Now that Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman has announced that he won't be playing the majority of the team's starters in the final preseason game, it's time for the young players to show what they've got. Here's a list of players Bears fans should be watching Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns.
Rookie right tackle Jordan Mills and rookie right guard Kyle Long:
Both youngsters have been outstanding manning the right side of the Bears' offensive line so far this preseason. The duo has improved with each game, culminating with a dominating performance last week in Oakland. Quarterback Jay Cutler dropped back 21 times, and was sacked… zero… times. That's front page news in Chicagoland. But maybe more impressive was their work in the run game. Matt Forte was able to generate more than 12-yards-per-carry, and also prove effective catching passes in the flat.
With J'Marcus Webb now seemingly on the roster bubble, there's no doubt Mills is in line to start the opener, and Long seems to have cemented his status as well. The question is, how much will Mills and Long play in the finale? Trestman told the Chicago Sun Times:
"I haven't made a decision on whether we want to get them more work or not, but they did very well [against the Raiders]. I am not going to hide from the fact that they did very well last week and have continued to improve. I'm just not ready to go the distance on exactly what we are going to do as we move forward here."
Trestman must balance the benefits of keeping his young starters healthy, with getting the rookies valuable game experience.
Best guess: Both players see limited action
Rookie middle linebacker Jon Bostic:
What's true for Mills and Long, you can add Bostic to that list. You couldn't ask for much more from the rookie, who has been "filling in" with the starters while veteran D.J. Williams has recovered from injury. Bostic led the Bears with eight tackles, including one for a loss, against the Raiders. However, Trestman has kept his status a little closer to the vest:
"He has started in the last couple of games and I think he can be a very good player in this league…. if he happens to be the guy who is that guy on Game 1 or Game 2 or whatever it is, I think he can grow into the position and be more than a sufficient middle linebacker in this league."
Best guess: sees fairly significant playing time
Will the Bears keep three quarterbacks?
Josh McCown may not have been impressive this preseason, but he's locked in as the team's backup quarterback. But what the Bears do with the remaining three QB's on the roster… now that's up for debate.
The Bears reportedly came to an injury settlement with Matt Blanchard on Tuesday, opening the doors for both Jordan Palmer and Trent Edwards, If the team is concerned about keeping Cutler and McCown healthy, either Palmer or Edwards has a chance to stick.
Both players are expected to see plenty of game action against the Browns. Palmer completed his lone pass last week at Oakland, but Edwards didn't get a snap.
Best guess: Both Palmer and Edwards play extensive time, but the Bears elect to carry just two quarterbacks into the regular season.
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