By Chris Emma-
(CBS) When the Bears take to CenturyLink Field on tonight, the noise will be unbearable. On the opposite sideline, the defending Super Bowl champions will be waiting. It’s an important test for a team in the process of finding its identity.
Oh, and it’s just a practice game with no true meaning. Try telling that to the Bears.
“This is a big test for us,” Bears tackle Jermon Bushrod said. “It’s our first away game, it’s in the record books as one of the loudest stadiums. We need to fight to be as poised as possible.”
Position wars wage on for Chicago, as coach Marc Trestman diligently evaluates his team at each position, looking for the best 53 players.
There’s no tougher battle the Bears could face than a date with the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field, once the record-holder for the loudest outdoor stadium. This isn’t your average preseason game in front of a weary stadium of empty seats.
On the field, Seattle has a methodical offense and dominating defense, providing a challenge on each side of the ball.
“We’re going to go against them,” Trestman said. “We’ll play hard and see how the matchups take place throughout the game.”
The Seahawks were nearly unstoppable last year in their Super Bowl victory over the Broncos, leading from the first play of the game and hardly breaking a sweat before lifting the Lombardi Trophy. It capped off a stellar season for Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Richard Sherman and Pete Carroll’s entire cast.
For nearly three whole quarters (the third preseason game provides the most playing time for starters), the Seahawks will line up against the Bears, offering a measuring stick for the team’s preseason progress.
“They’re really good,” Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said. “They’re really good. They’re really good up front. They show you a lot of looks. Their back end is as good as there is in football. Richard Sherman is really good. It’s going to be a test.”
Factor in the noise and the hill seems even steeper for Chicago. The Seattle crowds are notorious for creating a raucous environment, making it difficult to even communicate in the huddle. Hand signals will be important, something the Bears have been working on throughout camp.
Most of the Bears’ veteran players have dealt with loud stadiums — many even doing so in Seattle — but Chicago has yet to do it as a team, with its plays. This is especially meaningful for the young players getting their first dose of NFL experience.
“It’s going to be loud, it’s going to be crazy,” Bears defensive end David Bass said. “But we kind of want to face it, just to see where we’re at.”
Added Cutler: “It’s rough, to go into a stadium like that.”
With their preparation complete, the Bears feel ready for a tremendous task in the Pacific Northwest. Playing the Seahawks will be daunting, but it will unveil what this team is made of.
It will prove whether the Bears are really ready for the regular season.
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.