The two main questions Bears are facing in final preseason game


The two main questions Bears are facing in final preseason game

For a team virtually settled on its personnel for most positions, the fourth preseason game is less than insignificant except for a few players still competing for a roster spot on the team or one on somebody else’s roster. The Bears are anything but settled heading into preseason Game 4 Thursday against the Cleveland Browns.

"Being a new staff – being totally honest – we’re evaluating everybody,” said coach John Fox. “We’re only going to be our fourth time Thursday night seeing these guys play in our system. We’re still going to be learning when we get to the regular season. It’s been my experience in two other stops, again it’s not how you start the race, it’s how you finish. We’re getting ready to start that race.”

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Exactly who plays how much and where wasn’t made clear by Fox. But the Bears are unsettled at two-fifths of their offensive line because of performance issues, and fraught with unknowns at wide receiver because of injuries that could force them to use an extra roster spot in order at the position group as a hedge against Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal or Marquess Wilson not holding up in-season or even not being ready to open the season vs. Green Bay.

“As I’ve mentioned a lot of times,” Fox said, “I’d prefer [the receivers] were out here. But until they’re cleared medically, I don’t have them.”

The single most intriguing focus Thursday is on the right side of the Bears’ offensive line. Neither Charles Leno nor Jordan Mills have laid a solid claim on the tackle job that has been Mills’ most of the past two years. Coaches last season considered moving Mills, struggling with a foot injury from Game 16 of the 2013 season, to left guard after injuries to Matt Slauson. His job security hasn’t improved significantly.

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Mills is expected to start at right tackle and Vladimir Ducasse at right guard. The play of each may determine where Pro Bowl right guard Kyle Long is positioned.

“I don’t really have a preference,” Long said. “I’d like to help the team wherever that is. I’m really sincere when I say that. If they ask me to play receiver, I’d be out there running routes now, practicing. It’s football. It’s not that complicated.”

Predicting the value of Roquan Smith's rookie contract with Bears

Predicting the value of Roquan Smith's rookie contract with Bears

Chicago Bears first-round pick Roquan Smith remains unsigned, a situation that prior to the rookie wage scale would've been cause for concern. With contracts now based on slotting, or where a first-round pick is selected, there's little reason or room for agents to haggle over terms. A holdout isn't expected.

There have been some exceptions to this general principle, however. Joey Bosa, who was selected with the third pick by the Chargers in 2016, held out until August 29 over offset language and his signing bonus. So, while a holdout for Smith is unlikely, it's not impossible.

Assuming he agrees to a contract on time, here's what the terms of his deal should look like, according to CBS Sports:

2018 Cap Number: $3,349,485
Signing Bonus: $11,517,940
Four-year value: $18,477,168

If the numbers are correct, Smith will have the 17th-highest cap hit for the Bears in 2018, according to Spotrac. By comparison, Danny Trevathan has a $7.15 million cap hit this season.

Drafting well is critical for long-term success. If a general manager misses on first-round picks, the cap consequences mount over time. Consider Kevin White, the seventh-overall pick in 2015. He has zero touchdowns in his pro career but has a $5.27 million cap hit this year. Leonard Floyd, the team's first-rounder in 2016, has a $4.30 million cap hit and Mitch Trubisky, last year's second pick overall, is $6.59 million. Pace's four first-round picks, when counting Smith's expected deal, are four of the top-17 paid players on the payroll even though none of them have the production to back it up.

Smith, however, is as close to a bust-free prospect as the Bears have drafted in Pace's tenure. He was considered one of the best pure football players in the entire 2018 draft class and will start immediately alongside Trevathan as a rookie, assuming he's under contract in time to contribute in Week 1.

Which Bears have the highest player rating in Madden 19?

Which Bears have the highest player rating in Madden 19?

The time has come to start counting down to the release of Madden 19. The most popular football video game franchise of all-time is set to release in early August and as is a tradition with the weeks leading up to the game appearing on store shelves, leaks about features and player ratings have started.

Here are the highest rated Bears players in this year's edition:

Adrian Amos leads the way with an 88 rating, followed by Akiem Hicks (85) and Allen Robinson (85). 

Chicago's offense received a 75 overall rating, which should result in a significant challenge for Bears fans trying to score virtual points later this summer. The defense, however, will be stout, coming in with an overall rating of 81. Amos and Hicks have a lot to do with that.

Ratings are subject to change due to injury. Madden 19 is scheduled for release on August 10.