being out there having a start last year in one game and replacing Prince or Kyle [Fuller] whenever they go down, I feel good, I feel comfortable.”