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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Brendan Sugrue

10 Bears players to watch on Saturday vs. Colts

Preseason game No. 2 is on deck for the Chicago Bears this weekend as they prepare to take on the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. This week’s squad will look a bit different than the one that took down the Tennessee Titans 23-17 last weekend, however.

According to head coach Matt Eberflus, quarterback Justin Fields and a few other select starters will not suit up,  The Bears coaching staff believes Fields and others put in plenty of work this week when they held two joint practices with the Colts at their facilities in Westfield, IN.

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Even with some of the starters out, there are still many intriguing players worth watching as the Bears look to solidify their team. Many backups and reserves will receive more playing time as a result of Eberflus’ decision, which will help determine the back half of the roster as the regular season inches closer.

Here are 10 players we’ll be watching when the Bears and Colts kick off on Saturday evening at 6 pm CT.

1. QB Tyson Bagent

Chicago Bears quarterback Tyson Bagent (17) throws against the Tennessee Titans during the second half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) ORG XMIT: AZMY154

With Fields not playing on Saturday, that leaves more opportunities for Chicago’s other three quarterbacks, namely Tyson Bagent. The undrafted rookie out of Shepherd shined in his preseason debut last week, going 4-of-5 for 37 yards with a quarterback rating of 97.5.

P.J. Walker and Nathan Peterman will likely see reps before Bagent but Fields’ absence means he should get in the game faster. Let’s see if he can build on his first outing and light a fire under the veterans ahead of him.

2. RB D'Onta Foreman

Aug 12, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears running back D’Onta Foreman (21) is tackled up by Tennessee Titans linebacker Ben Niemann (47), left and outside linebacker Rashad Weaver (99) in the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: IMAGN-710965 ORIG FILE ID: 20230812_sjb_qt0_016.JPG

Unless Eberflus pulls a fast one on us, D’Onta Foreman shouldn’t be among the veterans who will be getting a day off on Saturday. The running back arguably had the quietest performance of the position group last week against the Titans, carrying the ball three times for nine yards. If Khalil Herbert sits, Foreman should be in line to be the starting back.

Rookie Roschon Johnson will be the player everyone is looking forward to seeing at the position, but he received 12 carries last week – the most of any back on the team. Let’s see what Foreman can do in this offense before the season begins.

3. WR Daurice Fountain

Aug 12, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Daurice Fountain (82) catches a 25-yard pass in front of Tennessee Titans cornerback Anthony Kendall (40) in the second half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: IMAGN-710965 ORIG FILE ID: 20230812_sjb_qt0_043.JPG

Someone’s going to need to catch passes from the quarterbacks on Saturday. Why not Daurice Fountain? With D.J. Moore likely getting the day off and injuries plaguing Chase Claypool, Tyler Scott, and Velus Jones Jr., the wide receiver corps could be thinner than usual this week. Fountain has had a nice couple of days at the joint practices and made a spectacular highlight during last weekend’s preseason game.

Fountain is a big receiver with plenty of speed. He connected with Bagent in last week’s game and could be in for another good day this Saturday. He’s still a longshot to make the team but this could be his best chance yet to make a statement.

4. TE Robert Tonyan

Aug 12, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears tight end Robert Tonyan (18) leaves the field at halftime during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: IMAGN-710965 ORIG FILE ID: 20230812_szo_bb6_0031 .JPG

The one thing missing from last week’s festivities at Soldier Field? The tight ends. Only one Bears tight end was targeted last week (Stephen Carlson who caught one pass) and with multiple receivers dealing with injuries, they might be utilized more often on Saturday. Assuming that’s the case, Robert Tonyan could be the player to flash.

There’s a chance Cole Kmet sits for this game, leaving Tonyan with ample opportunities to make plays as the TE1. A good tight end is a backup quarterback’s best friend and Tonyan connected with both Walker and Bagent this week during joint practices. Expect him to see a few targets and maybe even snag a touchdown.

5. C Doug Kramer

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

At long last, Doug Kramer played his first professional football game last Saturday. The second-year center missed his entire rookie season due to a foot injury and has seen quite a bit of playing time as the backup to Cody Whitehair. Now with Whitehair dealing with a hand injury, Kramer is set to see the bulk of the snaps and has a golden opportunity in front of him.

Kramer was solid while in action against the Titans. So solid in fact that he earned the second-highest PFF grade among centers (82.1) from the first week of the preseason via Kirsten Tanis. If he keeps putting together productive game reps, he might even earn the backup job over Lucas Patrick, who has been dealing with injuries for much of camp.

6. OL Alex Leatherwood

Chicago Bears offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood (72) runs a drill during an NFL football joint practice with the Indianapolis Colts at the Colts’ training camp in Westfield, Ind., Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) ORG XMIT: INMC107

Another reserve offensive lineman who shined during the first week of the preseason is Alex Leatherwood. The former first-round pick has been mostly an afterthought since he was claimed off waivers from the Las Vegas Raiders last year, but he’s had a nice camp and preseason up to this point. Leatherwood has played primarily left guard and is making a case to remain on the roster when the regular season begins.

If the Bears choose to sit Teven Jenkins on Saturday, Leatherwood would be in line to start. It could be a big game for No. 72 if he’s able to protect the quarterbacks.

7. DT Travis Bell

Aug 12, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears defensive tackle Travis Bell (73) celebrates his sack against the Tennessee Titans during the second half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The reserve defensive front four got after the quarterback last week with eight sacks, but the most notable one arguably came from rookie defensive tackle Travis Bell. The seventh-round draft selection worked his way into the game in the second half and began making some noise. He totaled two tackles, half a sack, and one QB hit. His sack play featured one impressive high kick as the Bears sideline went crazy.

Bell seems to be a popular play in the Bears locker room and is someone who is easy to support. He’s the first player drafted from Kennesaw State and plays with a unique passion. Even if he isn’t as impactful as he was last week, Bell is going to give it his all on Saturday.

8. DE Trevis Gipson

Chicago Bears linebacker Trevis Gipson (99) sacks Tennessee Titans quarterback Malik Willis (7) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Melissa Tamez) ORG XMIT: NYOTK

Perhaps no Bears player helped their stock more than defensive end Trevis Gipson after last week’s game. The veteran pass rusher balled out with five tackles, one sack, and two QB hits. But even on plays where he didn’t show up on the stat sheet, Gipson was making a big impact for the rest of the defensive line. He was in the backfield often last weekend.

Gipson is seemingly fighting for a roster spot and is looking to prove he’s a viable option on the defensive line. It would be a surprise to see him slow down now, regardless of when he enters the game. Even if you’re not looking for him, Gipson is going to flash.

9. LB Micah Baskerville

Tennessee Titans running back Julius Chestnut (36) is hit by Chicago Bears linebacker Micah Baskerville during the second half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) ORG XMIT: AZMY148

The Bears are stacked at linebacker, but one undrafted rookie continues to make noise whenever he’s on the field. Whether it’s against his own team or the Colts, Micah Baskerville finds a way to make big plays. He’s shown up with big interceptions and had a nice couple practices against the Colts offense.

It’s not just practices where he’s showing up, though. Baskerville played well last week against the Titans, notching five total tackles, one sack, and one QB hit. Can he turn into this year’s Jack Sanborn and force his way onto the roster? Saturday’s game might go a long way in answering that question.

10. CB Terell Smith

Chicago Bears defensive back Terell Smith (32) works on the field during NFL football OTA practice in Lake Forest, Ill., Tuesday, May 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) ORG XMIT: ILNH110

After missing a few practices and last week’s game, rookie cornerback Terell Smith is back in action and should be ready to go this weekend. It’s an important one for him, too. Smith was in competition for one of the starting cornerback positions with fellow rookie Tyrique Stevenson. But it seems Stevenson has pulled away after stringing together solid practices and playing well against the Titans.

Smith is still in the mix though and has a chance to solidify a position on the team over the next couple of weeks. Like Stevenson last week, Smith should get plenty of snaps on Saturday and could make a big impact against the Colts receivers.

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