Welcome back to football season Bears fans! That’s right, tomorrow night will officially start Chicago Bears football again in the Windy City and not a moment too soon. I feel like I haven’t watched a football game in forever and the Bears will be hosting the Kansas City Chiefs at home in Soldier Field tomorrow night.
Of course my excitement is curbed by reality of this being an exhibition game. We’ll like only see a quarter or half tops of good football and then the remainder of the game will feature the players fighting for a roster spot. The third and fourth string players certainly play with plenty of heart but they run around the field with a wild disregard that makes you wonder if they really know what play was just called in the huddle.
For the Chicago Bears, the preseason holds an important test for several positions on the field. A season cannot be made or lost in a single preseason game, but tomorrow night’s contest certainly holds the futures and opinions of my players in the balance. Without further delay, here are my players to watch tomorrow night.
First Round Bench Warmers
The Bears and Chiefs have a lot invested in the success of their first round picks, all of whom will not be dressing tomorrow. Bears first round pick, and hopeful for left tackle of the future, Chris Williams will not be playing due to a lingering back injury. He has missed significant practice time and is now reaching the point where coaches should be concerned if he will be ready for the actual season. Without Williams playing left tackle the Bears will be starting the season with a weak offensive line. The Chiefs will also be playing without their first rounders, Glenn Dorsey and Branden Albert. Both players need to get healthy and contribute to help the Chiefs rebuilding process begin.
Matt Forte Show
The Bears signed free agent running back Kevin Jones to help in the backfield but Jones is still coming back from his injury. He is almost ready to put on pads and get his first taste of game action but for tomorrow, it will be the Matt Forte show. There is no understatement in saying all eyes will be on his every move and touch of the ball. He should get about ten touches before being pulled for Adrian Peterson, but he needs to show some of the flashes coaches have been telling us about. Fans may extend a learning curve to the rookie, but I think everyone will feel better on Friday if Forte can show he can run the ball in the NFL.
Wide Receiver Madness
The Bears have a LOT of receivers to choose from and players need to stand out or find themselves at the bottom of a deep depth chart. Bears quarterbacks can throw to Marty Booker, Devin Hester, Brandon Lloyd, Rashied Davis, Mike Hass, Marcus Monk, Earl Bennett, Brandon Rideau, and Ryan Grice-Mullen. Every day I read articles from reporters at training camp and every day they seem to have a new favorite at the receiver position. The Bears appear committed to Booker, Hester, Lloyd and Davis as their starting four for the upcoming season. The remaining players will have to come up with big plays to earn a place among the top. Fan favorite Mike Hass is known for making spectacular catches but coaches are afraid he’s too slow to put him on the field. Little has been said about rookie draft picks Bennett and Monk so any contribution will help get their names in the running.
I’ve been talking all summer until blue in the face about the importance of the Bears to solidify the offensive line. First round pick and left tackle Chris Williams is out indefinately with back pain and Olin Kreutz missed practice time with injuries early in camp. More recently there have been troubles with the guard position and the Bears may be forced to start Josh Beekman. No one really knows if Beekman is good or bad because coaches have never opted to use him. Even last season when the offensive line was terrible, Beekman dressed but was never put into a game. That’s not a good sign for things to come. I for one will be watching Beekman to see if he can step up with this opportunity.
QB Coin Flip
Coach Lovie Smith didn’t rely on a coin flip to make his decision this time, but he did continue to flip. Kyle Orton will be the starter of tomorrow’s game and Rex Grossman will the starter for next week’s game. Grossman and Orton have been very close throughout training camp and game situations could prove to be the final test. Grossman has always given the Bears the better chance to win, but his failure to maintain his composure and mechanics have proven disasterous. If Orton shows he can stand in the pocket he may move ahead in the competition.
Defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek is considered a possible key player for the defense at tackle but can’t seem to stay healthy. For the third year in a row he has been injured and will force the Bears to find a new tackle to play alongside Tommie Harris. Rookie Marcus Harrison was ranked by many teams as a possible first round pick but passed on him because of character issues. Reports indicate he has been a model citizen in training camp and he may get a lot of activity tomorrow night. At the present moment he appears to be the best candidate for surprise draft pick if he can deliver.
Nick Roach is a second year linebacker with the team that is getting a lot of attention. He recently moved up the depth chart ahead of Rod Wilson as backup middle linebacker to Brian Urlacher. I thougth highly enough of Wilson that I suggested last season the Bears should let Lance Briggs go and start him this season. If Roach is even better he may prove to be valuable addition to the defense. If he can make a big play Roach may see more significant playing time.
Topics: Brandon Albert, Brandon Lloyd, Brandon Rideau, Brian Urlacher, Chicago Bears, Chris Williams, Devin Hester, Dusty Dvoracek, Earl Bennett, Glenn Dorsey, Josh Beekman, Kansas City Chiefs, Kevin Jones, Kyle Orton, Lance Briggs, Lovie Smith, Marcus Harrison, Marcus Monk, Marty Booker, Matt Forte, Mike Hass, Nick Roach, Olin Kreutz, Rashied Davis, Rex Grossman, Rod Wilson, Ryan Grice-Mullen, Soldier Field, Tommie Harris