LAKE FOREST – For the final time in 2022, the Bears will take the field for a game that won’t count in the standings, but it will give them another chance to evaluate the squad they have for the upcoming season.
That’s the third preseason game against the Browns on Saturday night in Cleveland, which is the final one before the team’s season opener against the 49ers on September 11th at Soldier Field.
Matt Eberflus will get a look not only at his starters but a number of players who’ll fill out the final spots on the 53-man roster, which will have to be set next week.
So here are a few things to look for from the Bears as they head to FirstEnergy Stadium for their preseason finale.
- Starters For A Bit
Per Eberflus, the Bears’ starters will be on the field for 25-30 plays, which should leave them on the field through the entire first half.
That will include quarterback Justin Fields, whom Eberflus said will play that allotment of plays against the Browns. The head coach did mention that a few selected starters could see fewer plays but wouldn’t reveal who those would be.
This would surpass the previous high of 15-20 plays that the starters had against the Chiefs on August 13th. With the quick turnaround for the second preseason game against the Seahawks, Bears’ starters saw about one series of action .
- Hello, Roquan
Among the players that Eberflus confirmed will play this week against the Browns is Roquan Smith as his unusual preseason has normalized a bit.
After holding-in at training camp in hopes of getting a new contract and then making a trade demand, the linebacker returned to practice last Saturday. Smith announced that he’ll play out the final year of his deal as he bets on himself to have a productive fifth season in the NFL.
The amount of plays he’ll play is still to be determined.
- Teven’s Turnaround Continues
One of the more remarkable stories in recent Bears’ training camps is the turnaround of Teven Jenkins’ prospects over the course of a few weeks.
He went from being out of practice with an undisclosed injury to being rumored to be on the trading block to making a return to practice. Then Jenkins was installed at the right guard spot and made the start against the Seahawks at that position in the second preseason game.
That’s expected to be the case once again as the Bears finish the preseason against the Browns on Saturday night as Jenkins has his shot to lock down the starting guard spot for the regular season.
A number of other positions on the line will have to be solidified, too, as a new-look group takes hold under Luke Getsy’s new offense.
- Final Spots Up For Grabs
Whether they played three or four games, the last preseason contest is the most important for a number of players who are hoping to find themselves on the final 53-man roster.
When the starters exit the lineup after the first half, it will be their time to take center stage and earn a more permanent spot on the Bears’ roster.
One of those players is linebacker and Lake Zurich native Jack Sanborn, who has enjoyed some memorable moments in the preseason. He had an interception and a fumble recovery in the win over the Chiefs on August 13th and his 14 combined tackles are the most for the team over the past two games.