By Adam Hoge-
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (CBS) — The Bears are now well into their second week of training camp and have three more practices before their first preseason game Friday night in Charlotte.
Let’s take a look at five questions that we could get answers to this week:
1. How much of the first-team offense will we see against the Panthers?
It’s been pretty standard for Jay Cutler to take snaps for the first series of the first preseason game and then spend the rest of the night on the bench, but it will be interesting to see if that changes with Marc Trestman in charge. This isn’t Cutler’s first go-around with a new offense in Chicago — in fact, it’s his fourth in five years — but Trestman may want to test the progress of his first-team unit against live competition. Of course, he’s also been reluctant to scrimmage and is not allowing any tackling in practice, so he could play it conservative as well. Either way, we’ll find out in the next few days.
2. How does Leonard Pope fit in?
The Bears made an upgrade to their lack of depth at tight end over the weekend by signing veteran Leonard Pope and it will be interesting to see where he fits on the depth chart. Pope can catch passes, but with Martellus Bennett already supplanted in that role, the Bears really need help blocking. Steve Maneri was signed into the Matt Spaeth role in the offseason, but he has looked shaky in pass protection thus far. Meanwhile, Fendi Onobun appears likely to make the team, but is still somewhat of a project. Pope could buy the Bears some time as they develop Onobun. The signing also makes you continue to wonder about the fullback position, which rarely gets used with the first-team offense. It’s possible the Bears don’t keep any fullbacks, instead electing to use Onobun in an H-back role.
3. Will Jermon Bushrod return for the first preseason game?
The left tackle has missed a week of practice after injuring his calf, but he could return for individual drills today. Both Bushrod and the Bears are being careful with the injury, but he could certainly use some reps with his quarterback as he has only participated in one padded practice so far. The decision on Bushrod playing Friday night will likely coincide with Trestman’s larger plan for the entire offense. If the first team is only getting one series, then it’s probably smarter to leave Bushrod out completely.
4. Is Jon Bostic making a run at D.J. Williams’ job?
Since Williams went down with a calf injury last week, rookie Jon Bostic has filled in very nicely at middle linebacker with the first team. It may be a lot to ask of a second round draft pick to have Bostic starting Week 1, but you have to remember that Williams only accumulated 17 tackles in eight games (including the playoffs) last year in Denver. The Bears were hoping Bostic would push for the starting job and even though it has come as a result of injury, this is a big opportunity for the rookie to prove himself. Live reps in Friday’s game will be important and it will be interesting to see how Bostic handles himself.
5. How long before Kyle Long wins the starting right guard job?
You don’t need to be a scout, coach or general manager to see that first round draft pick Kyle Long has the tools to win the starting right guard job. What’s interesting is that James Brown is still the first one to get first team reps in their rotation. But Brown is also seeing time on the left side, an indication that the Bears are preparing him to be ready to play both positions. Long has handled padded practices very well so far and Friday we’ll get a chance to see how he handles a live game. Brown may get the start on the right side, but both should see significant playing time and it wouldn’t be surprising if Long proves he’s the better option Friday night.
Due to expected inclement weather this afternoon, practice has been moved up from 3:15 p.m. to 11:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.