Friday night is game 3 in the NFL preseason. If you follow football closely, you know this is the “dress rehearsal” for the regular season. Starters typically play the first half and start the 3rd quarter. It will vary how much they play after that. There have been a few roster moves since last week’s game. Let’s take a look at what has been going on.
The biggest news out of week 2 is that KR/PR Eric Weems has been cut and backup TE Zach Miller has been put on IR with a Lisfranc injury. Weems had the early lead in the Kick/Punt returning duties and literally fumbled it away. He seemed to have lost a step over what he had last season. Miller was showing flashes of what he could be as a pass catching Tight End in the Bears system. He probably would have got a lot of looks in a 2 TE sets and could have picked up some of the slack for injured WR Marquees Wilson. The Bears also picked up veteran WR Santana Holmes, who I think has a real interesting opportunity here in Chicago.
Jordan Palmer vs Jimmy Clausen: The backup QB battle has been one of the toughest competitions to gauge. Both QBs have looked good at times. I personally thought Palmer looked better when he went up vs 2nd string competition. Clausen probably has the better arm and is a little more mobile than Palmer. The key here is who will come out after Cutler is done on Friday. Whoever it is, will likely be the backup to start the season*. The other QB unfortunately, is likely to be cut.
Backup RB: Veteran RB Shaun Draughn is still firmly entrenched as the #2 RB behind Matt Forte. While Ka’Deem Carey has had a nice camp, he really hasn’t shown enough to take over the position. Michael Ford was on the team last season as the 3rd RB behind Michael Bush, but may be in danger of loosing his roster spot. Free Agent RB Senorise Perry has shown the ability to make some plays and looks like a decent receiver out of the backfield. Ford could have an opportunity to return kicks.
WR3: The battle for this spot has gotten more interesting with the above mentioned singing of Santana Holmes. Speedy Canadian football star, Chris Williams should be back to action and will be Holmes’ strongest competition. Holmes and Williams may also be competing for Punt Returner. Veteran WR Josh Morgan has had a good camp and been solid catching the ball in the first two games. At this point, he is a lock to make the team and will also get some looks at the 3rd WR spot.
The Offensive line: While they have been stellar in pass protection so far, giving up only 2 sacks in 77 pass attempts, the run game has looked bad at times. They will have a huge test going up vs one of the stingiest defenses in the league–especially in the Emerald City. The Bears will be game-planning a little for Seattle, so it will be neat to see what they do against one of the best defenses in the league.
The Defensive line: They have been the most consistent unit on this side of the ball. Looking, really good in week 1 and a little less stout in week 2. They will be tested early and often against the Seahawks power run game and mobile QB Russell Wilson. In addition to their starting rotation, it will be interesting to see what camp standout, DE Trevor Scott can do. He has gotten some nice pressure on opposing QBs so far.
Linebacker: 2nd year LBs Jon Bostic and Khaseem Green looked a little better in game two but need to show more consistency as does converted DE Shea McClellin. McClellin has made a little progress over game 1 and seems to be getting closer to becoming an NFL starter at Strongside LB.
Safety: Progress has been pretty steady in the battle for starting Safeties. It could get a little cloudier depending on if veteran Safety Chris Conte comes back and gets into form. Adrian Wilson has made a couple nice hits, but seems like a liability in pass coverage. Ryan Mundy and Danny McCray have probably been the two most reliable DBs in this unit so far.
Special Teams: They really need a good 4 quarter showing here on all phases. Kick coverage has been the strongest unit so far, really only having one blemish on it so far. WR Michael Spurlock will get a chance to return punts and possibly kicks, but he has been unreliable so far, fumbling and causing another turnover in his limited action. A healthy Chris Williams or newly signed Santana Holmes may be better options, but with the WR depth, might not be worth risking.
*Jordan Palmer has been named as Cutler’s first replacement