By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
We have reached the end of preseason football fans — woot, woot!!
All NFL fans are rejoicing the end of the off-season and now the real games can begin. But before the fun and festivities of the season starts, teams must handle their business in the final preseason game then cut down the roster to their final 53. It has been a relatively quiet preseason and training camp for the Bears.
Usually at this time their are a few headlines, simply speculation on some players health at the least. This year is different because everything to this point is indicating the team will be healthy and confident for Week 1. In all likelihood, cut day will be one of the biggest newsworthy days for the Bears since the start of training camp.
Plenty of mystery surrounds what the Bears might do with the roster to get to 53. Some players that have talent will not be apart of the “opening day” roster because many will be receiving the dreaded pink slip. A good problem for the team to have but sadly a harsh reality for some players.
Fans looking for intrigue in tonight’s game need not worry because at the very least, one player is under a huge spotlight in kicker Eddy Pineiro. Although most of the players playing tonight will not make the Bears roster, expect a highly competitive game from players trying to keep their NFL careers alive. Lets take a look at some things to watch for tonight.
Kicking Search Wraps Up — It will about 72 hours that Bears fans will know who the kicker for the start of the season will be. Pineiro will be doing all the kicking in tonight’s game and have another chance to cement his spot.
Last week, Pineiro got his big shot with the stage to himself as the last kicker standing, and he did not disappoint going five for five in field goals and PATS including a 58 yard kick. What Pineiro does in Thursday’s game of the preseason could be potentially the deciding factor for whether the Bears choose to go with another kicker.
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Pineiro definitely has the leg but the concern is on his consistency and accuracy. He showed that neither was a problem in last week’s game and it is critical for him to go out and show it again. Head coach Matt Nagy isn’t expecting every kick to go through the upright but he does expect a performance worthy of taking Pineiro into the regular season.
Depth Spots Across the Roster — Since we as fans will not know until mid afternoon on Saturday as to what the final roster will look like, therefore, we can only speculate as to how many guys are on the bubble playing tonight.
There is legitimate wonder seemingly across the board about all the positions group on the team. For example, how many running backs the team will keep, usually the number is four but arguments can be made for keeping five. The same thoughts go for the tight ends, linebackers, defensive and offensive line, defensive back and core special teamers that aren’t kickers or punters.
The Bears will likely have some guys playing tonight that will be on the final 53, perhaps their performance will be the final decision maker on some of these extra depth spots.
One week from Thursday, the team will be getting ready to play in Soldier Field to kick off the NFL’s and the Bears 100th season. What an epic start to the season for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.
Enjoy these final moments of the off-season as the Bears have hopefully accomplished what they needed to do to have itself right for Week 1.
Injury-wise the team is perfect all things considered and all signs point to a team prepared and ready for the season after the rigors of off-season and pre-season practice.
The team is ready along with all of us fans, happy final preseason game Bears fans, hear is to what hopefully will be a story book ending to the first 100 years of the Bears.
Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and professional football for WARR