The preseason is about to wrap up for the Chicago Bears, but before they finalize their roster for the regular season, they have a matchup with the Cleveland Browns.
The Bears will take on the Browns this Saturday night in their preseason finale, starting at 6:00 PM CT. With one final preseason game, the starters have a chance for a rhythm, the bubble players have one last chance to earn a roster spot, and the team can go for an undefeated record before the real games begin.
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With starters capable of playing well in the second quarter, according to coach Matt Eberflus, it seems every healthy player will be on the field at some point Saturday night. This gives fans plenty to look at throughout the game. Here are 10 players we’re keeping an eye on when the Bears take the field one last time before the regular season begins.
Through two preseason games, quarterback Justin Fields has attempted just 14 passes while playing limited snaps. That should change with the extended playing time the starters will get, allowing him to get into a rhythm with his receivers and offensive line. Plus, it would be nice to see him exorcise some demons in Cleveland after what happened in his debut last year.
One offensive starter who hasn’t seen a single snap this preseason is running back David Montgomery. The team’s RB1 is dealing with an undisclosed injury, but all signs point to him playing in this final game. He should see a handful of carries, but what will be more interesting is how active he is in the passing game. Running back Khalil Herbert has struggled with both the catches and the Blitz pickups serving as the starter in his absence. Having someone like Montgomery back will improve both areas of the offense.
Many of the Bears’ wide receivers have been hot this week and are not expected to suit up for playing time next season. One receiver who has remained healthy is Equanimeous St. Brown, though he hasn’t caught a pass yet this preseason. However, St. Brown has been active offensively in blocking and running backs. Seeing him build chemistry with Fields in a game setting would be ideal before the regular season, but it needs to happen now.
Tackle/guard Teven Jenkins has been a player to watch throughout the preseason given his fluctuating status on the line, but now comes his final test to see if he’s fit to start Week 1 on the right guard. Jenkins impressed in his debut last week against the Seattle Seahawks, but now faces a stronger defensive front in Cleveland. It will also be important to note whether he is in the starting lineup or not, and if so, how long he plays.
Like Jenkins, Jones has had eyes on him since training camp began and he has performed well as the starting left tackle. However, he is not counting his chickens before they hatch, and is still focused on the next game. Jones knows full well that he can go up against star pass rushers Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney and must keep Fields upright. It’s the perfect final test for him before facing the San Francisco 49ers.
Much of the offensive line talk this preseason has centered around the likes of Jenkins, Jones, Larry Borom, Michael Schofield, etc. But let’s not forget one of the rookies who has looked good in the latter part of games and that is Zachary Thomas. San Diego State’s outside guard has helped open up running lanes and keep backup quarterbacks on their toes in previous preseason games. Let’s see if he can continue the trend in Cleveland.
One of the more under-the-radar backs for the Bears has been defensive end Sam Kamara. The second-year player has made quite an impact this preseason and showed up last week against the Seahawks. Kamara had two tackles, including one for a loss and a sack while playing with the reserves. He’s completely on the roster bubble, and another impact game could be the push he needs to make the team.
After a long and public hiatus regarding his contract situation, linebacker Roquan Smith returned to practice last weekend and will make his preseason debut against the Browns. Smith has drawn rave reviews since returning to the practice field and the hope is that that will translate into this weekend’s game. Smith may need to shake off some rust, but it’s good to have him back before the regular season begins.
Rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon had a mixed performance in his debut against the Seahawks last week. While he showed great range and speed, both in coverage and in the backfield, there were some tackle struggles that allowed for big accomplishments. Now that he’s gotten a taste of the NFL, let’s see him elevate his game against the Browns to build confidence in Week 1.