After playing an extra preseason game last year, battling the Baltimore Ravens in the Hall of Fame game to kick off MLB Brian Urlacher's Canton enshrinement weekend, the Bears announced their customary four-game exhibition slate for the 2019 season on Tuesday.
The dates and times will be finalized later, but the Bears open the preseason between Aug. 8-11 by hosting the Carolina Panthers. Matt Nagy's club then hits the road in Weeks 2-3, visiting the New York Giants between Aug. 15-18 and the Indianapolis Colts between Aug. 22-25, before returning to Soldier Field to conclude the preseason vs. the Tennessee Titans on Thursday, Aug. 29.
It'll be interesting — at least by preseason standards — to see how Nagy uses his starters in the preseason after resting virtually everyone in the finale a year ago. That was at least in part because the Bears began camp so early to prepare for the extra game. But with another year in the scheme and 20 of 22 combined starters returning, it wouldn't be stunning if he again opts to rest many key players, particularly after the franchise enjoyed its healthiest season in years.
As far as additional preseason intrigue — oxymoron, anyone? — the Panthers almost certainly won't play Cam Newton in the opener after he underwent offseason shoulder surgery, but the Giants figure to have a rookie quarterback taking plenty of reps the following week.
Drawing the Colts, who enjoyed their own swift turnaround under a rookie head coach and won their first playoff game since 2014, in the preseason "dress rehearsal" could provide an interesting measuring stick. Reich was in the running for Coach of the Year honors, which went to Nagy, and Bears GM Ryan Pace was narrowly edged for the PFWA Executive of the Year by Colts GM (and former Bears personnel man) Chris Ballard.