The Bears' third preseason game is going to be a good test for the starters, especially for both offensive and defensive lines as the Giants have a formidable pass rush and a wimpy offensive line. The first wave of cuts will happen on Monday, with roster being downsized from 90 to 75, and there are going to be some interesting moves that will surprise at least some of us. I'm not interested in guessing the end of the roster cuts (I've already done that this week), so instead we'll look at a couple of players that need to improve upon their showing thus far in preseason to avoid a visit from the Turk.
We know a guy like J'Marcus Webb needs to step up his play, but I don't see how another negative game kicks him off of the team (heck, it hasn't even taken him out of the starting lineup after two years!). The following three players are guys that I think need to step up their game or else there's a good chance (at least in my opinion) of them getting cut. They aren't necessarily starters, but they are guys that fill positions that the Bears need some solid production from.
You know Spencer is having a rough preseason when he's lined up next to Webb and people are noticing how bad the converted center is playing at left guard. Chilo Rachal, the 49ers castoff, has looked decent so far, and the Bears may have enough depth in the interior to survive cutting Spencer (especially with having Chris Williams if needed) and his $2.5 million salary. Spencer does provide valuable depth and experience along the interior of the line and wasn't half-bad last year, but his play thus far hasn't been very inspired. It may be only preseason, but a veteran like him has to know he's in trouble if he can't start actually blocking someone and stop false starting. If Spencer isn't in the starting lineup, I imagine he'll get the same treatment as Bell - reduce your salary or get cut.
Adams has spent some time with the first team when they've gone to two tight end sets, and has shown the ability to move around the field and block out of the backfield. I like Adams and think he's a solid and versatile guy to keep around, but he needs a solid game to solidify his chances at making the team. His biggest problem is that he isn't necessarily the best at anything among the tight end group. Matt Spaeth is the best blocker, Kellen Davis is the best all-around, and Evan Rodriguez is the one with the most upside. Adam's versatility as a backfield blocker could push him on the roster and Tyler Clutts off, but Adams need to show he's worth the spot. Keeping four tight ends/fullbacks on the roster is going to be tough, but Adams could even sneak into the top three thanks to his versatility and willingness to do whatever the coaches ask of him.
Favre Killer has got to be running out of chances at this point. Injuries and ineffectiveness have reduced Wootton to one career sack, and he's continuing his streak of disappointment by having an up-and-down game against the Broncos followed by another special teams injury against the Redskins. I actually haven't heard any news about Wootton's status for the game tonight, but if he doesn't play, that's another opportunity for Chauncey Davis and Thaddeus Gibson a chance to solidify themselves in the #4 defensive end spot. Wootton's "terrific camp" hints at his potential, and I think he could be a more consistent #4 end than either of the other two guys mentioned (hey, there's a reason he's stuck around this long), but its time for him to perform and prove he should be on the squad. Or, he could just retire with one of the most celebrated sacks ever.
Vote in the poll about which player needs to step up the most, and if you have a different player, give your reasons in the comments section.