The Bears will kick off their second preseason game at 7 p.m. Thursday against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field in Seattle. The game will air on ESPN.
Football fans will have to wait to hear announcers Joe Buck and Troy Aikman make their ESPN debuts. Instead, Steve Levy, Louis Riddick and Dan Orlovsky will pair with sideline reporter Laura Rutledge on the call Thursday.
Here’s what to watch for during the game.
Can the first-team offense score?
Fields and the starters played for three series in Saturday’s preseason win over the Chiefs. They scored zero points.
Eberflus confirmed that some of his starters will see less playing time than the 18 snaps the offense saw Saturday. But it also could be different for each player on a case-by-case basis.
Part of the reason the starters aren’t playing a lot is because of the quick turnaround between preseason games. A Saturday home game followed by a Thursday game on the West Coast is less than ideal for the preseason.
But Fields and the offense should feel a lot better if they can at least put some points on the board.
Teven Jenkins at right guard
One potential starter who might see more than six to 10 reps is offensive lineman Teven Jenkins. Jenkins took a lot of reps at right guard with the first-team offense Tuesday. That’s a good indication that he might start there Thursday night.
This doesn’t mean he’s being promoted to a starting job. In fact, veteran Michael Schofield still is listed as the starter on the team’s depth chart. No, this move is all about testing the 24-year-old lineman and seeing if he can handle the guard position. He hasn’t played guard at the NFL level and rarely played it in college at Oklahoma State.
Even if Eberflus pulls the starters, Jenkins might remain on the field for a while longer.
“If you’re not an experienced guy at your position, we’re going to try to get you a little bit more [playing time],” Eberflus said. “That’s really at any position.”
Kyler Gordon’s preseason debut (and maybe Velus Jones’ too)
Rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon, the team’s top draft pick this year, sounds like he plans to play Thursday. Gordon returned to practice this week after missing about 10 days with an undisclosed injury. If he does make his preseason debut, it will be coming in his home state of Washington. He will have plenty of family and friends present.
“He’s going back, kind of a homecoming for him, so he’s really excited about it,” Eberflus said. “Yeah, he’s going to get his plays in, so we’re excited to see where he is when he performs out there.”
Gordon has played both boundary corner and nickel corner for the defense during practice. He could prove to be a jack-of-all-trades for the secondary. The rookie in the No. 6 jersey will be someone to keep a close eye on Thursday.
Rookie receiver Velus Jones Jr., a third-round draft pick, also returned to practice this week after sitting out with an injury. Jones could see his first preseason action as well. Safety Jaquan Brisker, who played well Saturday, did not practice Monday or Tuesday and likely won’t play Thursday.
Key position battles
Many of the starting jobs appear to be set at this point, but there still are some intriguing question marks. Wide receiver is a position to watch, especially once the starters exit the game. Receiver Tajae Sharpe made a ridiculous catch Saturday, but then he sat out practice this week and figures to sit out Thursday. Byron Pringle continues to sit out with a quad injury.
Who among Dante Pettis, Isaiah Coulter, Dazz Newsome and Nsimba Webster steps up? On Saturday, it was Newsome who caught a touchdown pass and made a couple of nice plays.
Another increasingly intriguing position is linebacker. If the Roquan Smith contract saga stretches out into the regular season, who is going to fill in? So far, it has been Matthew Adams. Lake Zurich native Jack Sanborn had an impressive preseason debut Saturday. Joe Thomas is listed as the third starter on the depth chart, although the Bears will use three linebackers infrequently, and Caleb Johnson provides a ton of value on special teams.
Smith, who continues to sit out as he awaits a new contract, will travel with the team to Seattle, Eberflus said. His absence continues to leave a hole at the position. Someone will have to fill it.