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Five things to watch in the Bears vs Titans Preseason Week 1

Here are some things to keep an eye on during tomorrow’s Bears’ game at Soldier Field.

Chicago Bears Training Camp Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The preseason is upon us! It always shows us how much we are all such football degenerates that we sit there drooling while waiting for the preseason games to arrive. I can't remember the last time I saw hype for a Chicago Bulls preseason game, but here we are as the Chicago Bears face the Tennessee Titans for their first preseason game on Saturday.

Matt Eberflus has stated that Justin Fields and the healthy starters will see some action on Saturday, but that usually doesn't equate to more than a series or two. So when Justin Fields is on the sidelines with about 6 minutes remaining in the first quarter, what should you keep an eye on the rest of the game?

Here are five things to watch during Saturday's game against the Titans.

Trestan Ebner

When the Bears released their first depth chart, it was interesting that Ebner was listed ahead of Travis Homer. Ebner did not look like he belonged on an NFL field as a rookie, but there have been some reports that he has looked pretty darn good in training camp.

There's no chance the Bears will carry five running backs on the 53-man roster (not counting Khari Blasingame), which means someone will find their way to the practice squad or an outright release. The obvious money was on Ebner heading into training camp, but if he plays well and forces Eberflus and Ryan Poles to consider keeping Ebner, who would it be in place of? There's no chance that it would be Khalil Herbert or Roschon Johnson, and it seems like a stretch that it would be D'Onta Foreman (although he's the easiest to release financially). That leaves Travis Homer, but he signed a two-year deal, and it seems he was signed specifically to help keep Justin Fields safe.

On Saturday, Herbert will probably get limited snaps. A veteran like Foreman doesn't need many preseason reps, nor do you want to risk it. Johnson will probably get a decent amount of time, but Ebner will probably see the bulk of the offensive snaps in the second half.

If Ebner is to earn a spot on the 53-man roster, it would be a tall order, but if he plays well in the preseason, he's going to make it difficult on Poles and Eberflus come final cuts.

Ja'Tyre Carter

Carter is probably the most interesting player on the offensive line to watch during the preseason. Darnell Wright is another, but we don't know how many snaps he's going to see. Wright could see more snaps than what most of the starters will see, but we know that Carter will see plenty of snaps.

Carter was kept on the 53-man roster all of last season, meaning Poles saw enough in him that he didn't want to risk another team poaching him from their practice squad. He has cemented himself as the number two right guard behind Nate Davis, and because Davis hasn't played much, Carter has seen plenty of time with the 1s.

Carter will see time with the 1s again, as there's no reason to expect Nate Davis to play on Saturday, but he will almost certainly be out there with the 2s as well. Carter's results in training camp have been mixed. It will be interesting to watch him in-game action to see how he looks heading into this season.

Poles is an offensive line expert. Part of that skill will be finding day three offensive linemen and molding them into quality backups or hopefully starters. Carter will be the first test case to see if Poles can do that. On Saturday, fans will get a good chance to see what Carter is about.

Zacch Pickens & Gervon Dexter

There's been plenty of talk about Pickens and Dexter during training camp. Dexter has been largely good, and Pickens has been largely negative. This will be our first opportunity to watch them play. Pickens has also stated he's been playing nose tackle, so watching him at that position, especially during running plays, will be interesting to watch for sure. Dexter has been playing well in camp, and this will be his first opportunity to show fans what he can do on television.

If Dexter develops into a threat this season, the Bears may look to him to be the crucial 3-tech tackle on the team next year, a key role in the Eberflus scheme. Pickens will need more time to develop before he can hopefully become an impact player, but this Saturday we will get a chance just to see where each of these players are in their development.

Noah Sewell

Sewell has been an impact rookie at training camp. He has taken advantage of his opportunities, and it appears is supplanting Jack Sanborn as the starting SAM linebacker. Luke Getsy mentioned Sewell specifically when he asked what players on the defense have been given the offense fits. Sewell's biggest issue in college was coverage, but he's even managed to snag an interception during 11 on 11s in training camp.

Sewell should see significant reps out there, at least during the entire first half. He will be a guy to watch, and it should be fun to watch him on plays and see how he looks against the Titans. Sewell is a guy that I don't think Bears fans expected to make much of an impact this year, but he could find his way into the starting base defense if he keeps it up.

The Punt Returners

This is a big question mark on the team this year. Dante Pettis handled the duties last year, but he's WR7 right now and the most likely player to be cut to reach the traditional six wide receivers on the 53-man roster. For Pettis to be cut, Poles and Eberflus have to be confident that the Bears have a punt returner (or two) that can handle the duties.

Velus Jones was supposed to be that man last year, but muffed punts caused him to lose the job to Pettis. Tyler Scott has been given opportunities during training camp as well, but he's also had some hands issues. These guys are going to have to be competent punt returners for the special teams' units to come together.

If neither Jones nor Scott can handle returning punts, Pettis is going to have to remain on the roster, and we could see a surprise cut which would probably have to be Velus. The Bears don't need Devin Hester back there, but they need competency. That will be something to watch all preseason.