Overview: Our beloved Chicago Bears welcome the Jacksonville Jaguars to the windy city this week. Since both clubs missed the playoffs last season and feature a number of new faces this year, this should be an interesting matchup to watch. While the Bears look to get their defense back on track with several key offseason acquisitions, most of the attention for the Jaguars will be on the offensive side of the ball. Specifically 3rd overall pick Blake Bortles and the young group of receivers he has to work with.
Injuries: Starting running back Toby Gerhart and number one wide receiver Cecil Shorts headline the list of Jaguars injuries this week. Gerhart will look to see his first live game action as a Jag this week and, as an avid fantasy football player with several leagues that have yet to draft, I’m eager to see if he can show that he can be a featured back. On the other hand, Shorts is unlikely to play this week after injuring his hamstring in the first practice of the offseason and is looking to return for an August 22 matchup against the Detroit Lions.
Offensive line injuries are the story of the week for the Bears, as they seem to be dropping like flies. Starting right tackle Jordan Mills and top interior backup Brian de la Puente are my top concerns. De la Puente suffered a grade 2 MCL sprain in the preseason opener, but it sounds like he’ll be fine for the regular season so this should be a good opportunity for younger players to show their wares. As for Mills, I’m not one for overreaction but being seen in a walking boot is never a good sign. Any setbacks regarding his surgically repaired foot could be catastrophic for the Bears’ hopes this season.
Players to Watch:Blake Bortles definitely tops my list of players to watch for the Jaguars. I’d say he had a mixed bag in his first outing. The numbers were solid and he made some really nice throws, but there were some rookie mistakes and at least one ball that I thought should have been intercepted. With Cecil Shorts injured and Justin Blackmon suspended indefinitely, we should get a good look at rookie wide receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson. A lot of the Jags’ future success hinges on at least one of those two players working out, so keep your eyes peeled.
Continued development from the defense is what I’ll be looking for most from the Bears in this one. I’d like to see some of the younger players make an impact. Keep an eye on the offensive line as well. The Jaguars’ defensive front made mincemeat of Tampa Bay’s offense last week, and while it might have more to do with the Bucs being inept, look for Jay Cutler to get pulled early if it gets ugly.
The Way I See It:I’m not going to make predictions for a preseason game, but I would like to see a little more from the Bears this week. Improvement is what the preseason is all about, but as long as they get out of this game without injuries I wont complain.
Who are you guys going to be watching in this one? Let me know in the comments section.