The Bears head down to Tennessee for the “all-important” third preseason game. This is considered the most important game because the team tries to treat this game a little more like a regular season game. There a little bit of game planning and most starters will play into the start of the third quarter. Many regulars won’t play or play very sparingly in the last preseason game, so this is your last chance to see many of the big name guys.
Here’s what I’ll be watching:
Improvement on the Defensive Line
Someone besides Julius Peppers needs to step up on the defensive front. While we’ve been heaping praise on Henry Melton, Amobi Okoye and Izzy Idonije, it’s time for someone to step it up and turn some heads. The Bears took a flier on Vernon Gholston, but he’ll need to have a strong couple of games to ensure a roster spot.
Offensive Line Can’t Afford a Step Back
The post-game buzz after the first preseason game was all about how awful the offensive line looked against the Bills, giving up 9 sacks. In their Preseason Week 2 game against the NY Giants, they took a big step forward, allowing Jay Cutler time and actually not totally sucking. They were far from the finished product, but there was a glimmer of hope that the offense might be able to function. The line cannot afford to take a step back – they need to continue to grow together and show improvement. Keep an eye on left tackle J’Marcus Webb and right guard Lance Louis, the two youngest on the line and in most jeopardy of losing their jobs.
Jay Cutler + Roy Williams
Jay makes his return to Tennessee, where he played college ball for Vanderbilt. Roy Williams returns to the starting lineup, possibly for the last time if he can’t catch the damn ball. He’s been put on notice and Johnny Knox is breathing down his neck to get more playing time. If Roy wants to be the supposed #1 wide receiver, this is the game where he needs to prove his doubters and critics (this one in particular) wrong.
Dave Toub’s special teams unit had an awful night last week against the Giants, failing in pretty much all phases. Toub always has his guys prepared, so I expect a bounceback performance.
Some guys you won’t see are Lance Briggs, Sam Hurd, Corey Wooten and Anthony Adams. They’ve all already been ruled out. Zack Bowman returns to action after missing last week with a concussion. He’s battling for time in the secondary behind Tim Jennings and needs a good game to secure a roster spot.
Not a Big Bubble
A lot of the bubble guys won’t get a lot of time since the starters will be playing past halftime, so a lot of the guys playing for their professional lives will have to wait until September 1st to try to clinch a job. If you’re really into following some of the bubble guys and undrafted free agents, watch special teams. If these guys want to make the team, they’ll need to prove their worth by contributing on special teams.
Chris Johnson continues his holdout while seeking to be among the highest paid players in the league. Seeing how this has dragged out, it makes me appreciate Matt Forte a little bit more.
I will be on tape delay for this game, so my post-game wrap probably won’t be coming until Sunday night or early Monday morning. Feel free to post your comments to our Open Thread.