The Chicago Bears will be in Denver Saturday night to play the Broncos for their third preseason game of 2018. Both the offensive and defensive starters are expected to see more playing time as they are expected to play the entire first quarter and possibly a good portion of the second quarter also.
This will be first extended look at head coach Matt Nagy’s offense and a possible glimpse of the team’s first round pick in linebacker Roquan Smith. Here are the three Bears to watch for against the Broncos:
Wide receiver Allen Robinson is expected to make his Bears debut Saturday and it will be his first game back since tearing his ACL in the first quarter of week one last season. Robinson was the Bears prize free agent signing in the off-season to provide quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with a true number one wide receiver. The biggest question in regards to the signing was the health of his knee and whether he would be the same high-level player.
The biggest thing to keep an eye on when Robinson is on the field is his speed and ability to cut in his routes. He is expected to only see a series or two when he plays. A big catch doesn’t need to be made, but Robinson just needs to show the same athletic ability he had before the injury. For the Bears passing offense to be utmost successful this season they will need their number one wide receiver to be a full strength.
The seventh overall selection in this year’s draft ending his holdout this past Monday and has practiced with the team the entire week including both joint scrimmages against the Broncos. It is unlikely that Smith plays in Saturday’s game, but if he does he will most like see a series or two with the defensive second unit.
His conditioning level and speed will be the two main points of emphasis if he sees playing time. The Bears will not want to overexert him in his debut especially playing in the thin air of Denver. Smith’s holdout was controversial because it was more about contractual language rather than money. If he makes a flash play against the Broncos, all of the angst against him in regards to the hold will be quickly forgotten.
Starting Offensive Line
There were many intriguing stories following the Bears offensive line this week whether it was center Cody Whitehair’s struggles with shotgun snaps or the impressive play of rookie guard James Daniels.
Whitehair had a bad snap against the Bengals last week and continued to have clean snaps to Trubisky during practice this week. Daniels may see time with the starting offensive line due to his solid play in extended time against the Bengals.
The Broncos defense will be an extremely good test for the team in protecting Trubisky. Denver’s defense prides itself on being good and they will come out strong after not playing well last week against the Minnesota Vikings.
Tackles Charles Leno Jr. and Bobby Massie will have tough battles against linebacker Von Miller and rookie defensive end Bradley Chubb along with the rest of Denver’s pass rush. The main goal for the Bears this season is to have success through Trubisky, but that will not happen if his tackles and guards can’t protect him