The Bears started training camp on July 27th and now only 12 days later they will take the field against the Philadelphia Eagles in game one of the NFL preseason.
A lot has changed since Marc Trestman's first season ended in a disappointing 8-8 campaign, but the arrow is pointing up for his group.
The preseason doesn't give you the same excitement as the regular season that's for sure, but there is plenty to pay attention; especially in these first two games at Soldier Field.
Here are five things to keep an eye on against the Eagles on Friday night.
1. Cornerback depth
Veteran starters Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman won't see the field for very long if at all in game one, but contributors Kelvin Hayden and Kyle Fuller will. Both Hayden and Fuller have shined at times in training camp. Hayden has forced turnovers, which is great to see from the veteran, while Fuller has looked comfortable despite his rookie status. Last year's starting nickelback Isaiah Frey (right hamstring) is out indefinitely, but special teamer Sherrick McManis will get his chance to prove his worth on defense. The four fringe guys C.J. Wilson, Demontre Hurst, Al Louis-Jean and Derricus Purdy are all likely battling for one special teams spot if any of them make the team. Tonight will prove how much better the depth is at cornerback for the Bears.
2. Quarterback play
We've seen what teams are doing with their star quarterbacks so far this preseason. Limiting them to less than two series in total. That's exactly what Trestman will do with Jay Cutler. Jordan Palmer and Jimmy Clausen are battling it out for the No. 2 spot and these next three games should prove who is the better fit behind Cutty. Rookie David Fales has been nothing but solid in Bourbonnais and he could lock down a roster spot with solid performances starting tonight. The quarterbacks all have talent, but who can come away with the heralded backup spot behind Cutler?
3. Wide receivers
Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery don't need to prove anything to anyone about how good they really can be together. We witnessed it first hand last season. But with last year's seventh-round selection Marquess Wilson (collarbone) going down earlier this week in practice the plan behind those two stars looks slightly different. Wilson was flashing his skills and was locked in as the No. 3 receiver, but now slot receivers Eric Weems and Chris Williams will get a chance to run with the No. 1 offense. Josh Morgan and Josh Bellamy shouldn't be counted out either, although Morgan should have a leg up on a roster spot being a veteran and all. Armanti Edwards, Michael Spurlock and Dale Moss round out the depth at the position. This is an important night to see who can provide solid depth behind No. 15 and No. 17.
4. Defensive intensity
The defense battled plenty of injury woes a year ago and the lack of depth showed for Mel Tucker's unit. This game should provide a nice start for this revamped defense to prove that it can hold its on opposite this high-scoring offense. General manager Phil Emery did a ton this off-season to make this unit better, including bolstering the defensive line and cornerback position. It will be interesting to see who stands out from the new faces. This is an important night for the defense.
5. Shea McClellin
Entering his third NFL season, McClellin is officially making the switch from defensive end to linebacker, where he's currently penciled in at strongside on the preseason depth chart. The former first-round pick has the chance to revive his career after coming away with six-and-a-half sacks in two seasons (10 starts) so far. This is a big opportunity for him to lock down a starting role. Second-year man Jonathan Bostic is expected to play plenty despite veteran D.J. Williams currently manning the middle. The nickel package will be where Bostic will see the most time if McClellin can beat him out for the starting strongside job. All eyes should be on Shea, who is now sporting the No. 50 jersey.
What will you be watching tonight?
Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button to get all the latest Bears Backer articles sent to your inbox.