Tonight, the Bears play their first preseason game vs. the Eagles at home in Soldier Field. The Bears have had a fairly eventful training camp so far and with many offseason changes, the preseason games will more meaningful than in years past.
In honor of our favorite #6, here are 6 Things to Watch for in tonight’s preseason opener
1. Shea McClellin – Shea McClellin was drafted in the 1st round in 2012 to play defensive end. Besides his game against the Packers last year, he has been a disappointment. This offseason, Shea transitioned from defensive end to linebacker where he is currently listed a starter at. He has all the physical traits to play linebacker, but can he put it all together while fighting off undrafted free agent rookie, Christian Jones?
2. Jimmy Clausen vs. Jordan Palmer – The battle for Jay Cutler’s backup is between Jimmy Clausen and Jordan Palmer. Palmer was the backup last year while Josh McCown was the starter, but was never needed. Jimmy Clausen was a 2nd round draft pick in 2010, but struggled as the starter in Carolina. Palmer has had some minor injuries this offseason and Clausen has done fairly well in his short time with quarterback guru, Marc Trestman.
3. Defensive Line – What a difference a year makes. Like wide receivers in 2012, when Phil Emery brought in Brandon and Alshon Jeffery, and the offensive line in 2013, when Emery added Bushrod, Slauson, Long, Mills, and Bennett at tight end, this year’s offseason focus was on the defensive line. In 2013, the Bears defense gave up the most rushing yards in the NFL. Corey Wootton, Shea McClellin, Julius Peppers, & Henry Melton are no longer there. The Bears brought in Lamarr Houston, Willie Young, and Jared Allen at defensive ends and then added rookies Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton to go with Stephen Paea, Nate Collins, and Jeremiah Ratliff at defensive tackle. All of these players should give the Bears some much needed talent and depth along with a very dangerous rotation.
4. Jonathan Bostic vs. DJ Williams – This is a battle that I expect to go all the way until the 3rd preseason game. Bostic and Williams are currently listed as co-starters at the position that one thinks about when they think of Chicago Bear Greats, Middle Linebacker. Bostic will likely be there during nickel packages, but can he play all 3 downs? Can Williams stay healthy for the year and has he recovered from his previous injuries?
5. #3 WR – or the WRs not named Marshall or Jeffery. This position was handed to Marquess Wilson when the Bears released Earl Bennett. Wilson spent all offseason training with Marshall and Jeffery in South Florida, but broke his collarbone earlier this week and will likely be out for the start of the season. There are a few guys looking to take his spot, such as, Chris Williams, Eric Weems, and Josh Morgan. Who will step up to be the #3 receiver or will the Bears have to sign a free agent like Santonio Holmes or Earl Bennett?
6. Martellus Bennett – Will Martellus Bennett be suited up on the field tonight? Bennett was fined and suspended indefinitely after body slamming this year’s 1st round pick, Kyle Fuller in practice. In his interviews following the incident, he wasn’t exactly apologetic about it either. Bennett had 65 catches last year, for 759 yards, and 5 touchdowns and is a big part of the Bears’ offense. There isn’t much depth behind him either, so it will be interesting to see if he is back on the field tonight.