The Chicago Bears will unofficially start their 2017 season on Thursday as they host the Denver Broncos in their first pre-season game.
After two weeks of practicing against one another in training camp, the Bears will finally be able to face off against another opponent in live game action. Many players have made headlines throughout Bears training camp, but there will be a select few to keep an eye during the game.
With the recent controversy surrounding wide receiver Kevin White, it will be interesting to see how the Bears coaching staff decides to use him in the first game. Questions about White’s confidence were brought into question with a remark made by the Bears wide receivers coach Zack Azzanni.
White is also coming off a second severe leg injury that cost him his sophomore season in the league. With controversy and return from injury, it will intriguing to see how many targets White gets on offense either to see what condition he is in returning from injury and to see if the Bears want to use the game reps to build his confidence.
White won’t be the only other Bear returning after missing a majority of last season due to injury as it will be outside linebacker Lamarr Houston’s first game back since tearing his ACL back in Week two against the Eagles.
Houston is currently ranked third on the Bears depth chart behind Willie Young and Pernell Mcphee who is currently on the PUP list.
His position on the depth chart comes as a surprise as Houston was the Bears leader in sacks in 2015 with eight, and with the uncertainty of Mcphee’s health, Houston would be a viable replacement at the position if healthy.
It will important not only to see how many snaps Houston gets while in on defense but also what his speed will be at coming off his second ACL tear in the last three season.
The game will mark the in-game debut of the Bears second overall draft pick quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
Trubisky’s progress transitioning from college to the NFL has been subject to heavy speculation as he has issues fumbling snaps under center during training camp. Trubisky’s play during the preseason is important as the Bears would prefer to have him not see any regular season in-game action until late in the season.
Fans will want to keep an eye on how many pass plays the Bears call for Trubisky and how he responds to the pressure of his NFL debut in front of the home crowd that will be highly excited to see him.
The final outcome and stats rarely matter in the first preseason game, but the amount of reps and how players are used does as it sets the tone for the remainder of the preseason schedule.
After the game against the Broncos, the Bears will be on the road for their second game to play the Arizona Cardinals on August 19th where the starters will most likely see action into the second quarter.
For the players listed above, their performances will matter more to the coaching staff to determine how they are used in the second pre-season game.