The 2017 NFL preseason will come to a close on Thursday night as the Chicago Bears host the Cleveland Browns in their finale. The game means little to fans because a majority of starters will not play or will play just the first series before being shut down until September 10th.
This will be the last game before the Bears open up a 2017 season against the Atlanta Falcons, hoping to improve on their 3-13 record in 2016.
The Bears are starting the season with a new quarterback, so things are a bit uncertain on how well the team will play, that is why the analysts are predicting less than 6 wins for the Bears at the end of the regular season but things could change.
That’s especially true if some of these players breakout.
The game means the world to players playing for a roster spot as they see the majority of playing time and will treat it as their own playoff game.
The Bears have a few players that can solidify themselves on the roster with their performance Thursday night.
Gentry has been the biggest surprise of training camp as he has had arguably the best performance of any of the undrafted players that the Bears brought in.
He was able to carry his positive training camp reps over into the preseason games. Gentry is second in receiving yards and on Sunday showed his big play potential after hauling in a 45 yard touchdown from quarterback Mitchell Trubisky on a fly pattern.
With the season ending injury to Cameron Meredith, the Bears have a spot open at the position for a player like to Gentry.
Gentry is similar to Meredith as he has nice mix of size and speed as he measures at 6-foot-2 and has demonstrated the speed to go deep in two straight games.
The Bears will give him a lot of playing time on Thursday night to solidify his position on the team. A few catches and possibly a big play should help secure a position on the regular season roster.
The second-year undrafted defensive end has come on strong since the week two game against the Arizona Cardinals and followed it up against the Titans Sunday.
Against the Cardinals, Robertson Harris recorded back to back sacks on consecutive plays and had a nice tackle on a run play as well. He appeared to be in control of the line throughout the second half of the Cardinals game.
Robertson-Harris followed it up in Sunday’s game against the Titans with a blocked punt turned into a safety.
On Thursday against the Browns, Robertson-Harris should see extensive playing time and will need to make the most of the opportunity.
Unlike the wide receiver depth, The Bears are strongest with depth at the defensive line position. Robertson-Harris will be fighting for the last spot at the position and has shown value both on defense and special teams so far this pre-season.
If he has another solid performance he should make the 53-man roster or be seen as one of the first guys signed to the practice squad.
After being sidelined with an ankle injury for the majority of the pre-season, Langford saw his first game action against the Titans on Sunday and flashed in a few plays.
The Bears envisioned Langford as the number two running back behind Jordan Howard heading into training camp as he has value as a pass catching running back. The performances of Ka’Deem Carey and Benny Cunningham along with Langford’s inability to play this pre-season has put Langford’s spot with the Bears into question.
With Carey out with a wrist injury, Langford and Cunningham will see the majority of the carries in the first half and a good portion of the second half as well.
Langford was the Bears starting running back at the start of last season so he should have the inside edge at beating out Cunningham, but Cunningham provide special teams and return depth which Langford does not.
Keep an eye on who is in the backfield more as the more plays Langford can make both running the ball and catching the ball will be vital for him making the team.
For most people, the last preseason game is the last hurdle to the regular season, but to those playing the majority of the players seeing time Thursday, they are fighting for their NFL jobs.
The level of talent may not be great, but its important to watch because these are the guys that are signed when injuries take there toll on teams late in the season, and what they do in these games goes a long way for them.