Yesterday I posted the pregame what to watch for article. In that article I take the 40,000 foot view of the third preseason game, where a few key players and situations were highlighted. I wanted to take a deeper dive as there are a few specific players that I want to keep an eye on.
These will mostly be either bubble players or guys that are coming back from injury that need to step up their game heading into the season. There are a few key injuries that have opened the door for a several players to make an impact tomorrow afternoon.
I have already mentioned Jeremy Langford in he previous article, but I would be remiss if I did not mention him once again. This is his one and, seemingly, only chance to make an impact prior to the cut date. For his sake, I hope he makes the most of this opportunity as I don’t expect Jordan Howard to receive a lot of carries.
Without further adieu, let us discuss the players I will be watching closely against the Titans.
Kendall Wright (#12): Wright seems to have the edge over Victor Cruz at the moment. However, Wright has mainly played with Mike Glennon, whereas Cruz has mainly played with Mitchell Trubisky thus far. Wright is going to have to continue to get open and get on the same page as Trubisky.
The way I see it, Trubisky is going to be the starting quarterback at some point this season. It would be painfully short-sighted of the Bears organization to keep a player who is the main target of a player that is likely to be replaced in-season. I thought that throughout training camp, that these two players were pretty evenly matched. Given Wright’s history with Dowell Loggains and the fact that he has garnered first team reps, I feel that Wright is going to need to build a rapport with Trubisky to maintain his starting status.
Adam Shaheen (#87): The rookie tight end has had a very impressive training camp to this point. That said, his performance in the preseason has been lackluster at best. This third preseason game is the perfect opportunity to utilize a deep tight end group by mixing and matching personnel groupings, which I expect to see once the regular season starts.
Shaheen has had a few drops and has overall looked as though the stage were a little too big, the lights a little too bright. My hope is that he is just going through some rookie jitters and that given an almost full game of playing time will help him settle into the game. Throughout camp, it also appears that this is another player that has built the trust of Trubisky and it is possible that these two have a better connection than when Glennon is in the game.
Roy Robertson-Harris (#74): The second-year undrafted free agent out of UTEP has had an interesting NFL career thus far. I don’t want to get into all of that here but the result of some off-season issues, may just have been the best thing for Robertson-Harris’ career. He put on 35 lbs. and has been training hard to make the transition from outside linebacker to defensive end.
Through the first two preseason games, it appears that he is taking to the position switch quite well. His 4-3 defensive end skills from college have been a huge bonus. Robertson-Harris offers superior length and athleticism to a position that is generally dominated by much larger, and bulkier counterparts. If he can continue to flash the speed and quickness he showed at 255 lbs. now that he is at 290 lbs., then the Bears just might have found a diamond in the rough.
Eddie Jackson (#39): Jackson’s ball-skills have been well-documented since he was selected by the Bears in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. This is a skill that has been missing in the back of the Bears secondary for a very long time now. Nobody is questioning the ball-skills or what Jackson’s abilities are once the ball is in his hands. The real questions are his physicality and his ability to digest a new defensive scheme.
So far, Jackson has shown a more physical style of play than he did on his college tape. He has not shied away from contact and has even made a few plays near the line of scrimmage. The more important thing to watch is how “assignment sound” is he? I believe that Jackson will receive more playing time tomorrow and this increased exposure should give us a better sense of his readiness to play week 1.
As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and which players the WCG community will be watching come Sunday at Noon.
And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for my thoughts on the game in real-time.