There is only one reason to care about who wins the Bears exhibition season opener with the Denver Broncos at Soldier Field on Thursday night, and if you’re goofy enough to bet on one of these glorified scrimmages, I’m sure there’s nothing I can do to change your mind.
Here is what is worth watching:
New starting quarterback Mike Glennon and the Bears starters healthy enough to go will run somewhere between 10 and 15 plays against one of the best defenses in the NFL.
It is ridiculously early, so the results for the most part will be predictive of nothing or next to it, but it will be fun to see where they’re at right now.
A close eye on Kevin White and Cam Meredith in particular could be instructive as a healthy Denver defense fields the best trio of cornerbacks in the NFL.
The Bears first-team “D” just needs to be ready and aggressive, as we will learn little about them facing a Bronco offense that is unlikely to scare anyone in the foreseeable future.
What really does matter in these practice games are the reps given to second- and third-teamers, and which players take advantage of them to stake a claim to a spot on the final 53-man roster.
That leads me right back to the wideouts.
White, Meredith, Markus Wheaton and Victor Cruz are going to make this football team, and my gut tells me Josh Bellamy will make the roster because of his contributions to special teams and the fact that none of the first four guys will contribute there.
That leaves one spot if the Bears carry six, or possibly two if they carry six and Bellamy isn’t one of them.
Kendall Wright, Rueben Randle and Deonte Thompson all have had their moments in the league, Daniel Braverman was good enough to hang around last year and undrafted rookie free agent Tanner Gentry out of Wyoming has flashed repeatedly in practice.
This is the best roster competition in camp with Wright possibly the leader in the clubhouse right now, but keep an eye on Gentry who is exciting to watch.
Tight end is interesting as well with Dion Sims and Adam Shaheen locks to make it, and Zach Miller, Daniel Brown, Ben Braunecker and MyCole Pruitt duking it out for one or maybe two spots.
Miller should be safe but there are no guarantees, and Brown is a similar but younger version of Miller.
There hasn’t been much conversation about the defensive front where the Bears will carry five or six players. Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman are the only surefire locks but the competition here is interesting.
Jaye Howard should be a lock and may very well be, but he continues to rehab a 2016 hip flexor, and the coaching staff is hoping to see more.
There has been a lot of focus on Jonathan Bullard, and Mitch Unrein has a great shot at being a rotation player, as does C.J. Wilson. But there are a few names you may not be familiar with, such as John Jenkins and Kapron Lewis-Moore, who are flashing occasionally in Bourbonnais as well.
The only room as crowded as the receivers’ is the secondary’s, and the players who will need to make a statement against Denver include Kyle Fuller, Bryce Callahan, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Deon Bush, Sherrick McManis, Harold Jones-Quartey, B. W. Webb, Chris Prosinski, Deiondre’ Hall, Jonathan Banks and DeAndre Houston-Carson. It’s a long list, but with Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper, Quintin Demps and rookie Eddie Jackson the only apparent locks it leaves only five or six spots for those 11 players, all of whom have NFL experience.
• Hub Arkush is executive editor of Pro Football Weekly. Write to him at harkush@profootballweekly, and follow him on Twitter @Hub_Arkush.