The Jacksonville Jaguars will take on the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field this Thursday in Week 2 of the NFL preseason. Each team walked away with a win in their preseason opener, but this time of the year is less about wins and losses and more about roster evaluation.
The Jaguars dealt with talk of a quarterback controversy this week after rookie Blake Bortles‘ impressive debut against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The first-round pick went 7-of-11 for 117 yards, while starter Chad Henne went just 4-of-7 for 30 yards.
Any talk of a controversy was squashed by head coach Gus Bradley, as it was announced that Henne would play the entire first half against the Bears, with Bortles taking over after halftime. However, Bortles is expected to see some time with the starters before the preseason is complete.
After dominating the Buccaneers offensive line to the tune of three sacks and pressure from multiple quarterbacks, the Jaguars defensive front will face a much tougher test this week. The Bears return all five starters from last year’s offensive line that allowed the fourth-fewest sacks in the league. It will be interesting to see if Chris Clemons and the rest of the Jaguars’ revamped defensive line will have as much success as they did against the lowly Buccaneers.
For the Bears, all eyes will be on Shea McClellin. The former 2012 first-round pick has been making the transition from defensive end to linebacker and struggled in his first go-around against the Philadelphia Eagles in the preseason opener.
The Bears remain optimistic about McClellin’s transition, but after two lackluster seasons at defensive end, this could be his last chance to prove his worth before being labeled a bust. The only way for him to improve is with more reps, so we should see plenty of McClellin against the Jaguars.
The Bears also have a hotly contested position battle that is far from decided. Jordan Palmer and Jimmy Clausen continue to fight it out for the right to be Jay Cutler‘s backup. Each player made a strong case in the opener. Palmer overcame an interception and ended up going 8-of-11 for 104 yards and a touchdown. Clausen connected on 7-of-13 for 150 yards and two touchdowns. They will both need to have a good game against the Jaguars to try and distance themselves from their counterpart.
No matter what the outcome is to Thursday’s game, it should be fun to watch these storylines play out.