In Wednesday’s press conference, head coach Matt Nagy didn’t directly say he wasn’t going to play his starters, but that’s what fans should expect in Saturday’s matchup with the Indianapolis Colts.
“It’s going to be basically very similar to what you saw last week as far as going out with our guys,” Nagy said.
Another preseason game, another game of resting the starters and evaluating the younger talent on this Bears roster.
Hopefully, this game is more entertaining than the Week 2 matchup with the Giants. I can speak for nearly every Bears fans when I say that was absolutely brutal.
Here are the five Bears players I will be keeping an eye on in the third preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts.
1. Eddy Pineiro
The Bears have their one and only kicker … for now.
Eddy Pineiro, who has made 3-of-4 field goals through two preseason games, beat out Elliott Fry in what was a back-and-forth battle for the sole kicking position on the Bears’ roster.
Although Pineiro has “won” the competition, he knows he won’t have a job for much longer if he doesn’t perform.
“If I don’t make kicks, I’m going to be gone like everybody else,” Pineiro said during last Sunday’s press conference.
In practice, now, Pineiro will get all the reps. From kicking fields goals to attempting extra points to placing a kickoff in a particular spot, Pineiro will get to showcase everything that comes with being the kicker.
And for Pineiro, his next opportunity to prove he is the answer to the Bears’ kicking problems will happen against the Colts.
2. James Vaughters
Last Friday’s preseason loss to the Giants might’ve been James Vaughters’ best game in the NFL.
Vaughters finished with two total tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery. His strip-sack on first-round pick Daniel Jones was one of the few highlights to happen in that preseason game for Chicago.
That play is one way to leave a positive impression not only with the Bears but with 31 other teams.
If Vaughters continues to make impactful plays, he could have a legitimate shot sticking with the Bears.
After Aaron Lynch, there isn’t quality depth behind starting outside linebackers Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd. Also, since 2018 sixth-round draft pick Kylie Fitts hasn’t shown much thus far in his NFL career, Vaughters can use that to his advantage and prove he can be an asset to the team.
Now that Vaughters has achieved some success let’s see how he follows that up this weekend.
3. Dax Raymond
After the Bears featured Dax Raymond in their annual “Meet the Rookies” series back in June, there was a buzz created about the tight end.
That buzz had a small carry over in training camp, where he occasionally caught passes with the second- and third-team offense. However, in two preseason games, Raymond has only one catch for six yards to his name.
Last week against the Giants, no tight ends were targeted.
For Raymond to have the best chance of making this Bears team, not only will he have to be targeted but he must show he can be a threat in the passing game. Against the Giants, though, he did prove he can block, as demonstrated in this tweet from former Chicago Bear Olin Kreutz.
A guy I want to see more of is TE Dax Raymond #46. Working a combo block here with Coward on 3rd and 1. One catch with only two targets this pre season. On film he’s a willing blocker and at 6’5 255 could be that all around TE Bears are looking for. pic.twitter.com/4E6lbHtMUT
— Olin kreutz (@olin_kreutz) August 19, 2019
So far, Ian Bunting has been the most impressive tight end of the two, even though he has made several mistakes to go along with his three receptions for 77 yards in the preseason.
Raymond can bring back that buzz if he produces in Indianapolis.
4. Clifton Duck
Clifton Duck is only listed at 5-foot-9, 176 pounds, but last Friday night he made the biggest play for the Bears: a diving interception that he returned for 62 yards.
Ducks’ interception helped the Bears get into position for their only touchdown on the day, which came from 2019 seventh-round draft pick Kerrith Whyte Jr.
While I was at training camp, Duck was someone who I surprisingly wrote about either in my notes or on Twitter for making good plays.
Clifton Duck just picked off Chase Daniel in 11v11.
— The Chicago Audible (@ChicagoAudible) August 6, 2019
Now, he is still a long shot for making this roster. The Bears did draft Duke Shelley in the sixth round in the draft, and John Franklin III is also competing to be one of the defensive backs on the team.
But if he continues to make plays like he did versus the Giants, it is going to be tough to get rid of him.
5. T.J. Clemmings
After backup right tackle Rashaad Coward sustained an elbow injury in last week’s preseason game, T.J. Clemmings came in for his injured teammate.
Clemmings will see a lot of playing time Saturday because Coward is still recovering from that injury.
Since Nagy is electing to primarily have the backups start, Clemmings will get to demonstrate he can keep quarterbacks Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray upright and also create holes for the committee of running backs.
The fifth-year veteran started his career with the Minnesota Vikings in 2015 and since then he has spent time with the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders.
With two games left in the preseason and the Bears still searching to add depth at the tackle position, Clemmings will have a prime opportunity to potentially make Chicago his new home.