The 2018 NFL preseason is coming to an end, thankfully. For the first time in what feels like forever, the Chicago Bears are healthy heading into week one. It’s obvious that rookie head coach Matt Nagy made the right decision to sit his starters in last Saturday’s game.
Ask the Jacksonville Jaguars if it was worth playing their starters. The team lost it’s No. 1 wide receiver in Marqise Lee for the year because of a knee injury he suffered during a preseason contest.
Thursday night will be the battle of second and third stringers. The Buffalo Bills will come to Soldier Field in what will be both team’s final preseason game. Believe it or not, there are some things to watch for.
1st Down: Who will win the starting left guard battle?
“At left guard, we have to decide which way we want to go with that.”
That’s what Nagy had to say about the left guard position on Tuesday afternoon. Clearly, they are not set on who will start at the position. Early on, the favorite was veteran Eric Kush. However, he has seen some regression in his overall play.
Rookie James Daniels started off shaky but is pushing for that starting job. Most of us would like to see Daniels the starter at center – though it appears the Bears are set with Cody Whitehair starting the year at that position.
Nagy also noted that offensive line coach Harry Hiestand will have “valuable input” on who starts week one vs. the Green Bay Packers. We can expect both Daniels and Kush to see a decent amount of time on Thursday night.
As a veteran, Kush may have the upper hand, but Daniels will sure make the decision tough if he shows out against the Bills.
2nd Down: Tyler Bray will start and play the entire game
There will be no Mitch Trubisky or Chase Daniel on Thursday night. Instead, Tyler Bray will start and play the entire game against the Bills. It will be Bray’s first start since the 2016 Kansas City Chiefs preseason finale.
This preseason, Bray has completed 41-68 passes for 472 yards and one touchdown.
Daniel was sharp vs. the Chiefs. The Bears are making a wise choice by holding him out. Injuries happen often in the NFL – having a strong backup QB is a must. Just ask the Philadelphia Eagles who won a Super Bowl with their backup QB.
At this point, there is no way to sugar coat it. Isaiah Irving and Kasim Edebali have been impressive at the edge rusher position, Kylie Fitts not so much. Those three players should see a lot of action on Thursday as they are battling for two roster spots.
It’s hard to see Fitts making the roster over Irving and Edebali. However, none of these players are safe considering the Bears can make some moves this weekend when other teams make their own final cuts.
Pace could also improve this unit via a trade.
4th Down: Final Thoughts/Prediction
The last preseason game of the year is always a snooze fest. To make things more interesting it’s important to watch for different position battles – like the one going on at left guard. Hopefully, the Bears continue to stay healthy as well.
Overall, the Bills roster is rough, so I’ll take the Bears in this one.
Bears 23 Bills 13
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