After an offseason full of changes in the front office and an overhaul of the roster, the Chicago Bears hope to get the regular season off to a flying start when they take on the Green Bay Packers in a Week 1 matchup at Soldier Field.
Before the two teams take the field, we have a group of five players that fans need to keep an eye on as the Bears kick off John Fox’s tenure as head coach.
With Jeremiah Ratliff out because of a three-game suspension, Goldman suddenly becomes a crucial part of Vic Fangio’s new look 3-4 defense. The team will likely run a good number of 4-3 looks on the defensive front without Ratliff in the fold, but when they switch back to their primary look, Goldman will need to step up in a big way at the nose tackle spot in order to ensure their success against a talented Green Bay offense.
During the preseason, Gould had some serious issues in terms of making kicks and scoring points in the special teams unit, and the Bears will need him to bounce back from those struggles with a strong opening game. Gould is the longest-tenured Bears player, and with the team in the midst of a transition on both sides of the ball, he will need to prove some continuity on special teams in order for the team to be successful.
We have targeted McClellin as a player to watch throughout the preseason, and with the regular season beginning, we want to keep the bullseye on him. McClellin will be a key contributor to the offense as they make the switch to a 3-4 system, and if he can fill in gaps and accurately call out assignments for his teammates, then the Bears should at least have a shot to slow down the Green Bay offense Sunday.
With Kevin White out of the lineup and Alshon Jeffery potentially limited because of a calf injury, Royal’s role with the Bears becomes even more crucial. Aside from his usual responsibilities as a slot receiver, Royal will be looked to as a secondary receiving option among the wide receivers on the roster, and it will be up to him to not only clear some space for the other pass catchers in the lineup (namely Jeffery, Matt Forte, and Martellus Bennett), but also to give Jay Cutler another weapon to target in the receiving game.
With some offensive line shuffling happening ahead of the first game of the season, and with Jermon Bushrod either limited or completely out of the lineup at left tackle, Slauson becomes an even more important part of the offensive line at left guard. Slauson is a player that the Bears have felt like they can build around, and if he can prove them correct with a strong effort on the blocking side of things, then Chicago should have a good chance to win.