The Chicago Bears will finally hit the field on Thursday night against an actual opponent when they welcome the Denver Broncos to Soldier Field, and as their preseason begins, there are plenty of players looking to make an impact as they jockey for roster positions.
Which of those players are worth paying the most attention to? We’ve picked our five players to watch on Thursday night as the Bears look to get their preseason off to a quality start.
Bullard, the Bears’ third round pick, is currently listed as a back-up defensive end for the Bears, but if he can put up some good performances in the preseason, then it wouldn’t be hard to see Vic Fangio giving the rookie more reps off the edge.
The Bears have been looking to shore up their pass rush for several seasons now, and Bullard is a potential game-changer in that area. He won’t have to deal with the litany of blocking schemes and hand-fighting that offensive linemen will deploy during the regular season, but it will still be interesting to see whether his burst off the snap and his ability to maneuver through tight quarters are still present at the professional level.
The Bears’ cornerback position is one of the few question marks facing their defense, and Callahan could potentially play a big role for the Bears. With Tracy Porter and Kyle Fuller serving as the probable starters, Callahan will have to make an impact in the slot and occasionally on the edge if he’s going to be a key member of the secondary, and that process starts on Thursday night.
Listed as the fourth-string running back on the depth chart, the rookie running back is going to be looking to show that he deserves some work out of the backfield when the regular season begins.
Jeremy Langford is the starter as of right now, but with his performances in training camp and the game tape that he put up while at Indiana, Howard has the potential to poach carries both from him and from Ka’Deem Carey, and his physical style could prove to be very effective when paired with the monstrous blocking duo up the middle of the field as Kyle Long and Cody Whitehair look to provide running room for their teammates between the tackles.
Lauded as a big-legged kicker when he was drafted by the Bears, O’Donnell has been a disappointment for the most part during his tenure. Inconsistent distances, inconsistent directional kicking, and an overall lack of quality performance have all contributed to the Bears’ special team woes, and O’Donnell has to take a big step forward if he’s going to retain his job through the preseason and into the regular season for the Bears.
A preview of the first Bears game of the preseason wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that White is looking to make his first appearance as a member of the team after missing the entire 2015 season with a shin injury.
Granted, White is going to see limited action and may not even get targeted while he’s on the field, but just seeing the receiver put on a helmet and pads and running routes is going to be a big step forward for Bears fans, and it will be interesting to see how he reacts when going up against an opponent at the professional level.