Wide receiver Brandon Marshall and defensive end Julius Peppers will suit up after sitting out the preseason opener in Carolina.
Jay Cutler will likely get the first quarter to showcase the Bears’ new look offense led by Marc Trestman.
Playing host to a team like San Diego will be a good test for the Bears. Philip Rivers doesn’t have the same weapons he once had, but he still has tight end Antonio Gates. He also has up-and-coming wide receiver Vincent Brown.
The Bears will once again be without a couple of key players. Wide receiver Earl Bennett (concussion) and middle linebacker D.J. Williams (calf strain) will be out for the second straight week. Defensive tackle Henry Melton won’t be in uniform on Thursday night after suffering a concussion in week one of the preseason.
LS Patrick Mannelly (ribs), RB Armando Allen (hamstring), RB Harvey Unga (hamstring), and T Jonathan Scott (knee) aren’t expected to play. WR Joe Anderson (shoulder) and DE Cheta Ozougwu (hamstring) are 50-50 heading into the game.
Rookie RT Jordan Mills, rookie RB Michael Ford, fourth-year DT Nate Collins, fourth-year DE Corey Wootton and second-year S Brandon Hardin.
Tonight should be a good chance to see more of the young players step up and make a name for themselves in front of the home fans at Soldier Field.
What To Watch For
This unit had a pretty solid debut against Carolina. Rookies Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene played very well. Lance Briggs and James Anderson didn’t get much playing time, but they both looked solid in their short stint on the field. Tonight should be another big test for the linebackers specifically the younger players. It will be important for James Anderson to get comfortable in the defensive as well. But figuring out the depth and the future of this core is essential. Bostic’s 51-yard interception return in Carolina was great to see, but can he once again play at a high level? Also, can Khaseem Greene prove that his worth protecting against the pass? It should be a fun one to watch with these linebackers looking to make plays all night.
We know what Jay Cutler can bring to the table. His receivers and him need to get on the same page especially early on. The first quarter will be big for Cutler and Co. His backup Josh McCown didn’t really wow anybody in Carolina, but I think he is a better backup then most believe. He certainly needs to look more sharp tonight. Second-year man Matt Blanchard completed 15 of 18 passes for 194 yards and one interception against the Panthers. However, the interception proved how raw Blanchard still is. He needs to keep growing as a player before he could be considered a legit option at quarterback in this league.
The Tight Ends
We didn’t see much from this unit in terms of receptions. They combined for three catches for 17 yards. Steve Maneri had one catch for eight yards, while Gabe Miller had two catches for 9 yards. Fendi Onobun dropped what appeared to be a sure touchdown. Martellus Bennett and Leonard Pope weren’t targeted at all. Bennett will likely get looks in the first quarter, while Pope will have get extensive playing time throughout. Kyle Adams sat out of the first game, but will get playing time at fullback and tight end tonight. This will be a big game for Onobun and Adams who are both looking to earn a roster spot. Adams might have the leg up because of his experience and versatility.
The Offensive Line
J’Marcus Webb and James Brown have been benched in favor of rookies Jordan Mills and Kyle Long. Its really not hard to believe considering Webb has been inconsistent during his three seasons in the windy city. Brown is an inexperienced guard in his second year, while Long was selected in the first-round this year. Brown still has a chance to earn the starting gig, but Long should be able to lock it up over the next few weeks. This is a huge test for rookies Kyle Long and Jordan Mills. Eben Britton is auditioning for the swing tackle position. He is looking to play better than he did against the Panthers. Jermon Bushrod and Matt Slauson will be looking to gain more experience in this offense in limited playing time tonight.
Weather.com Weather Forecast
Expect the weather to be in upper 60′s and mostly clear. Lows in the mid 50s. Southeast winds around 10 mph early in the evening.