The Chicago Bears will take on the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night at Soldier Field, but they won’t be allowing their stars into the party.
Neither starting quarterback Jay Cutler nor his backup Josh McCown will play in the game, and Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, and a slew of others will be listed as inactive.
Instead, the game will be played by a slew of back-ups who will be looking to sew up roster spots, and there are a couple of key players that fans should keep an eye on when the game kicks off at 7pm.
-This is J’Marcus Webb’s last chance to show the coaching staff that he should remain on the squad. He began training camp as a starter, but after a dismal showing against the Carolina Panthers and a seeming lack of effort early in camp, he was demoted to back-up left tackle.
He has stewed in that role, and has been assailed from all corners as not showing a sense of urgency despite his apparently precarious position on the Bears roster. This contest against the Browns may be a case of “too little, too late” for Webb, but it will be interesting to see if he goes full bore or is resigned to his fate.
-The game will also be an important one at the quarterback position despite not having either Cutler or McCown on the field. That’s because the Bears could potentially have a third quarterback slot on the roster up for grabs, and that means that Jordan Palmer and Trent Edwards will be duking it out for the role.
There is no guarantee that the Bears will carry three quarterbacks on the roster (especially if they don’t want to cut a guy like Michael Ford), but if they do, then Palmer and Edwards’ performances in this game will go a long way toward determining who gets the spot.
-Wide receivers Joe Anderson and Marquees Wilson are both going to be firmly planted in the spotlight tonight with Marshall and (likely) Alshon Jeffrey out of action, and that is a good thing for Bears fans eager to see the duo perform.
Both have looked fantastic during the preseason, and both could conceivably make an impact on the Bears’ opening week roster. It will be interesting to see how often the pair is targeted, and whether or not head coach Marc Trestman will open the playbook a bit to see them work through the offense.
-A player who has struggled quite a bit during the preseason will be looking for some redemption tonight, and that’s tight end Fendi Onobun.
Scouts have projected him to have a skillset similar to San Diego Chargers TE Antonio Gates, but during the preseason he has dropped a ton of passes, and generally has looked out of place in the Bears’ offensive scheme.
If he can rebound with a solid game, then he should be able to nail down a roster spot, but if he continues to struggle, then Coach Marc Trestman and the front office are going to have a difficult decision to make on a player with the potential to be a very solid complement to Martellus Bennett at the tight end position.