10 Bears to watch vs. Jaguars in preseason tonight
BY ADAM L. JAHNS Staff Reporter August 13, 2014 10:08PM
Updated: August 14, 2014 4:28PM
Everything that made Jimmy Clausen a five-star recruit in high school, a prolific passer at Notre Dame and a high-round draft pick appears to be re-emerging.
Take wide receiver Alshon Jeffery’s word for it.
“Jimmy was the No. 1 quarterback [in the country] back in high school, wasn’t he?” Jeffery said. “Jimmy’s just letting it rip. Jimmy’s doing what he does.”
And if he does well Thursday night against the Jaguars, the backup job behind Jay Cutler should be firmly in his hands. Clausen promised a similar approach to his first exhibition game against the Eagles — “I did all right. I made some plays,” he said — but because he gets the ball first after Cutler, he tops this week’s list of players to watch in the Bears’ second preseason game.
With a healthy throwing shoulder, Clausen might become coach Marc Trestman’s next success story. Clausen’s higher ceiling and overall potential could make the difference in his competition with Jordan Palmer.
“There are great minds here,” said Clausen, referring to Trestman and quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh. ‘‘I’m trying to pick their brains as much as I can and get more familiar with the offense.”
Jordan Palmer, QB
To keep things competitive with Clausen, Palmer will have to show he can move an offense full of second- and third-stringers just like Clausen did last week. Palmer is coming off an erratic week of practice, which included interceptions by defensive end Willie Young and safety Chris Conte.
Michael Ford, RB
Ford has tumbled down the depth chart, trailing Shaun Draughn and rookie Ka’Deem Carey in the race to back up Matt Forte. He found a job on special teams last year, but that might not save him this season.
Zach Miller, TE
Miller followed up his two-touchdown performance against the Eagles with impressive practices in Bourbonnais. He might turn out to be the Bears’ next-best receiving option after losing Marquess Wilson. “He’s a good weapon,” offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said.
Chris Conte, FS
If Conte plays, every snap will be scrutinized because of his rough 2013 season. If his shoulder keeps him out, doubts will grow about the time he has left to impress the Bears.
Adrian Wilson, SS
In his first game in almost a year last week against the Eagles, the 34-year-old veteran said he felt better with every play, especially in the third quarter. “He was in his spot most of the night, so that was a good thing,” secondary coach Jon Hoke said. Can he repeat it?
Michael Ola, OL
Injuries to Jordan Mills, Eben Britton and Brian de la Puente have led to abundant work with the first-team offense for Ola. But improvement is needed. According to Pro Football Focus’ analysis, Ola was the Bears’ lowest-rated offensive player against the Eagles.
Jon Bostic, LB
Shea McClellin’s transition to linebacker has earned more headlines, but Bostic wasn’t able to turn a strong camp into a strong performance in the first preseason game. “Shea and [Bostic] are still works in progress,” linebackers coach Reggie Herring said.
Eric Weems, KR
Special-teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis wants to see more from Weems as a kick returner and said more reps are coming. With Chris Williams out with a hamstring injury, the return duties are fast becoming Weems’ to lose. Can Micheal Spurlock or Armanti Edwards find ways to outshine him?
Nate Collins, DT
The Bears remain high on Collins, who has made an impressive recovery from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. But a solid outing is required to improve his standing, especially with rookie tackles Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton ahead of him.