The Chicago Bears kick off their 2018 preseason schedule against the Baltimore Ravens in Thursday night's Hall of Fame Game in what will be the first look at the team's revamped offense.
The Bears spent significant resources on the offensive side of the ball this offseason, starting with coach Matt Nagy and extending to playmakers like Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton and second-round pick Anthony Miller. And while most, if not all, of the high-priced players won't see action against the Ravens, there are still several things worth watching when Chicago has the ball.
The game may not have much importance in the grand scheme of things, but it does represent the debut of coach Nagy and the new era of Bears football. He won't be putting much, if any, of his playbook on the display Thursday night, but we will get a look at his sideline demeanor and how he handles things like clock management and replay challenges. The extra preseason game will do wonders for Nagy once the regular season rolls around.
Whether or not White plays will be a storyline worth monitoring, but logic suggests the fourth-year pro needs as many in-game reps as possible. The Bears can't fear injury when it comes to White, even though he's been one of the most oft-injured players in recent team history. Unlike last season, Chicago has several receivers slotted ahead of White on the depth chart and are more than protected against another setback for the former first-round pick. There's no player on the roster who could use extra on-field time more than White.
The backup quarterback is one of the most important positions for any team that wants to make a deep run in the playoffs. The Bears had a decent one last year in Mark Sanchez but should have an upgrade this year with Daniel. That said, he's been paid a boatload of money for a relatively unproven career. He should get a lot of reps Thursday night, giving Bears fans a look at what life would be like in case of a Trubisky emergency.
Wide receiver competition
The backend of the receiver depth chart will be one of the more interesting position battles to watch as training camp continues. Seventh-round pick Javon Wims looks the part and has had some moments in practice. He can build a lot of momentum for himself with a good performance against Baltimore. Veterans Joshua Bellamy, Marlon Brown and Bennie Fowler need big preseasons to earn a spot on the final roster. And then there's Tanner Gentry, last year's training-camp darling, who is certain to make a play or two.
Backup running back
Will the Bears keep four running backs? Maybe. Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen and Benny Cunningham are locks for the final roster, but undrafted rookie Ryan Nall has an appealing combination of size and natural ability to make a strong claim for the final 53. Nall will battle Taquan Mizzell all preseason for a job and the player who gets off to a faster start in the Hall of Fame Game will have a leg up for the rest of the summer.