Despite the endearing futility of investing heavily in preseason, first look at starters and intriguing rookies has to be worth something. With reports promising a couple of drives for starters, tonight’s Bears at Bengals contest has evident value as a football game rather than just an ad revenue cash grab like nearly all other preseason games. But like any other week, there will be players to watch. So here are some players to watch for Bears-Bengals.
Javon Wims, Wide Receiver
After a week seeing him potentially carve a significant role in the offense, the seventh round rookie will get a chance to follow up his brilliant seven catch, eighty-nine-yard performance. Being in such a crowded position group does him no favors but defined by six foot four height and a strong start out of the blocks, Wims could sculpt a specific role for himself in the offense already. A pressing necessity for rookies, being unable to characterize your spot on a team will almost always result in being washed away or replaced. If Wims thoroughly proves his big-play and red zone threat, he will be a nice boost to a potentially dangerous offense.
Kylie Fitts, Defensive End
Already beginning to claw his way to the top of the depth chart after a stellar camp, Fitts only continued the upward trend with his first sack in NFL action last week against the Ravens. This week, he will have another opportunity to build towards starting come Week One. And a viable starter at that. With the pass rush crumbling after an offseason purging the majority of impactful pass rushers on the roster, the Bears have a gaping hole that Fitts can and has to fill.
Mitchell Trubisky, Quarterback
This one really goes without saying. Last season could be considered a disaster offensively but the flashes of greatness out of Trubisky kept the hope alive. Now with a completely revamped offense and a brand new head coach hand-picked for him, Trubisky could and honestly should be in for a meteoric rise. Armed with a suddenly deep and dynamic receiver crew, a far more innovative playbook to experiment with, and an already-steady run game, every chip rests in the UNC product’s favor. And with starters getting a little bit of action, this week will be the first official showcase of the Nagy offense and the Bears offensive future as a whole. Oh yeah, and Trubsiky had a career game against this squad last season.
Tarik Cohen, Runningback
As a starter who will see his first preseason action, it will be fascinating to see how Nagy plans to utilize the five foot six back. Former head coach John Fox seemed completely lost on how to use Cohen so this season promises a far more creative use of him, so the very basis of his role will be an enjoyable prospect. And hey, considering the low stakes of a preseason matchup, Nagy may treat us with a wild reverse or college level fake play cooked up for absolute emergencies. And with his giddy quickness and breathtaking shiftiness, any trick play will have Cohen at the center of it.
Roquan Smith, Middle Linebacker
Ok, ok, while he won’t be seeing the field due to ongoing contract disputes and technically doesn’t count as a player to watch for Bengals-Bears, the Bears-Smith drama and how much longer he can hold out for justifies his placement as a player to watch. The possibility of missing the entirety of preseason still remains scarily prevalent and even an action as drastic as a trade still could be considered on the table. Though the concern he won’t be under contract before Week One doesn’t seem that high, how much longer until either side blinks will still hang over this game and every game until he signs the dotted line.