The preseason is winding down for the Chicago Bears, but before their regular-season rosters are finalized, they have a date with the Cleveland Browns.
The Bears take on the Browns this Saturday night in their preseason finale, starting at 6:00 pm CT. With one last preseason game, the starters have a chance to tune up, the bubble players have one last chance to earn a roster spot, and the team can go undefeated before the actual games begin.
With the starters likely to play well into the second quarter, according to head coach Matt Eberflus, it looks like every healthy player will take the field at some point Saturday night. That gives fans plenty to watch throughout the game. Here are 10 players we’re keeping an eye on when the Bears take the field for the last time before the regular season begins.
1 quarterback Justin Fields
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Through two preseason games, quarterback Justin Fields has only attempted 14 passes while playing limited plays. That should change with the extended playing time the starters will get, allowing him to get into a rhythm with his receivers and offensive line. Plus, it would be nice to see him exorcise some demons in Cleveland after what happened in his debut last year.
2 RB David Montgomery
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One offensive starter who hasn’t seen a moment this preseason is running back David Montgomery. The team’s RB1 has been dealing with an undisclosed injury, but all signs point to him playing in this final game. He should see a handful of carries, but what will be more interesting is how active he is in the passing game. Running back Khalil Herbert has struggled with receptions and blitz collections serving as the starter in his absence. Having someone like Montgomery back will improve both areas of the offense.
3 WR Ecuanimeous St. Brown
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Many of the Bears’ wide receivers are banged up this week and aren’t expected to adjust to the timing of the game. One receiver who has stayed healthy is Equanimeous St. Brown, though he has yet to catch a pass this preseason. However, St. Brown has been active on offense in blocks and late runs. Seeing him build chemistry with Fields in one game would be ideal before the regular season, but it has to happen now.
4 OL Teven Jenkins
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Tackle/shooting guard Teven Jenkins has been a player to watch all preseason due to his fluctuating status on the line, but now comes his final test to see if he’s capable of starting Week 1 at right guard. Jenkins impressed during his debut last week against the Seattle Seahawks, but now he faces a more formidable defensive front in Cleveland. It will also be important to consider whether or not he is in the starting lineup and, if so, how long he plays.
5OT Braxton Jones
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Like Jenkins, Jones has been watching him since training camp began and has performed well as the starting left tackle. However, he is not counting his chickens before they hatch, and is still focused on the next game at hand. Jones knows full well that he could face star pass-rushers Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney and needs to keep Fields upright. It’s the perfect final test for him before facing the San Francisco 49ers’ passing rush.
6 OL Zachary Thomas
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Much of the offensive line conversation this offseason has focused on players like Jenkins, Jones, Larry Borom, Michael Schofield, etc. But let’s not forget one of the rookies who has looked good in the latter part of the games and that is Zachary Thomas. The San Diego State guard has helped open up running lanes and keep backup quarterbacks upright in previous preseason games. Let’s see if he can keep up the trend in Cleveland.
7 DE Sam Kamara
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One of the Bears’ more understated defenders has been defensive end Sam Kamara. The second-year player has made a huge impact this preseason and showed himself last week against the Seahawks. Kamara had two tackles, including one for loss, and a sack while he was playing reserves. He’s right on the roster bubble and another impactful game could be the boost he needs to make the team.
8-pound Roquan Smith
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
After a long public wait regarding his contract status, star linebacker Roquan Smith returned to practice last weekend and is set to make his preseason debut against the Browns. Smith has gotten rave reviews since he returned to the practice field and the hope is that translates into this weekend’s game. Smith might have some rust to brush off, but it’s nice to have him back before he starts the regular season.
9 CB Kyler Gordon
AP Photo/Caean Couto
Rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon had a mixed performance when he made his debut against the Seahawks last week. While he showed great range and quickness, both in coverage and in the backfield, there were some tackling issues that allowed big gains to happen. Now that he’s gotten a taste of the NFL, let’s see how he elevates his game against the Browns to build confidence heading into Week 1.
10 S Elijah Hicks
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Truth be told, I was going to put safety Dane Cruikshank in this final spot, but Elijah Hicks is a lot of fun to watch and he’s finding his footing after an impressive start in Seattle. Hicks is likely still on the roster bubble, but he offers plenty of special-teams upside. Hicks had five total tackles and a special teams touchdown. He flies to the ball and plays hard whenever he gets a chance. He’s someone who can get off the screen and hopefully he’s playing with a little more confidence heading into this final preseason game.