Over the first two weeks of the preseason we have started to see the 2014 Bears roster take shape, we have seen different story lines emerge, injuries have started to become a factor, and problem areas have started to reveal themselves.
In week 3 we will see the closes thing to a real game, with real Bears players playing significant time. What better place than one of the more difficult stadiums in the NFL to play in.
These are the players I will be focusing on in this game.
1. OT Michael Ola and OT Charles Leno
I have been pleasantly surprised by both, considering I had little in the way of expectations for an UDFA from Canada and a 7th round pick. Both have showed that they may have something more than career backup, or swing tackle in their skill set.
Why is this important?
When Jordan Mills foot injury was initially reported I preached patience. Big man, foot injury, do not rush him back and let him heal. As his absence has gone from days to weeks my concern has grown as well. I am beginning to worry that Mills may not be able to be counted on for a 16 game season. There is clearly lingering issues with his foot.
If Ola or Leno can hold up in Seattle against a physical and talented pass rush I will feel much better about our tackle depth in the instance that we will be missing Mills when it counts.
2. S Chris Conte
If the first two preseason games have made one thing clear to me it is that the Bears have 1 safety I trust to be where he should be and that is Ryan Mundy, after that no one has stood out. Chris Conte makes his long awaited return to the field this week and he has a list. I hope that he can make everyone on his list, me included, eat our words and he can EARN the starting FS job.
There is no arguing the miserable year that Conte had last season, but he is still more talented than Danny McCray, who has been starting in his place.
We need a reasonable version of Conte to pair with Mundy and give the Bears a competent safety pairing.
3. WR Chris Williams and KR Darius Reynaud
The Bears return game has been BRUTAL. It costs Eric Weems his job, Michael Ford has all but been lost, and now it has forced the Bears to sign a professional returner. It appeared that the Bears wanted to move away from the professional returner who only returns kicks, hence goodbye Devin “I am the Jordan of returns” Hester.
Chris Williams is being counted on by many to be the returner, but he has been injured and has been unable to calm concerns at the position.
I will be watching to see if Williams can play and how he does on returns and I will also be watching to see if Reynaud can make enough of a impact to force an offensive or defensive player off the team.
4. LB Jon Bostic
My son is 6 months old. He is going to grow up in a world where the Bears have an awesome offense and terrible LB play, let that sink in for a minute. Father and son will never be able to bond over Devin Hester as a #1 WR and Brian Urlacher as the best LB in the NFL.
The Bears need someone to step up at LB and the best candidate at this point is Jon Bostic.
Bostic was terrible against the Eagles, was really good against the Jaguars, and while improvement is great, lack of consistency is a huge problem for the Bears defense. If Bostic can step up then the Bears have a decent LB group
What better test for Bostic than a physical running attack, with big backs and a mobile QB to test a young LB.
Side Note: Yes, I gave up on McClellin long before this charade of moving him to LB.
5. RB Senorise Perry
Every time I watch the Bears preseason games this guy is making plays. Nice runner, solid receiver, and dynamic in the open field.
The problem is that I also see a pretty full depth chart at RB with Forte, Shaun Draughn, and Ka’Deem Carey. Those 3 are locks to make the team, Draughn as the veteran back up who runs hard and can spell in short yardage. Carey as the 4th round pick with a ton of potential and flashes in week 2 with next to no blocking. So where does Perry fit in?
If the Bears are willing to keep a strictly KR on the roster why not a 4th RB that can return kicks? I would love to see Perry get some time returning to see if we can sneak him onto the roster in that role.
6. DT Will Sutton and NT Ego Ferguson
Neither has stood out to this point in the preseason, which is fine as they are rookies. However, the Bears are going to obviously keep both of them on the active roster taking 2 roster spots at DT that means they are going to have to play a role this season.
Both have shown flashes of the unique physical traits that made them high draft picks, but they have been flashes and they have been mixed with running into each other on stunts, standing up and looking for the play, and too much time on the ground.
Both will play a lot in week 3 against a very physical OL. I am looking to see more physical play from Ferguson against the run like we saw in week 1 of the preseason. From Sutton I would like to see him get off the ball better, stop thinking as much, and allow his physical tools to take over and get him into the backfield.
Big week for the rookies.