The Chicago Bears have been in Indianapolis all week in preparation for their game against the Colts, and while several players have stood out during the joint practices, there are still some players looking to make a mark under the lights on Saturday night.
I asked the Windy City Gridiron crew to answer this question.
Who needs to have a big game to help solidify their roster status either as a starter or to make the final 53?
And here’s what they had to say.
Lester A. Wiltfong Jr. – Rookie Noah Sewell was running with the ones during much of the offseason, but against the Titans, he was backing up Jack Sanborn at the strongside linebacker spot. Both Sewell and Sanborn could use a big game to distance themselves from the other to start at the Sam.
Erik Duerrwaechter – Velus Jones Jr., without a doubt, needs his breakthrough performance urgently. We’ve seen rookie Tyler Scott taking reps at receiver, kick, and punt returner away from the 2nd year pro in a very short amount of time. Head Coach Matt Eberflus wasn’t particularly happy when answering questions about what went wrong during Velus’s special teams’ gaffe. There’s a growing sense that patience is being worn out within Halas Hall regarding Velus’s lack of meaningful development. It’s time to have a performance that will give everyone something great to think about. Or, do an about face, and walk out the door.
Josh Sunderbruch – It should be Velus Jones, jr, who has done very little so far to warrant a roster spot in a pleasantly crowded wide receiver room. However, the team seems comfortable with giving him chances. Meanwhile, I’m starting to wonder if Nathan Peterman is going to sneak ahead of P.J. Walker for the QB2 position, so I’ll go with Walker.
Aaron Leming – For me, there are three names.
1. DE Trevis Gipson: He had an outstanding preseason opener with one sack and eight pressures, but he needs to build on that with another big game this Saturday.
2. WR Velus Jones Jr.: What else can be said for the second-year receiver? If he’s not of any value on special teams, does he have a role on this team? These next two games are huge for him.
3. CB Kindle Vildor: Much like Gipson, Vildor came into the preseason needing to prove his value with an inflated fourth-year price tag. It’s also a crowded cornerback room. He didn’t stand out (good or bad) last Saturday, but he’s going to have to start doing some notable things if he plans on making this roster.
I sent this roundtable out to a couple of our podcasters too, and here’s what they had to say.
Dr. Mason West – I’ll take the low-hanging fruit. Velus Jones. He needs a punt return or two, along with some offensive output, to justify his spot as WR 6. Punt returning isn’t easy, and the Titans’ punter has one of the bigger legs in the league, but he misplaced multiple punts outside of the one that resulted in a fumble. The hard part for Velus is that he is more of a gadget guy, and the Bears won’t show much of that in the preseason.
Taylor Doll – I’m going with Velus Jones Jr. here; after another muffed punt in the first preseason game and there already being talks about the talent and depth at the WR position, it is going to be vital he shows he can control those moments to earn a spot on the team. Several times last year, games and momentum were flipped negatively from his mistakes, and although later in the season we saw some progress, it has not been consistent enough. I am rooting for the guy, but from the outside looking in, a monster game may be all that can save him as he sits on the bubble of cuts.
Now it’s your turn; who do you think needs to have a big game to help solidify their roster status, either as a starter or to make the final 53?