'Salty' in Seattle: Right test at right time for Bears

'Salty' in Seattle: Right test at right time for Bears
August 21, 2014, 9:30 pm
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If you're going to find out how good you are, you'd might as well play the best. In their house.

The Bears couldn't ask for a better third preseason game than Friday night's perfect storm in Seattle, where their talent and upside, toughness and discipline, communication and eardrums will be put to the test. The final score won't necessarily prove anything, but we should get a better handle of some lingering questions, not only in position battles but in the level of which their stars compete against a largely-intact Super Bowl winning squad that isn't shy about setting a tone and showing its swagger.

I can't wait to see what Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett can do against Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith (the latter two returning from injuries that have limited them in training camp). I'm anxious to see if the offensive line can manage to get anything going for Matt Forte against their Seahawks' opponents, who are short on superstars but developed into the most effective defensive line rotation in the league a year ago.

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To accomplish anything, the offense will have to be as "salty" as defensive coordinator Mel Tucker proclaimed back in June his revamped side of the ball to be. Now, we get a truer measure of whether that's an accurate description amid the "CLink Chaos." Seattle gets starting linemen Russell Okung and Max Unger back in their lineup to battle in the trenches against three highly regarded and decorated Bears veterans who weren't on the team a year ago in Jared Allen, Jeremiah Ratliff and Lamarr Houston, not to mention Willie Young. And when the champs win those battles, how will Shea McClellin, Jonathan Bostic, D.J. Williams and Lance Briggs handle Marshawn Lynch (playing in his first exhibition) in the second level? And that's not even mentioning the effectiveness of the revolving door of candidates at safety, where Ryan Mundy has all but locked-up one starting job, with three or four other possibilities helping the coaching staff determine whether they're a starter, a backup or headed for the streets.

That's just scratching the surface over numerous storylines that will or won't play out. The third exhibition is far from a team's final answer in what they could evolve into over the course of a regular season. But if we're getting at least one half of football from each team's starters, we'll get our best preseason idea over how well the Bears — at this point — can hang with the very best after their offensive evolution a year ago. And we'll get a better glimpse if that similar turnover to fix the defensive side might be able to provide a comparable turnaround.