NEWARK, N.J. -- The left tackle competition headlines the position battles, but there are other areas to keep an eye on as the Chicago Bears take on the New York Giants in their third preseason game on Friday night. Here are three to watch:
Bears pass rush: Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of last week’s game against the Washington Redskins was the play of veteran defensive end Israel Idonije, who registered 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble deep in Redskins’ territory that the Bears eventually turned into a touchdown. With Giants left tackle Will Beatty expected to be sidelined with back issues, the Bears defensive line, led by Idonie and Julius Peppers, could be in store for another big night. This is also another chance for defensive tackle Matt Toeaina to impress the coaching staff as Stephen Paea remains out due to a sprained ankle, as well as Nate Collins, who has been one of the pleasant surprises of camp. Even though Collins is set to be suspended for Week 1 of the regular season, the Bears will strongly consider holding a roster spot for the athletic tackle.
No. 3 RB: The release of Kahlil Bell on Thursday night has opened the door for Armando Allen or Lorenzo Booker to earn a spot on the final 53-man roster. Both tailbacks have stood out in the preseason, but neither really gives the Bears much on special teams. Of course, Booker had a terrific 105-yard kickoff return touchdown against Washington, but the Bears’ return jobs are already taken by Devin Hester and Eric Weems. Allen gives the Bears a player who can operate in space, while Booker might be the better all-around running back. It’s just a matter of what the Bears are looking for. Allen also helped his cause by showcasing his ability to pick up the blitz in the second preseason game, something Bell struggled to do.
Ryan Quigley: This is a wonderful opportunity for the undrafted rookie free agent punter out of Boston College to put some good punts on film. That being said, the odds of the Bears opening the season with a punter without any NFL experience -- in the event Adam Podlesh has to miss a few weeks because of a hip flexor strain -- are not very good. A more likely scenario would be for the Bears to pick up Spencer Lanning if he fails to win the starting punting job in Cleveland, or eventually place a call to Brad Maynard after Week 1. The Bears might already have their punter plan in place, but a good effort by Quigley on Friday would help out his prospects of being an NFL punter.