The depth Phil Emery's built on this Bears roster has created job competition in starting and backup roles. So that makes these usually boring preseason games more interesting to watch once the stars and starters get through their series or two. There's much more at each of these positions to observe tonight at Soldier Field, but here's who I'm most interested in checking out:
Defensive line: Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton
How can the second- and third-rounders fare in their respective debuts? We get a much better idea tonight than we have so far during friendlier snaps in Lake Forest and Bourbonnais. This truly is the starting point for the two projected starting interior linemen of the future. We'll look for encouraging signs they're that, and not Marcus Harrison, Dusty Dvoracek or Jarron Gilbert.
[MORE: Sorting out fight for two LB spots]
Linebacker: Shea McClellin and Christian Jones
New position coach Reggie Herring says he likes what he's seen so far in the converted defensive end. Based on the switch, figure McClellin to get more playing time tonight. Can he identify, pursue, read and disengage? As for Jones - man, he looks great. Now it's a matter of showing signs of that in game action, including special teams. But as Dan Durkin of CBSChicago.com noted on the sidelines during Family Fest last week: Did he start at three different linebacker positions at Florida State because he was versatile, or because he couldn't master any of them?
Cornerback: Kyle Fuller
But of course.
Safety: Adrian Wilson
The coaching staff would love to see the guy from 3-4 years ago to provide just the right dose of nasty to the secondary. He's still big. Can he still run after the heel issue last year and 12 years of NFL tread on those tires? Or did the year off rejuvenate him? If he stays, he starts, because he's not a special teams player.
Quarterback: Jordan Palmer and Jimmy Clausen
Who else? Who takes the early lead in the Jordan & Jimmy Show? Is Palmer thinking too much and is Clausen gaining on him as everyone seems to believe?
Running back: Ka`Deem Carey
4,200 rushing yards, a 5.7-yard average and 48 touchdowns in three years at Arizona (two as starter)? A two-time consensus First Team All-America? A 4th-round draft pick? He SHOULD be the answer as Matt Forte's backup. We'll start to see if that slow 40 time matters at this level.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Right tackle
Regardless of whether Jordan Mills plays after soreness developed in his surgically repaired left foot, his is the only position where starting competition could take place. Mills was good last year but he'll need to keep getting better. Eben Britton won't play tonight either, and he's the most likely candidate to push Mills.
Tight End: Matthew Mulligan and Zach Miller
Can Mulligan catch if a few passes are thrown his way and can Miller win his blocking duties? If either shows signs of shoring up those weaknesses in their respective games, they could push Dante Rosario to be Martellus Bennett's backup.
Wide Receiver: Chris Williams
He's shown at both Halas Hall and Olivet Nazarene he can get open and catch the ball. Can he do it at Soldier Field and show he's dangerous in the return game?
Punter: Pat O'Donnell
A sixth-round investment, he's sprinkled in a few "doinks" among his "Mega-punts." Make the fans and Joe DeCamillis as much of a believer as Phil Emery.