BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – First and fourth preseason games are not typically crucial referendums on lineup decisions. But with injuries mounting on one side of the ball and years on the other, plans for who plays and who sits on Friday night vs. the Philadelphia Eagles was shrouded in some mystery as a light practice wrapped up on Wednesday.
Right guard Kyle Long (ankle) and Jordan Mills (foot) sat out Wednesday’s practice and wide receiver Brandon Marshall did only individual work as the offense went through final preparations for the preseason iteration of the Philadelphia defense that held the Bears to their lowest points (11) and yardage (257) totals of the 2013 season.
On the other side of the ball, end Jared Allen remained with his wife for the birth of their baby, while tackle Jeremiah Ratliff sat out most of practice, and cornerback Tim Jennings remained sidelined letting a quad strain heal. Which of them, if any, play against Philadelphia is unclear, and the Bears are expected to play linebacker Lance Briggs and cornerback Charles Tillman little if at all.
The common theme through those five starters is that all are 30-plus, and all are Pro Bowl veterans with little to prove to coaches, while their backups do.
Whatever decisions coaches reached were not being offered on Wednesday, with the players mentioned as well as quarterback Jay Cutler, center Roberto Garza and running back Matt Forte specifically.
“We’ll let our players know tomorrow how we are going to play them, but right now we expect everybody to play,” said coach Marc Trestman. “And certainly that can change over the next 48 hours.”
Expect it to.
The Bears already are going to be without swing tackle Eben Britton and cornerback Isaiah Frey, both out with hamstring injuries. Tight end Martellus Bennett’s status is uncertain after his indefinite suspension was handed down on Tuesday, and wide receiver Marquess Wilson is out for some time after surgery to repair a broken clavicle.