Bears vs. Giants: 10 Key Players and Things to Watch for Chicago

Brett Solesky@@MidwayBearsBlogCorrespondent IAugust 24, 2012

Bears vs. Giants: 10 Key Players and Things to Watch for Chicago

0 of 10

    The third preseason game is considered the dress rehearsal for the regular-season opener. Starters for each team will play well into the third quarter, and there will be more game-planning involved than a typical preseason game. 

    Theoretically, this means you'll be able to best gauge how the Bears will look during the regular season before it even starts. 

    Most importantly for the Bears, two starting positions on the roster will be determined in this game. 

Who Wins the Starting Left Tackle Spot

1 of 10

    Let's cut right to the chase, Mike Tice stated that who ever looks the best between Williams and Webb in this game will be named the starter. 

    Neither has performed at a high level, and neither should be expected to perform at a high level, especially in this game. 

    Jason Pierre-Paul will sit out the game, but it won't get much easier in his absence. So it will be a battle until the end. 

    If it's my call to make, Chris Williams is the starter, but since it's Mike Tice making the call, the guess here is Webb will be the starter.  

Who Wins the Starting Left Guard Spot

2 of 10

    Honestly, this should have been settled a long time ago, since neither Spencer nor Rachal have performed as well as Chris Williams has when he was the starter for two years. 

    Williams should have rotated back to LG; instead, Spencer and Rachal are battling at a position neither has played at during their careers. 

    Spencer was one of the best offensive linemen on the team last year, and he now looks like one of the worst. 

    Rachal is a good run-blocker at times, but he's an atrocious pass-blocker. 

    I think the nod goes to Spencer, as Rachal just hasn't pulled away or showed anything to deserve the spot. Add in Spencer's versatility, and the scales tip considerably in his favor.

Sixth Linebacker Spot

3 of 10

    The depth at linebacker is precarious at best. Urlacher's injury means one more injuries to a starter and the Bears could be down to some pretty questionable talent as starters. 

    Dom DeCicco was one of the front-runners before his devastating groin injury put him squarely on the roster bubble. 

    Can the Bears justify keeping the second-year developmental project if his only value is on special teams? There's no way to gauge how good or bad DeCicco could be as a linebacker because he hasn't played and won't anytime soon. 

    J.T. Thomas looked great in the Broncos game and good against the Redskins, thus he's the favorite to stick on the roster. 

    Thomas was once an afterthought, but he has proven himself through two games and now gets to prove it again in reps against the Giants starters.

    Patrick Trahan has made a couple of plays, but he likely won't stick based on how well J.T. Thomas has played.

The Last CB Spot

4 of 10

    Good grief, I don't even want to try and make a prediction between two rookies and a washed-up veteran. Jonathan Wilhite, Greg McCoy and Isaiah Frey have been deplorable each and every time they've lined up back there in coverage. 

    All three bear equal-parts responsibility for making Kirk Cousins look like Aaron Rodgers last week. 

    The truth is one of them is likely going to stick on the roster as the fifth corner on the squad.  

    Put on a blindfold, spin around in circles 10 times, attempt to walk straight ahead, and whomever you bump into is your fifth starter. 

Third Running Back

5 of 10

    Kahlil Bell was asked to take a pay cut; he refused and instead received his release, thus ending his career in Chicago. 

    Lorenzo Booker had an electrifying kick-off return for a touchdown last week, and the Bears love return men. Booker's value is in the return game, though he shouldn't be underestimated as the third back. 

    Armando Allen seems like the coach's favorite, so he may earn the third RB spot. 

    I think it will take two games to determine the winner of this battle, but one or the other could be tasked with running out the clock if the Bears are ahead late. 

Gabe Carimi's Knee

6 of 10

    Is Gabe Carimi healthy or not? 

    The coaching staff says he's healthy, but Carimi hasn't played up to par yet this season and may still be favoring his knee. 

    I say he looks healthy, but Carimi is what he is and will continually struggle with speed off the edge. 

    Carimi is supposed to be the one sure thing about this offensive, but through two games, he is anything but a sure thing. 

    He's a good run-blocker, but there's concern as a pass-blocker. Will Carimi finally settle into the starting RT role, or will he just add to an already precarious situation on everyone's mind. 

Chris Summers, Active Roster or Practice Squad?

7 of 10

    Chris Summers is far more talented than either Rashied Davis or Dane Sanzebacher. The more polished receivers at this point, however, are the latter, and Summers may not make the roster as a result.  

    Summers just missed coming down with two fade patterns in the end zone; he just couldn't keep his hands on those passes. 

    Later in the Redskins game, he snared a beautiful pass over the middle and had a great run after the catch, only to fumble the ball away. 

    Summers will get better, but the question is whether he can get better in time to avoid winding up on the practice squad.

Safety Depth

8 of 10

    Major Wright will start at free safety, and Craig Steltz at strong safety. Steltz likely deserves to start outright ahead of Wright, but injuries have forced the hand of the coaches. 

    Wright hasn't been able to stay healthy at all in his career, and if he goes down with an injury, it'll bring in Anthony Walters. 

    Walters has no game experience other than special-teams work and is only in his second season. 

    After these three, the pool is so dry that the Bears might find an equally talented player at one of the local high schools. 

    Walters will have every opportunity to prove that he belongs, but the Bears will likely grab a veteran off the wire in two weeks. 

Is There Room for a Fifth?

9 of 10

    Corey Wootton missed last week's game due to a nagging injury. He returned to practice this week and is expected to play against the Giants. 

    Wootton needs to play because he's fighting for the fourth DE spot on the team. Chauncey Davis, however, remains a reliable option when he's called upon.

    Will the Bears keep a fifth defensive end? 

    If Wootton and Davis go snap for snap, play for play, the Bears just might keep a fifth defensive end to start the season like they did last year. 

Handling Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz

10 of 10

    Neither Victor Cruz or Hakeem Nicks are big and physical wide receivers, which is a matchup that Charles Tillman struggles with. 

    Quick receivers like both Cruz and Nicks have given the Bears CBs headaches in the past. 

    The Bears need to be able to lock down these two playmakers and keep them out of the end zone. A strong pass rush will help, but there are a lot of receivers similar to the skill set of these two that the Bears will have to deal with consistently this year. 

    It would be nice to see Tillman, Jennings and Hayden have a strong game against the Giants starters.