Chicago Bears: Preseason

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears waived cornerback Isaiah Frey on Tuesday along with guard James Brown to get down to the NFL-mandated 75 players.

The subtraction of Frey leaves just two players -- linebacker Shea McClellin and receiver Alshon Jeffery -- remaining on the roster from general manager Phil Emery’s first draft class (2012).

A sixth-round pick in 2012, Frey played all 16 games last season as the club’s nickel corner and started in six contests. Frey contributed 62 tackles and two pass breakups, but failed to force any turnovers as he played the majority of the season with a broken hand.

Frey was the seventh pick of a class which included Jeffery and McClellin along with safety Brandon Hardin, tight end Evan Rodriguez and cornerback Greg McCoy.

The Bears parted ways with Hardin after the 2013 preseason finale after he suffered a fractured scapula. Emery admitted to miscasting Hardin as a safety, despite him spending his college career at Oregon State as a cornerback. The club cut Rodriguez in June 2013 on the heels of his second offseason arrest.

McCoy, meanwhile, was let go during final cuts in 2012.

Brown was also a part of the 2012 class, but joined the Bears as an undrafted free agent out of Troy. Brown played in five games for the Bears in 2012 and started the final three outings at left guard, but was inactive last season for all 16 contests.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears safety Chris Conte missed practice Monday as he goes through the NFL's return-to-play concussion protocol, while Jared Allen (shoulder), Eben Britton (hamstring), Kyle Fuller (ankle) and Isaiah Frey (hamstring) returned to workouts inside the Walter Payton Center as the team preps for the exhibition finale at Cleveland.

Conrath
Conte
Conte suffered a concussion during the second half of the club's loss Friday at Seattle. It was his first live action since missing the entire offseason and much of training camp after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery.

Bears coach Marc Trestman declined to give a timeframe for Conte's return, citing the fluidity of the NFL's concussion protocol.

Asked about the severity of Conte's concussion, Trestman said, "I can't answer that. I can't. It's a day-to-day thing. He's going through the protocol. I saw him after the game, and he was in a good place. But obviously he's going through the protocol right now, so I don't have an answer to that question."

Conte's latest setback brings about another question as to whether he's done enough to earn a spot on the team's 53-man roster given his limited exposure in the evaluation process. The Bears opened up training camp with an open competition for both starting safety spots, and Conte -- given his experience -- seemed to be one of the favorites to win a job.

Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker liked what he saw from Conte against the Seahawks.

"I thought Chris played fast. He was aggressive. He made a nice play in the end zone. He was excited to be out there," Tucker said. "There was no hesitation with Chris in his reads and his progressions, and I thought that was positive. With the amount of evaluation time available, we felt like that was enough time to make a clean evaluation on him, and we don't feel differently."

Against the Seahawks, Conte was credited with one assisted tackle and a pass breakup when he laid a vicious hit on Luke Willson in the end zone to prevent what would have been a touchdown.

Although Britton, Fuller, and Frey returned to practice Monday along with receiver Chris Williams, Trestman was unsure of their availability for the exhibition finale, and called Fuller and Frey day-to-day. Right tackle Jordan Mills (foot) also took part in Monday's practice, but hasn't yet played in a preseason outing. Brian de la Puente (knee) was also held out of Monday's workout.

Conte, meanwhile, started training camp on the physically unable to perform list, and didn't take part in his first practice until Aug. 10.

Conte finished third in tackles last season (95), and tied for second with three interceptions. Conte struggled tremendously through the 2013 season, highlighted by him playing the wrong coverage on a late fourth quarter Randall Cobb touchdown in the team's Week 17 loss to the Green Bay Packers which knocked the Bears out of the playoffs.

Conte said the 2013 season led to "a lot of soul searching" in the offseason.

"It was a good time for me to get better in a lot of different areas," Conte said during training camp. "Hopefully I'm a better person and a better football player. I learned to keep people close to me that I care about and to always know the people that support me are the only people that really matter. I'm not even thinking about last season. I'm thinking about this year. I don't even know what happened last season."
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Having played in the background the majority of the preseason as the No. 3 quarterback, rookie sixth-round pick David Fales preps for his most significant action to date as the Chicago Bears plan to play him the entire preseason finale Thursday against the Cleveland Browns.

[+] EnlargeDavid Fales
Stephen Brashear/AP PhotoQB David Fales will get the chance to showcase his skills in the Bears' preseason finale at Cleveland.
Fales played sparingly in the preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, but hasn't seen action since. So Thursday's game at Cleveland presents the perfect opportunity for Fales to earn a spot on the 53-man roster as opposed to being waived and later brought back to the practice squad.

"Fales, he's gonna start the game and we'll see where it goes," Bears coach Marc Trestman said. "I'd like to see him play a lot of the game. I just wanted to get David in a position where he was getting [in] on the [preparation for the] Browns and was really taking some time to prepare for this on really what is a short week for us."

Fales completed five of his seven throws for 68 yards against the Eagles, playing mostly mop-up duty in the fourth quarter. Fales tossed an interception in the game, but also led the team on a long drive that resulted in a field goal.

Fales said he's "definitely excited" for the chance to start at Cleveland. If Fales fails to impress enough to land a spot on the 53-man roster, he could wind up on Chicago's practice squad if he isn't snatched up by another team during the waiver process.

Despite lacking somewhat in arm strength, Fales makes up for that deficiency with strong anticipation skills. He possesses limited mobility, but Fales is courageous enough to stand in the pocket and deliver under pressure.

Entering the draft, Fales projected as an ideal fit for the West Coast offense, which is what the Bears currently utilize.

Fales was the first quarterback drafted by the Bears since 2011. He started in all 45 games he played in at San Jose State, hitting on 65.9 percent of his passes for 12,727 yards, 101 touchdowns and 35 interceptions.

SEATTLE -- The Chicago Bears' first-team offense moved the ball a little, putting up the only fight the starters showed all night.

But the defense churned out a stinker, giving up 31 first-half points as the Seattle Seahawks' starters dominated the Bears 34-6 on strength of a pair of Russell Wilson touchdown passes and a 7-yard run.

Here are some other thoughts on the club's third preseason game:
  • Perhaps the trip West sapped Chicago's energy, because the Bears looked decidedly slower than Seattle in all three phases. It was apparent on the opening kickoff. Percy Harvin opened with a 39-yard return, and punctuated the run back by running over Ryan Mundy, who appeared to be letting up at the end of the play. "It was all three phases of our football team: the return game, our cover game, our run defense," Bears coach Marc Trestman said. Seattle marched 61 yards on seven plays after Harvin's return with Marshawn Lynch running through a Shea McClellin arm tackle at the end of a 7-yard scoring run. The Bears applied pressure on the drive, but Wilson scrambled for short gains or bought enough time to find open throwing lanes. Chicago's defense looked noticeably slower than Seattle's offense, which converted all four of its third downs in the opening quarter.
  • The defense compounded playing poorly with mental errors. On third and 4 from Seattle's 37 in the first quarter, the Bears squandered an opportunity to force a punt by giving the Seahawks a freebie first down on Jeremiah Ratliff's encroachment penalty. Three plays later, after Willie Young had already sacked Wilson for a 9-yard loss, Lance Briggs gave Seattle another gift by hitting the quarterback late and drawing a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness. "We had penalties that continued drives, and we didn't finish drives offensively," Trestman said. Wilson eventually capped that drive with a 7-yard scramble around the end as Briggs hopelessly gave chase.
  • Mundy and Danny McCray continued to take repetitions with the first-team defense, but maybe that changes moving forward. Chicago's defensive struggles appear to involve mostly the safeties and the linebackers.
  • Chris Conte saw his first action of the preseason, entering in the second quarter. Conte laid a big hit on Luke Willson in the end zone to stop what would have been a touchdown. The next play, Wilson hit Jermaine Kearse for a 12-yard score. Conte suffered a concussion in the third quarter.
  • Jon Bostic and McClellin struggled again, but so did Briggs. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Chicago's linebacking corps come under fire internally from the staff after such a dismal performance.
  • How bad was Chicago's defense? It allowed the Seahawks to rack up 17 first downs in the first half while converting all seven third downs. Wilson hit on 13-of-17 for 174 yards and two touchdowns for a passer rating of 147.7.
  • The first-team offense wasn't much better. It converted 2-of-5 on third downs as Jay Cutler suffered two sacks, tossed an interception and finished the half with a passer rating of 64.0.
  • No clarity was gained in the search for a No. 3 receiver as Josh Morgan didn't do much to separate himself (two catches for 40 yards in the first half). New signee Santonio Holmes caught one pass for a 7-yard gain in the third quarter, but the Bears limited his exposure as he learns the playbook.

W2W4: Chicago Bears

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
12:00
PM ET
The Chicago Bears (2-0) face the Seattle Seahawks (1-1) in preseason game No. 3 at CenturyLink Field.
  • No. 3 receiver battle: Bears coach Marc Trestman said Josh Morgan deserves first shot at the No. 3 job with Marquess Wilson on the shelf because of a fractured clavicle. So Morgan is set to receive all the repetitions at the No. 3 spot with the first-team offense. He’s been one of the team’s most productive targets this preseason, but the Bears signed Santonio Holmes on Saturday. Holmes expects to play sparingly. So he’ll certainly be a player to watch as Chicago continues to look for a competent complement to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. The Bears plan to make sure to put Holmes into situations he's comfortable with to help him succeed as he learns Chicago's offense.
  • How starters handle the noise: In addition to changing eating, sleeping and practices in anticipation for the late West Coast start, the Bears have worked all week at operating in noisy environments, such as what they’ll see at CenturyLink Field. The club catered its game plan going into this contest to feature as little verbiage as possible in making adjustments, and the Bears plan to utilize silent snap counts all game in addition to using hand signals to call in plays. The Bears welcome the challenge of dealing with the noise after struggling in the last preseason game to call plays because of headset malfunctions.
  • Competition for No. 2 quarterback: The Bears plan to play Jay Cutler and the first-team offense into the early part of the second half. Afterward, Jordan Palmer will be the first quarterback off the bench as he continues to compete with Jimmy Clausen for the primary backup job. Right now, the competition appears too close to call. So this game will play a major role in the staff’s decision. Palmer’s completion percentage (70.0) is higher than Clausen’s (64.3), but the latter owns the better passer rating (123.3) and has thrown one more touchdown pass this preseason (2).
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Santonio Holmes expects to see action in some spots Friday night when the Chicago Bears face the Seattle Seahawks, but the staff wants to make sure to put the receiver into positions he’s comfortable with as he learns the new offense.

Holmes
“I’d like him to dress,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “I haven’t had a chance to talk to him and see where he is. As I said yesterday, we want to get him in there as quickly as possible. We also want to respect him and do the right thing.”

While Chicago’s offense is very similar to what Holmes executed as a New York Jet, the terminology is substantially different, he said. So the Bears want to make sure to use Holmes in situations that will allow him to excel.

“We don’t want to put him in a situation where he can hurt himself or hurt our football team,” Trestman said. “We’ll have that talk. I’ll talk to [receivers coach] Mike Groh about it, and I’ll talk to Santonio about it, and see how he feels about getting some playing time on Friday night.”

Holmes welcomes the opportunity, and said he respects Groh and Trestman’s handling of the current situation as he continues to learn Chicago’s playbook.

A ninth-year veteran and MVP of Super Bowl XLIII, Holmes has caught 381 passes for 5,963 yards in eight seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers (2006-09) and New York Jets (2010-13).
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears continue to ponder whether to play recent signee Santonio Holmes on Friday night at Seattle due to the receiver's limited exposure to the offense.

Bears coach Marc Trestman said he hasn't yet made a determination.

"I can't say that right now," Trestman said. "I think we're trying to get him to that place. I think I'll know a little bit more after practice tomorrow. We'll see where he's at. We'll talk to him and we'll see if he's ready to go and get some playing time."

Holmes
Holmes participated in the club's Tuesday workout inside the Walter Payton Center and Trestman "thought he worked positively today." Within an hour of signing his contract with the Bears on Saturday, Holmes and quarterback Jay Cutler were on the field working together; the quarterback administering a crash course to the receiver on the nuances of the club's offense.

What Cutler notices is Holmes still possesses the speed and explosion that made him one of the league's most feared deep threats at one time, but it might be too lofty an expectation -- despite recent efforts -- for the duo to strike on-field accord by the time takes the field to face the Seahawks.

"He obviously knows how to play football," Cutler said. "He's been around a long time, been in a few different systems and been successful. It's just a matter of getting him caught up with our verbiage, how we like to do things, the little tweaks we like, and just kind of get in a rapport with him timing wise. It just takes time. He's explosive. He'd probably be honest [and tell you] he's a little bit rusty. He's been out of football. But getting in and out of cuts, [he] catches the ball well, extremely explosive, fast. He's exciting. It's hard coming in where we are offensively and just kind of throwing him into the mix."

With second-year receiver Marquess Wilson out of action due to a fractured clavicle suffered in training camp, the Bears hope to find a suitable slot receiver to complement Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Trestman said veteran Josh Morgan deserves the first opportunity to work with the starters Friday at Seattle, but Cutler believes the team could have Holmes ready to play by the Sept. 7 regular-season opener against Buffalo.

Morgan has caught five passes for 77 yards through the first two games of the preseason, and outside of Holmes, appears to be the most capable fill-in option at the No. 3 receiver spot.

"He's had two good weeks of practice, two good games, productive games," Trestman said. "He's made plays out there. I think he deserves a chance to step up now and get the first opportunity to do that. He's a powerful guy. He's explosive. He's got straight-line speed, and he's got experience. He's the most experienced, other than Santonio, of any of the receivers that we have."

If Morgan falters, the club appears confident it can get Holmes up to speed quickly enough for him to have an immediate impact in the regular season. Kromer said Holmes "has been impressive in practice. Especially today, he stood out."

Still, Trestman wants Holmes to develop enough of a comfort level with the system before the club rushes him out onto the field.

"I just want him to feel comfortable to be able to go in there and perform and not put our team in a position where his mistakes would create mistakes around him," Trestman said. "We want to give him the best chance to succeed on an individual basis as well."

A ninth-year veteran, and the MVP of Super Bowl XLIII, Holmes has caught 381 passes for 5,963 yards over eight years with the Pittsburgh Steelers (2006-09), and New York Jets (2010-13). Holmes could also become a contributor on special teams, as he's returned 66 punts for 636 yards and a touchdown in addition to 18 kickoffs for 436 yards.

But do the Bears have enough time to prepare Holmes for the limelight?

"We'll find out," Cutler said. "I think [we do]. We might have to help him along in the huddle and make sure he knows what he's doing. But we've got enough veteran guys. We can get him to where he needs to be."
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino recently told Peter King of MMQB that the league doesn’t plan to compromise on its recent crackdown on defensive holding and illegal contact penalties, which is part of why the Bears remain vigilant about making sure their players execute proper technique.

Interestingly, officials flagged the Chicago Bears a total of three times so far this preseason for illegal contact or defensive holding.

“We talked to our guys, and we've actually reviewed some of the rules with them just to reiterate this is what's being called, these are the points of emphasis this season, and anticipate that it's going to be like that. It's not going to change,” Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. “So coming out of the first game we said, ‘Hey, we had way too many penalties. Let's make sure we focus on eliminating the foolish penalties; things that we can control, the pre-snap penalties.’ So we eliminated those, but we still have some aggressive penalties.”

Accepted penalties have increased thus far this preseason, compared to the 2013 regular season, and Blandino told MMQB that “the way the game’s being officiated now is the way it’s going to be officiated when the season begins.”

Believe it or not, that could bode well for Chicago’s physical receiving duo of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, but that won’t be the case for the club’s defenders. Bears coach Marc Trestman said last week the league’s crackdown won’t be a huge detriment to the team’s defenders because they rarely grab receivers’ jerseys and hold.

But that won’t stop Tucker from continuing to emphasize sound fundamentals, which will ultimately decrease penalties. Officials have flagged Bears defenders a total of 14 times so far this preseason.

“It really boils down to hand placement. That's really the focus this week: making sure our hands are in the right place, in terms of we want to make sure our hands are inside, they're not where they're supposed not supposed to be,” Tucker said. “From an illegal contact standpoint that's not a new rule. It's what it is, and we've got to coach through it. But we want our guys to be aggressive and play aggressively through their technique, and then we'll clean them up along the way. But obviously we've got to get those penalties cleaned up.”
The Chicago Bears announced on Friday they have placed tight end Zach Miller, who suffered a foot injury during the second quarter of the club’s win Thursday night over the Jacksonville Jaguars, on the injured reserve while signing receiver Kofi Hughes to a one-year contract.

The severity of Miller’s injury wasn’t immediately disclosed, as he was visiting a doctor Friday undergoing an MRI exam and a CT scan as the club made the announcement.

Despite the setback, Miller was still in good spirits.

Signed by the Bears last December, Miller put together a strong showing at training camp and caught six passes for 68 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the club’s preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. That performance led to increased repetitions for the fifth-year veteran, as the club began to experiment more with two-tight end formations which featured Martellus Bennett and Miller.

“We’ll see what happens,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “You guys saw him out at practice. He had an excellent camp. Things transitioned from the practice field to the games over the last couple of weeks. That was clear. We were certainly excited about what we saw.”

Backup quarterback Jordan Palmer, who played with Miller in Jacksonville in 2012, called the tight end’s situation “heartbreaking.”

“There weren’t a lot of opportunities early, but when he got those opportunities, he made the most of them,” Palmer said after Thursday’s game. “Goes in the game last week and has six catches and two touchdowns, and we’re riding high. He’s so confident. And then to get one of those injuries; it's not a work ethic injury. It’s not that he’s out of shape or has bad technique. It’s just a total bad luck injury.”

Miller played in 29 games over his first two years in the NFL (2009-10), but since 2011, he’s participated in just four contests as injuries continue to keep him sidelined. Miller hasn’t been a part of an active roster since 2011. He spent 2012 on the injured reserve in Jacksonville, and in 2013, Miller worked with Tampa Bay in the offseason, but was waived prior to the start of the regular season.
Marshall
CHICAGO -- Cable network Showtime announced Thursday that Brandon Marshall will serve this season as an analyst on “Inside the NFL,” and Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman is perfectly fine with the receiver balancing the new job with football.

Marshall consulted with Trestman before making the decision to work at Showtime.

“I trust Brandon,” Trestman said after Thursday night's preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. “I trust him to make a decision that was in the best interest of the team first. I know Brandon, and I know he’ll do that. I have complete faith the team will always come first.”

Marshall will serve as an analyst alongside former NFL safety Ed Reed, Boomer Esiason and Phil Simms along with new host Greg Gumbel.

“Football has always come first for him,” Trestman said of Marshall. “I believe he’ll work it out to where it won’t distract him from doing his job.”
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bears announced nine players won’t suit up for their matchup Thursday against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Soldier Field.

The list includes receivers Marquess Wilson and Chris Williams, safeties Craig Steltz and Chris Conte, cornerback Isaiah Frey, center Brian de la Puente, guard Jordan Mills, tight end Dante Rosario and defensive end Willie Young.

Wilson is expected to miss time in the regular season due to a fractured collarbone, while Williams is sidelined with a hamstring injury suffered in the preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. Steltz and Conte came off the physically unable to perform list on Sunday, and it’s likely the staff wants the duo to take in more practice time before participating in a preseason outing.

Frey, meanwhile, is nursing a strained hamstring while de la Puente is sidelined with a sprained MCL.

The staff continues to exercise caution with Mills, who underwent surgery in January on a fractured metatarsal in his left foot.

Rosario was held out of practice Tuesday due to what Bears coach Marc Trestman called calf soreness.

It’s unknown why the Bears plan to hold out Young.

W2W4: Chicago Bears

August, 14, 2014
Aug 14
12:00
PM ET
The Chicago Bears (1-0) host the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0) in preseason game No. 2 at Soldier Field. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN.

1. Backup quarterback battle: Jordan Palmer received first crack at the No. 2 job in the preseason opener, but in this matchup, the plan is for the Bears to go with Jimmy Clausen once Jay Cutler is finished for the night. Palmer played fairly well in the preseason opener, but Clausen stole the show when he came in, finishing with two touchdown passes and a passer rating of 134.6. If Clausen performs similarly against the Jaguars, it’s likely the Bears take away all the suspense in this battle and name him the No. 2. Remember, Cutler hasn’t played an entire 16-game season since 2009, which makes the backup quarterback job important.

2. Linebacker play: Collectively, the group played poorly in the opener against the Eagles. But in its defense, the team was matched up against a high-octane, no-huddle offense that featured plenty of zone-read concepts that the Bears hadn’t game-planned for. Specifically, Jonathan Bostic and Shea McClellin need to play better. Considering he started nine games as a rookie, Bostic should be poised to take a major step in his development, but we haven’t yet see that. McClellin is making the transition from defensive end, and the staff remains confident he’ll progress enough that the team would feel confident about making him the starter on the strong side.

3. Zach Miller’s bid for the No. 2 tight end job: Incumbent Dante Rosario missed practice Tuesday with soreness in his calf, and if he’s held out of this matchup, Miller basically will receive the opportunity to solidify what appears to be a stranglehold on that No. 2 tight end spot. Miller caught six passes for 68 yards and two touchdowns in his preseason debut, and has since been given more repetitions with the starters when the offense goes to two-tight-end sets. Another strong showing by Miller in this game could outright win him the job, and he needs to take advantage. So far, Miller has taken advantage of every opportunity he’s been given. This game should be no different for him.
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Shea McClellin produced a lackluster debut at linebacker Friday during the Chicago Bears' preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, but the staff remains optimistic about his transition.

McClellin
A first-round pick drafted to play defensive end in 2012, McClellin moved to linebacker in the offseason after two pedestrian seasons as a pass-rusher. Against the Eagles, McClellin struggled in his first live outing at linebacker.

He missed tackles, struggled to shed blocks, and took bad pursuit angles. But those struggles weren’t exclusive to McClellin, though, as pretty much every player at the position experienced an up-and-down evening. McClellin just happens to fall under the microscope more often because of his first-round pedigree.

"It’s one of those things where he’s working at it," defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. "We see him do it at practice. He looks very instinctive at practice. We saw him make sudden movements and quick decisions in the game. I think he’s already doing that to a certain extent. We just have to get better."

Perhaps the most important component of that process is placing McClellin into as many live-game situations as possible so he can become more comfortable playing the position. Believe it or not, against Philadelphia, the Bears drew a difficult assignment given the first-team defense faced the Eagles’ potent no-huddle offense, which features plenty of zone-read concepts, in a situation in which the club hadn’t game-planned for the opposition.

Such a scenario makes for a chaotic opening few series, but once the defense settled in, McClellin started to improve, and he finished the game with two stops. The truth is the staff isn’t looking for McClellin to light it up immediately, because it knows firsthand the challenge the linebacker is facing in making the transition from defensive end.

What the staff hopes to see from McClellin are gradual steps toward becoming the starter on the strong side.

"The bottom line is that Shea has shown enough out here to believe he has linebacker instincts," linebackers coach Reggie Herring said. "I think he’s gonna be fine," Herring added. "He’s committed. He works hard. To be honest with you, there are times out there when he moves better than all of them. He changes directions, instincts, breaking on the ball, it’s a process. Y’all be patient. We’ll know after the first game, second game, where we’re at with him. Right now, he’s on schedule. He needs to play more games. He needs more at-bats, and I really believe that he’ll come and be a solid player for us. That’s my prediction."

W2W4: Chicago Bears

August, 8, 2014
Aug 8
12:00
PM ET
The Chicago Bears (0-0) and Philadelphia Eagles (0-0) open the preseason Friday night at Soldier Field.

1. Backup quarterbacks: Expect Bears coach Marc Trestman to pull the starters after a series or two, which means we won’t see much of quarterback Jay Cutler. We already know what he can do. The team needs to see whether Jordan Palmer or Jimmy Clausen can get it done if called upon. So they’ll receive the bulk of the snaps in this game. Trestman already has said that Palmer will receive first crack at the No. 2 job. So he’ll probably come into the game immediately after Trestman pulls the starters. Palmer has been solid, yet unspectacular, in camp. The same can be said about Clausen, who has performed a little better so far than Palmer. Trestman isn’t likely to name a bona fide No. 2 after this game, but the picture should clear up a bit.

2. Safety play: While abysmal play at safety in 2013 can be attributed at least in part by inconsistency along the defensive line, there should be no excuses now with all the retooling the club has done along the defensive front. Almost every day, the Bears have opened practice with different combinations at the position as both spots are up for grabs. Adrian Wilson, Danny McCray, Ryan Mundy, M.D. Jennings and rookie Brock Vereen have all taken first-team reps. The unofficial depth chart released by the team lists Vereen and Mundy as the starters. So there’s a good chance they’ll run with the No. 1 defense against the Eagles. But we should see all five of the aforementioned safeties extensively. Keep a close eye on Wilson, because there’s still a question as to whether he has anything left in the tank. The Bears hope Wilson pans out because he could add an intimidating presence on the back end that the club has lacked in recent years.

3. Front seven: The Bears spent the bulk of the offseason revamping a front seven that played a major role in the team ranking last in the NFL in 2013 against the run. The Bears made changes to the coaching staff, overhauled the scheme and added Jared Allen, Willie Young, and Lamarr Houston in addition to drafting Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton. Now we get a chance to see whether all the work will reap rewards. There’s a chance Allen won’t play -- he’s been excused to be with his family for the birth of his daughter. So Young and Trevor Scott will likely take the bulk of Allen’s reps. Perhaps the most significant change in the scheme involves the emphasis on defensive linemen using their hands properly to engage and shed blocks. That’s why the Bears brought in martial arts expert Joe Kim to teach the defensive line hand-fighting techniques. So from the first team all the way down to the on-the-bubble players, we should see significant improvement in that area, which in turn should bring optimism about how the group will perform in the regular season.

Chicago Bears cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
6:24
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Most significant move: Despite J'Marcus Webb making 44 starts in 46 career games, including 32 consecutive starts at left tackle over the last two years, the Bears made the decision to part ways with him, even after reducing his salary to the league minimum for a veteran with three years of tenure.

Webb entered the offseason as the starter at right tackle, and stayed in that spot through the early part of training camp. Then, after the preseason opener at Carolina, the club demoted Webb to the second team behind rookie fifth-round pick Jordan Mills.

The demotion put Webb in competition for a backup role with veterans Jonathan Scott and Eben Britton. A five-year veteran, Britton has 30 games of starting experience on his résumé, but also possesses more versatility than Webb because of his ability to kick inside to guard and center. Scott hasn’t played all preseason, and recently underwent a procedure on his knee. But the team is confident that even a dinged-up Scott is more reliable than a fully healthy Webb.

Webb possesses the physical skillset to be a starter in the NFL for several years, but lacks motivation and passion, which is a no-no for general manager Phil Emery and the new coaching regime. The new staff worked diligently to coax out the best in Webb, but couldn’t do it consistently enough for the team to feel confident in the three-year veteran, even as a backup.

Good outing, bad result: Quarterback Jordan Palmer performed well in the preseason finale against Cleveland despite little preparation after signing as an injury replacement for Matt Blanchard. But a 64.7 completion percent and a passer rating of 102.8 with a touchdown pass in his preseason debut wasn’t good enough to keep the Bears from cutting Palmer.

A big part of that was the team’s reported desire to sign a third quarterback with practice-squad eligibility. Palmer doesn’t have any practice-squad eligibility remaining.

What’s next: With the 53-man roster finalized, the Bears will start to build their practice squad. If the club wants to bring back some of the players it cut, it will have to wait until they clear waivers. The Bears will likely be looking to add a few players cut from other teams to their practice squad, too.

Bears cuts: QB: Trent Edwards, Jordan Palmer. RB: Armando Allen. OG: Dennis Temple, Edwin Williams. LB:Jerry Franklin, J.T. Thomas. WR: Brittan Golden, Terrence Toliver, Josh Lenz. OT:J'Marcus Webb, Cory Brandon. DT:Corvey Irvin, Christian Tupou. S:Tom Nelson, Brandon Hardin. LS: Brandon Hartson. CB: Demontre Hurst. TE:Fendi Onobun. FB: Harvey Unga. DE: Aston Whiteside, Josh Williams.

Note: Brandon and Irvin received injury settlements. Hardin was waived/injured, which means if he clears waivers, he’ll revert to Chicago’s injured reserve.

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