In 24 hours the Bears will unofficially start the 2013 season. They begin the preseason portion of their schedule in Charlotte against the Carolina Panthers tomorrow night. While wins and losses don’t really matter, how the team performs will matter. We will start to get an idea of how the team will look come September.
Here are some key positions to watch come kickoff tomorrow night:
Quarterback: Jay Cutler needs to show that he has improved and that he can run Marc Trestman’s complex offense. He will see limited action but all eyes will be on him when he takes the field.
Josh McCown needs to show that he belongs in the NFL and that he can be dependable if called upon. While Matt Blanchard needs to show that he deserves a roster spot.
Running Back: Pay attention to both Armando Allen and Michael Ford as they battle for the third spot on the regular season depth chart. Ford has been performing at a very high rate since the rookie minicamp in May. If Allen does not step his game up, he could be gone before the preseason even ends.
Wide Receiver: With Earl Bennett on the injured list, the rest of the group behind Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery needs to make their presence felt. Pay special attention to Joe Anderson and Devin Aromashodu.
Tight End: After Martellus Bennett and Leonard Pope, the rest of the bunch is a toss up. While it will be important to see how Pope has learned the offense with less than a week of practice, the rest of the group will be battling for the final spot or two on the depth chart.
Offensive Line: Jonathan Scott is doubtful while Jermon Bushrod is questionable. J’Marcus Webb and Eben Britton will be the most probable starting offensive tackles. Expect for the Bears to also get a good look at Jordan Mills and Cory Brandon.
It will also be interesting to see who gets the starting nod at right guard between James Brown and Kyle Long.
The battle between Corey Wootton and Shea McCellin will take center stage tomorrow night. Both men are fighting to start across from Julius Peppers this coming season. The battle between the reserves will also be one to watch as the Bears will only keep a total of eight or nine pass rushers when the calender switches to September.
Linebacker: Rookie Jon Bostic will start at middle linebacker in place of the injured D.J. Williams. This will be his chance to prove that he can be a starter in the NFL. It would also be wise to pay attention to rookie Khaseem Greene as he will push James Anderson for the starting nod at weak side linebacker.
Defensive Backs: Isaiah Frey’s skills will be put to the test as he steps in for the injured Kelvin Hayden. He will mostly be used as the nickel back but he may also be the primary corner on the second team defense as well.
Outside of Major Wright and Chris Conte, the Bears have six other safeties to scout. Craig Steltz is looking to keep his roster spot which he’s had since 2007, while veteran Tom Zibikowski is also worth looking at.
Special Teams: It’s unknown how many return chances Devin Hester will get, but you may also see Michael Ford and Eric Weems bring a couple kicks back as well. There will also be a good competition between punters Adam Podlesh and Tress Way.
Kickoff will be just after 7pm tomorrow night on Fox 32 and WBBM-AM 780. Follow me on Twitter @GabeSalgado82