The NFL season is inching closer and closer by the day.
However, before opening kickoff on Sept. 10 with the defending champion New England Patriots playing host to the Pittsburgh Steelers we still have a couple more weeks of the preseason slate.
The Chicago Bears still have three games left on their preseason schedule. A meeting with the Indianapolis Colts will take place Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium before they travel to Cincinnati the following week to take on the Bengals and then return home for a matchup with the Cleveland Browns at Soldier Field. All NFL teams will have to reduce their rosters to 75 players on Sept. 1.
After the Bears defeated the Miami Dolphins in the preseason opener it was hard to digest what we saw on the playing field. The defense for the most part, a group of backups and players competing for a roster spot compiled four turnovers. No. 2 quarterback Jimmy Clausen looked poised in Adam Gase’s offense while backup running backs Ka’Deem Carey and Senorise Perry showed promise.
The Bears and Colts held joint practices the past three days in Indianapolis while they prepare for the second preseason game. The two teams could do more of the same next season, according to the Sun-Times.
One major switch that will take place is at right tackle where second-year Boise State product Charles Leno Jr. will see many first-team snaps against the Colts. Leno Jr. took first-team snaps at right tackle on Thursday while Jordan Mills lined up with the second-team before exiting with a calf injury. This is a battle worth watching as it remains to be seen who will be the starter.
Here are five key players to watch against the Colts in Indy.
The fifth-round pick is now with the first-team after taking over for second-year Minnesota product Brock Vereen. Vereen looked lost for the most part in the Bears’ first-team lone drive last week. Amos is an intelligent and physical safety who suits the Bears’ defense well especially opposite a veteran like Antrel Rolle.
Vereen could have a role as a slot corner especially if Amos impresses further and runs away with the starting gig. Amos looked comfortable with the second-team, where he had two tackles against Miami. This is his biggest opportunity in his young NFL career. Look out for Amos all night long in Indy.
Talk about an impressive debut with a new team. Fifth-year Texas product Sam Acho recorded two tackles, a sack, an interception and a pass breakup against Miami. The smart and talented linebacker spent his first four seasons playing in a 3-4 defense with Arizona.
Even though Jared Allen lined up with the first-team against the Dolphins, Acho should get plenty of chances to be a starter or at the very least a top rotational backer. Saturday night is a big game for Acho.
Cornelius Washington is currently listed with the third team as a defensive end, but he showed well in the preseason opener. The third-year Georiga product had three tackles including one for a loss and a team-high two quarterback hits.
Behind starters Ego Ferguson and Jarvis Jenkins and second team ends Brandon Dunn and Will Sutton, Washington has a legitimate shot to lock down a roster spot with another solid performance. He recorded his first sack late last season and his arrow is pointing up.
The former AFL star return man looked very confident as both an NFL wide receiver and returner. He totaled 38 yards on two returns (27-yard kick return, 11-yard punt return) and a 15-yard reception on a third-down (video can be seen here). He also reeled in a catch on a two-point conversion.
Cruz has some serious wheels at his 5-foot-9, 195-pound frame. Don’t rule him out for a roster spot. He will likely have to beat out veteran returner Marc Mariani for that role, but if he can continue to make plays offensively than he will be hard to cut.
Now in his sixth season, Miller hasn’t played in a regular season game since the 2011 season with the Jaguars. He is a versatile tight end who can line up outside as a receiver at times and even as a fullback. At 6-5, 240, Miller should be the No. 3 tight end behind Martellus Bennett and Dante Rosario.
Bear Pascoe is his main competition, but Miller brings much more to the table as a pass catcher. He would be a nice third tight end if he could stay healthy. He failed to record a rerception against the Dolphins. Playing against Indy in game two is very important for the 30-year-old.
Others to keep an eye on: LB John Timu, DL Terry Williams, ILB Jon Bostic, S Sherrod Martin, WR Rashad Lawrence, RB Senorise Perry
What will you be watching on Saturday night? Make sure to comment below.
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