OAKLAND, Calif. -- Defensive end Julius Peppers makes his preseason debut Friday night when the Chicago Bears face the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum, but 10 players won’t be suiting up to take the field.
Veteran receiver Earl Bennett and defensive tackle Henry Melton continue to go through the concussion protocol, and while the club says the duo is improving, it’s unknown when the players will return to action.
Quarterback Matt Blanchard made the trip to Oakland but is expected to be out for approximately a month after breaking a knuckle on his left hand last week against the San Diego Chargers. Running backs Armando Allen (hamstring) and Harvey Unga (ribs) won’t play against the Raiders, along with linebacker D.J. Williams (calf), offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (knee), long snapper Patrick Mannelly (ribs), defensive tackle Corvey Irvin (ankle) and defensive end Cheta Ozougwu (hamstring).
Bears coach Marc Trestman recently expressed confidence that Williams, the expected starter at middle linebacker, will be ready to play in the next 12 to 14 days.
Peppers, meanwhile, hasn’t yet played a down in an exhibition game but was expected to make his debut last week against the Chargers. After doing some work on the field during pregame workouts, Peppers approached Trestman and revealed he didn’t feel well enough to play.
Peppers experienced some tightness in a hamstring during an Aug. 3 practice, and the team has given the veteran sporadic days off at practice while keeping him out of exhibition action. Peppers practiced all week prior to the trip to Oakland, and Trestman expressed confidence in the defensive end’s conditioning level.