Injuries give Chicago Bears backups chance to shine

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • With several Chicago Bears starters, including offensive tackle Kyle Long above, sidelined with injures, some backups will get an opportunity to see how they fit in with the first team when the Bears take on the Kansas City Chiefs at noon on Saturday.

    With several Chicago Bears starters, including offensive tackle Kyle Long above, sidelined with injures, some backups will get an opportunity to see how they fit in with the first team when the Bears take on the Kansas City Chiefs at noon on Saturday. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 8/26/2016 6:16 PM

Because several Bears starters or situational players are likely to miss Saturday's third preseason game with injuries, some backups will get an opportunity to see how they fit in with the first team.

Starters will see the most playing time of the preseason when the Bears take on the Kansas City Chiefs at noon. Most of the first-teamers are expected to play into the third quarter. The additional time in the spotlight will benefit some and expose others.

 

"We've already formulated some sort of opinion on every player," coach John Fox said, "and we have two more opportunities."

Cornerback Kyle Fuller (knee), right guard Kyle Long (shoulder) and nickel cornerback Bryce Callahan (hamstring) are not expected to play because they have not practiced this week. Tight end Zach Miller and wide receiver Eddie Royal, neither of whom played in the first two preseason games, are also not expected to play. Both practiced all week but were exempt from contact as they continue to work back from concussions.

"It helped that we've got some young guys from a year ago that we were able to evaluate on a full regular-season situation," Fox said, with an eye toward the cutdown to 75 players on Aug. 30. "We get an opportunity to look at some different guys, maybe even in different positions, which is all part of getting through an NFL season."

Callahan is one of those young players from last year; an undrafted rookie who started three games in 2015 as the third corner when the Bears opened in nickel defense. But if Callahan and Fuller are out, rookie Deiondre Hall should get first-team snaps and so, too, should second-year man Jacoby Glenn, if he's deemed healthy enough. Glenn returned to full practice for the first time Thursday after missing time with a concussion.

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Hall and Glenn both played well enough in training camp and earlier in the preseason to get longer looks. Their time could increase even more if the other starting cornerback, Tracy Porter, hasn't recovered from the illness that kept him out of Thursday's practice.

Long's absence, combined with the season-ending knee injury to center Hroniss Grasu in training camp, has already thrown the offensive line into disarray. The fallout has left Cornelius Edison, a practice squad player last year as an undrafted rookie from Portland State, as the No. 1 center.

Fox didn't exactly offer a strong vote of confidence when asked if he was comfortable with Edison working with the first team.

"I think they determine that," Fox said. "I'm comfortable with whoever's available. Nobody comes and rescues you in this business, so we're comfortable putting him out there. He's been at practice, been part of our team. We'll see how he performs."

Once Long returns, hopefully in time for the regular-season opener, Larsen will move back to the middle, but Edison could establish himself as the Bears' top backup inside.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Without Miller, the bevy of Bears tight ends battling for backup spots will get more opportunities. Two veterans appear to be the early leaders in the clubhouse on the basis of their performance last week vs. the Patriots.

Tony Moeaki had 4 catches for 28 yards but came out of the game with a hamstring injury, although he has returned to practice. Another veteran, Rob Housler, had a 52-yard reception and caught a 2-point conversion pass.

In Royal's absence, Josh Bellamy has a team-best 5 catches and 56 yards, solidifying a spot he may have gotten a leg up on last year when he had 19 receptions, 224 yards and 2 touchdowns and started three games.

Starters are not expected to make more than a token appearance, if they play at all, in the final preseason game, Thursday, Sept. 1 at Cleveland against the Browns. The final cutdown to 53 players is two days later.

• Follow Bob's Bears reports on Twitter @BobLeGere.

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