The Chicago Bears are halfway through their preseason schedule and things are about to get interesting. Roster spots are close to getting sorted out, we’re learning more about the rookies, and we’re starting to see more of Matt Nagy’s offense unfold. This Saturday night (9:05 p.m. ET) the Bears will take on the Denver Broncos in the high altitude of Colorado. They’ve been practicing against one another all week, so it’ll be interesting to see if either team gains an advantage from it.
Here are five things to watch when the Bears take the field in the Mile High City on Saturday.
1. We’ll see more of the starters
Expect both the offensive and defensive starters for the Bears to see much more playing time then they did against Cincinnati last week. Both starting units could play the entire first half; and let’s face it, they need the playing time. Both units looked rusty against the Bengals as none of the starters played against Baltimore in the Hall of Fame Game. Allen Robinson will suit up for the first time in 2018, hopefully we’ll see Jordan Howard, and look for improvement from Mitchell Trubisky and others.
2. Roquan Smith
The eighth overall draft pick finally signed his contract this week and has been on the practice field. While Nagy and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio have leaned towards keeping him on the bench until he gets another week of practice under his belt, they haven’t completely ruled him out either. If he does play, we’ll finally get to see how he translates his college success onto an NFL field. But he’ll have a steep learning curve ahead of him as he missed all of training camp due to his holdout.
3. The Bears debut of Allen Robinson
As previously mentioned, the Bears' top free agent signing will finally put on the uniform this weekend. He tore his ACL in last year’s season opener while a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Bears have been cautious with him. But now the man that they signed to a three-year, $42 million ($25.2 million guaranteed) will finally get to showcase his talents with Bears fans watching.
4. Chase Daniel vs. Tyler Bray
Daniel was brought in to backup Mitchell Trubisky based on his knowledge of Nagy’s offense from their days together in Kansas City. But so far Bray has outplayed and outperformed Daniel, which means the backup job may not be determined just yet. Bray has completed 36 of 61 passes for 400 yards with a touchdown, good for a passer rating of 77.8. Daniel as only completed 16 of 28 attempts with a touchdown and an interception. He's also been sacked twice and has produced a passer rating of 45.0.
Bray has looked like the more composed passer while Daniel has rushed his throws, overthrown receivers at times, and thus far has failed to live up to the $10 million contract he signed. If Bray outduels him again, Nagy may have to re-evaluate the backup quarterback situation.
5. The Bears will play another team full of talent
While the starters may have sat out against The Ravens, the Bears still had to contend with a refocused Robert Griffin III and first-round pick Lamar Jackson. Against the Bengals the Bears, matched up against Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, and Geno Atkins, among others. The Broncos will be the most talented team that the Bears have faced thus far as they bring a roster full of studs led by the likes of Von Miller, Demaryius Thomas as well as Case Keenum and No. 5 overall pick Bradley Chubb.
The Bears are already 0-2 this preseason, and things won't get any easier against Denver as the countdown to Week 1 continues.
-- Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.
(Top photo courtesy of www.chicagobears.com)