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As of this writing, the Chicago Bears are still set to take on the Tennessee Titans in the final week of the preseason. Things can certainly change, however, as the Titans are currently experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak. At least nine individuals, including starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill and head coach Mike Vrabel, have tested positive as of Thursday afternoon.
If the league is considering canceling the game, it hasn't give any indication yet.
Probably because they're just as excited to see Justin Fields get his first professional start as we are. Okay, that's probably not it. But it does lead us perfectly into three things to know ahead of the Bears' preseason finale.
1. Justin Fields gets the start
Bears fans finally get their wish...sort of. Earlier this week, head coach Matt Nagy indicated Andy Dalton and a number of offensive starters would sit in the team's final preseason game, meaning Fields gets the nod while still throwing to the backup receivers. Even when there's good news with this team, it always comes with a caveat.
Still, Fields will likely see plenty of action throughout the first half and should be working with the first-team offensive line, which is all the reason you need to tune into the game. Embrace it too, because it's likely the last time you'll see Fields in action for at least a month if Nagy sees his plan through with Dalton.
2. This could be a big week for Nick Foles
You may think I'm joking, but I'm as serious as Kanye West was when he turned Soldier Field into his childhood home.
Foles has been the forgotten man this year after his tumultuous 2020 season with the Bears. Going from QB1 to QB3, He saw very little playing time in week one and no snaps in week two of the preseason. Obviously the focus has been on Dalton and Fields, but Foles should see plenty of action this weekend, giving him and the Bears a chance to boost his trade value from nothing to something.
It's not the most exciting storyline and it doesn't mean much in the long run, but if you're a fan of the Bears, you should hope Foles balls out against the Titans. Maybe some team will come calling for his services after all.
3. Position battles will continue after this game
In past years, NFL rosters were cut down less than 48 hours following the final preseason game. Normally, this would be the final chance for bubble players to make their case. But with the new preseason schedule, there is still another practice before the rosters are finalized.
After Saturday's game, the Bears have one more practice before rosters need to be trimmed to 53. Though it will likely be a lighter session, players can still make some lasting impressions before the front office determines who stays and who goes. The deadline to cut players is August 31st at 3 p.m. CT.
This game still matters to so many players who are scratching and clawing their way to a roster spot. But it's not the end all be all it once was.
Six position battles to watch
- Running back: Artavis Pierce vs. Ryan Nall
Nall has etched his name in Bears' preseason lore since 2018. Can he fend off Pierce to stay on the team?
- Wide receiver: Rodney Adams vs. Riley Ridley
With Javon Wims now out of the picture, the final wide receiver spot is likely down to new fan-favorite Adams and the former 2019 fourth-round pick Ridley.
- Tight end: J.P. Holtz vs. Jesper Horsted
Jesper Horsted has lit up training camp this year, but is it enough to overtake J.P. Holtz? The two players who were once the top tight ends for the Bears are now in a battle for the fourth spot on the team.
- Outside linebacker: James Vaughters vs. Charles Snowden
Both players have had key moments this preseason, but can Snowden steal a roster spot from James Vaughters during the final game?
- Nickel cornerback: Duke Shelley vs. Thomas Graham Jr.
Shelley has seen more playing time with the starting defense and Graham Jr. has flashed at times with the reserves. Shelley has the inside track but this battle isn't finished yet.
- Safety: Marqui Christian vs. Teez Tabor
Both players are listed as third string on the team depth chart, but Marqui Christian can play cornerback as well. Tabor will need to have a standout performance to win this fight.
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