It’s about time.
After a few weeks of training camp, the NFL has a slate of eight pre-season matchups tonight to pique a fan’s curiousity. One exhibition game that I’m more than compelled to watch is my hometown Chicago Bears up against the Cam Newton lead Carolina Panthers.
At this point of training camp, this game is exactly what the players need and that’s to beat up and hit someone. Unlike recent camps held by Lovie Smith, new head coach Marc Trestman‘s camp has been fast and furious, where rookie and veteran players can’t check their brains at the door.
However, in the grand scheme of things and as far as the season is concerned, this game won’t mean much come the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals on September 8.
But to the players and coaches, this game is the first litmus test. For those players on the team desperately fighting for a roster spot, this game in full pads and contact will go a long way in ensuring whether they are on the Chicago sideline come the first Sunday of September.
There are lots of unknowns going into this pre-season contest versus the Panthers. For starters, the Bears’ Achilles’ heel the previous few seasons has been the offensive line.
With recently-signed left tackle Jermon Bushrod already ruled out the game with a calf strain, the O line won’t look complete, but the combined might of Roberto Garza, James Brown, Eben Britton, J’Marcus Webb, Matt Slauson and Kyle Long need to imitate the words of Crown Height’s best emcee Rustee Juxx, and “Stand strong.”
First and foremost, if the Bears want their skill-position players such as Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett to have productive seasons. The offensive line needs to show and prove tonight that the O lines of years past are nothing more than a distance memory.
If the line, even in limited attack, looks like a carbon copy, I’d suggest that it might be time for Bears fans to do a tad bit more than ridicule and mock the team’s weak links.