Preseason football for the Bears starts this Saturday.
The Bears will host the Tennessee Titans at Solider Field, giving both teams an opportunity to hit someone else other than their respective teammates.
There is so much to watch for in this Week 1 preseason game, but a lot of attention should be placed on general manager Ryan Poles’ top three rookies in Darnell Wright, Gervon Dexter Sr. and Tyrique Stevenson.
Here is what I’ll be specifically looking for Saturday.
The No. 10 overall pick out of Tennessee has had an up-and-down training camp.
A perfect sequence of plays to represent this happened in Thursday’s practice. The first-team offense lined up on the 15-yard line and Justin Fields dropped back to pass. Wright was a step slow off the snap and Rasheem Green beat him around the edge for a sack on Fields. On the next play, the Bears called a run for Khalil Herbert to the right. Wright pulled on the play, got out in front, found his landmark and blocked Jack Sanborn to help lead the way for Herbert to score.
Coaches and teammates have praised Wright’s quick feet for his 6-foot-6, 335-pound frame. He is clearly talented, but there just needs to be more consistency from the rookie.
Throughout camp, Wright has been beaten on inside moves from Terrell Lewis, Trevis Gipson and Dominique Robinson. Against the Titans, I’m curious to see if he can utilize proper technique to mitigate those types of rushers. In the run game, I want to see Wright play fast and physical. Training camp isn’t ideal for seeing what the run game can do, but Wright will have an opportunity to showcase this particular skillset when run blocking on Saturday.
Gervon Dexter Sr.
Dexter had his best practice of training camp on Thursday. The 6-foot-6, 312-pound defensive lineman showed a better get-off — something that was especially inconsistent at Family Fest at Soldier Field. He used his strength to overpower Alex Leatherwood, which allowed him to get a tackle on Khalil Herbert. He also walked back Ja’Tyre Carter, who was running with the first-team offense. Later in the practice, he batted down a Fields pass.
Those are the type of impact plays the Bears need to continue to see from the rookie defensive lineman. What I’ll be paying attention to on Saturday is if Dexter can build off that dominant Thursday practice. Can he consistently get-off the line of scrimmage quickly? That, right now, is the biggest question when it comes to assessing his game.
Also, just simply seeing where Dexter lines up (at the 1 or 3-tech) will be something else I plan on monitoring on Saturday against the Titans.
Stevenson has been through it all in his first training camp. DJ Moore has consistently caught passes against him despite tight coverage. He has intercepted Justin Fields several times. He has battled and continues to battle against fellow rookie Terell Smith for first-team reps. And Stevenson got thrown down by Chase Claypool and got in a shouting match with the receiver.
Now Stevenson has to take everything he has experienced so far in training camp and use it to his advantage on Saturday against the Titans. The rookie cornerback hasn’t backed down from anyone, and that same competitiveness needs show up throughout the preseason.
For Stevenson, I’ll be focusing on how often the Titans throw in his direction and how the young cornerback responds after he gives up a play. Based off of the training camp practices, Stevenson should be ready with that “next-play” mentality. Also, I want to see his physicality show up, whether it’s jamming at the line of scrimmage, fighting a receiver through the entirety of a route or when he is in position to make a tackle.
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