BOURBONNAIS, IL - JULY 30: Gabe Carimi #72 of the Chicago Bears works out during a summer training camp practice at Olivet Nazarene University on July 30, 2011 in Bourbonnais, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The first preseason game is finally upon us. Thursday night sees the Bears take on Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, and it offers the first real chance for several players to make an impact with a view to securing a place on the final roster. It also gives us a chance to see what certain players look like in a game situation, not just training camp. With that being said, let's take a quick look at some of the Bears we should be keeping our eye on.
1. Gabe Carimi - I'm excited to see what the big right tackle has to show us this season. I know the first team players won't be getting that much playing time, but this is essentially Carimi's rookie season, seeing as he only played a couple of games last year. He has bags of talent, and could well develop into an excellent offensive lineman.
He might not be back to full strength just yet, but offensive coordinator Mike Tice had this to say:
"We know that Carimi is a very good player, it was just a matter of how long it was going to take for him to bounce back from the injury. He had a rough start [to camp] but it seemed to settle down. He told me he feels about 80 percent better. That's a good thing. He's put together four good practices in a row."
Let's hope that Gabe Carimi can demonstrate why the Bears took him as a first round draft pick last season. I think he will.
2. Jason Campbell - The Bears have certainly upgraded in terms of their backup quarterback this season. Campbell offers them good experience and decent ability should he need to step in and take over at any point this year.
It will be good to finally see Campbell throw the ball, and show us the ability he has. I was very pleased when the Bears signed the former Raiders passer, as I feel he is not too much of a step down from Cutler.
Last year proved what can happen if you don't have an adequate backup QB, as Caleb Hanie just didn't get the job done. Let's see how much he has improved as he takes the field against Chicago this Thursday. Hanie is currently backing up Peyton Manning in Denver.
3. Brittan Golden - Undrafted rookie Golden, out of West Texas A&M has been making a good impression this training camp. Wide receiver is probably going to be one of the most contested positions this year. The Bears simply have too many players, and not enough room for all of them.
Take a look at Lester Wiltfong's analysis of the Bears receivers here.
Golden was a good performer on special teams during his college days, so he has that in his favour. We all know the Bears are overbooked at wide receiver and some of the names that have been mentioned recently won't make the final cut. But Golden might be one to look out for. He has every opportunity to prove himself this preseason.
4. Shea McClellin - Hands up who's excited to see the Bears number one draft pick take to the field and show us what he's all about? Maybe not everyone is excited as they could be about McClellin. By his own admission, he hasn't always performed as well as he could have this off season. After one practice, he said:
"I'm pretty rough on myself. It wasn't a good practice. I gotta do better than that, and I put that all on myself. I just gotta keep getting better"
We know he's a little rough around the edges, and it remains to be seen exactly how the Bears will feature the Boise State man. He's currently being listed as left defensive end behind Israel Idonije.
I have faith that he has the ability to make a big impact for Chicago. It might not be this season (here's hoping it is), but he has all the skills necessary to be a mainstay in Chicago, and we hope to see some of that this preseason.
So that's just four players to perhaps keep your eye on as we head into the first preseason game. Who are you excited to see, and which players do you think will make a big impression?