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What to look for in the Bears’ 2023 preseason opener vs Titans

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — After an offseason featuring a number of acquisitions, the Bears are going to take the field for a game against an opponent for the first time this season.

It won’t count in the standings, but it does give fans something to see from Matt Eberflus’ second team just under a month from their season opener against the Packers on September 11.

The Bears will face the Titans at Noon at Soldier Field on Saturday for the first of three preseason games this month. It won’t be a full showcase of every player, since reps will be split up, but it does give fans at least a quick glimpse of the team that will get things going for real in September.

Here are a few things to look for from the Bears as they get their 2023 preseason started on Saturday.

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

How much will starters play?

You can expect starters to take the field on Saturday, but how many and for how long was something still being decided late this week.

“It’s usually a range,” said Eberflus when asked about how they determine starter reps for Saturday. “Usually I’ll tell guys ‘Hey, it’s 7-to-10 plays, he’s going 12-15 plays.’ So you can have a little flexibility there, based on how the drive’s going for that particular guy.

“That’s what we’ll do.”

Eberflus did confirm that quarterback Justin Fields will play against Tennessee on Saturday but didn’t give an exact play number. In the preseason opener in 2022 against the Chiefs, he had three drives and 18 plays.

Chicago Bears wide receiver Chase Claypool catches a ball at the NFL football team’s training camp in Lake Forest, Ill., Thursday, July 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Who is dealing with injuries?

One of the players that many fans are eager to see take the field is receiver Chase Claypool, who is looking to bounce back after a slow start to his Bears’ career after a mid-season trade from Pittsburgh.

Unfortunately, a hamstring injury suffered this week could have him off the field this week as the Bears take a cautious approach with starters.

During the last practice before the preseason game against the Titans, offensive lineman Nate Davis and Lucas Patrick didn’t participate along with linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, defensive end DeMarcus Walker and safety Jaquan Brisker.

It’s unknown if they will take part in the game on Saturday.

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Rookies get their chance

One of the great things about the preseason for coaches is to get the chance to see how their first year players perform in a game situation.

That will be presented to those draft picks and undrafted free agents that are currently in the Bears’ training camp on Saturday.

Naturally, many will have their focus on right tackle Darnell Wright, the team’s first round selection in 2023. He’s expected to start right away and will take his first NFL reps against Tennessee on Saturday.

Along with Wright, many are eager to see second round cornerback Tyrique Stevenson take the field as he’s had some positive moments in training camp. He like a few others will be looking to solidify their place on the depth chart or roster, including second round pick Gervon Dexter Sr.

“I’m ready to compete,” said the defensive tackle this week when asked about his first preseason game. “I’m ready to showcase some of those things. I’m not looking at it like a preseason game. It’s my first game, it’s my first NFL game. I’m prepared for it, I’m gonna prepare for it, so I’m just ready to compete and showcase my talents.”

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