Kevin White never hit the playing field as he was battling a stress fracture in his shin. Alshon Jeffery played a couple series in the first preseason game before he hurt his calf in practice leading up to game 2. Marquess Wilson got into both games but injured his hamstring early in the first quarter last week. Finally, Eddie Royal injured his hip this week in practice. This leaves the Bears in a very dire situation going into the most important game of the preseason.
Wide reciever: Will definitely be interesting and painful to watch. If this was an actual game, Cincinnati would no doubt put 8 men in the box and shut the run down. They still might do it, because they don’t really have to worry about Marc Mariani, Joshua Bellamy, or really any other Bears WR this week. Which means, there is an opportunity for one of these lesser known wide receivers to make a name for themselves.
The running game: Last week the Bears had some success running the ball, but it came vs a Colts team that wasn’t the best at stopping the run last year. The Bengals are a little more stout up front, and they likely will be stacking the line since the Bears top 4 WR options are injured. If the Bears can run the ball well tonight, this will bode well for the 2015 season.
Front seven: Last week they looked pretty good vs the Colts. Pernell McPhee sacked and pressured Andrew Luck on back to back plays, forcing a 3 and out on their first possession. This week, DT Jeremiah Ratliff was handed a suspension for an incident back in 2013 and will miss the first 3 games of 2015. Focus will be on Eddie Goldman and how he looks as a potential replacement for Ratliff. Shea McClellin has been doing OK in camp and the first two games, his progress continues as the “captain” of the defense. It would be nice to see some other playmakers step up among the line and linebackers.
The defensive backfield: Antrel Rolle seems to be locked into one starting safety spot and rookie Adrian Amos has a lead on the other. Tim Jennings will either be the #2 corner or the nickle back. While 2nd year CB Kyle fuller is the #1 corner, he has been beat early and often in games and has had a tough camp so far. The Bengals have a stud WR in AJ Green, who is fast and long, with a wide catching radius. This will probably be the matchup of the week. It will also be interesting to see who gets the nickle spot if Jennings stays as the #2 corner. Sherrick McManis has looked good in camp and the 2 games. Terrence Mitchell made a highlight reel play, intercepting a ball from Andrew Luck last week. Hopefully he can build on that tonight.
Jay and the offensive line: Cutler has had a nice camp and has looked pretty solid in the two games so far. Tonight he will certainly be challenged with young/inexperienced receivers. It will be interesting to see if they lean on the tight ends and Matt Forte out of the backfield or if they will try to throw it to the unproven guys to see how they fare. The offensive line has been OK so far. The focus will be on the right tackle, either Jordan Mills or Charles Leno Jr., to see if one of them can hold down the spot.
Special teams has been pretty solid, especially in the kicking and punting phases. Kick coverage has been pretty decent as well. Marc Mariani looks like he locked up the return duties. Not the fastest guy around but he is solid and doesn’t seem to put the ball at risk.