Monday, August 22, 2011
Three things: Bears-Giants
By Kevin Seifert
Three things to watch for in the Chicago Bears' preseason game at the New York Giants on Monday night. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ESPN.
1. Offensive line progress. No shocker here. The Bears gave up nine sacks in their preseason opener, including four by the first team, and have yet to soothe fears about the state of their biggest question mark. The hold of two starters on their respective positions is tenuous at best, and the future of left tackle J'Marcus Webb and right guard Lance Louis could ride on demonstrable improvement against the Giants. (Yes, the Giants are the team that sacked quarterback Jay Cutler nine times in one half last season.) Otherwise, the Bears might be tempted to fall back on Plan B, which would include sliding center Roberto Garza to right guard, inserting Chris Spencer as the center and/or replacing Webb with veteran Frank Omiyale. It might be now or never for this group.
2. Defensive replacements. Linebacker Lance Briggs won't play because of a bruised knee and likely will be replaced by Brian Iwuh. More interesting to me, however, will be the play of two young defensive starters the Bears have put in important positions this summer. Defensive tackle Henry Melton and free safety Major Wright both had nice debuts last week, but preseason or not, it will be important to see them take the next step of starting a night game on the road. Both are in playmaking roles in the Bears' scheme.
3. Using the big receiver: The Bears inserted Roy Williams into their starting lineup earlier this month, displacing former starter Johnny Knox. But by all accounts, Williams and Cutler are still developing an on-field relationship. Williams didn't catch a pass last week, and it's fair to expect at least a hint of the production the Bears are expecting out of him. Knox had a strong week of practice last week and has not willingly accepted his demotion, so stay tuned.