Chicago Bears head to Seattle with major roster questions

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Chicago Bears safety Chris Conte

The Chicago Bears enter arguably the most important week of the NFL preseason with more questions than most teams would want to have answered.

The Seattle Seahawks are the perfect test for a Bears team trying to gauge how likely it is for the team to be considered a real threat in a stacked NFC. Heading out on the road to one of the toughest NFL stadiums to play in, to take on a very good conference foe is no easy task, and the Bears will be going into Friday’s game with major questions in all three phases of the game.

Battle at WR3

Marquess Wilson was the odds on favorite to win the third wide receiver position prior to fracturing his collarbone.

Eric Weems did his best to lose the chance to be the third wideout, and in the process lost his job. The addition of noted crotch selfie-taker Santonio Holmes is a low-risk move that can’t be any worse than the collection of receivers on the current roster. If Alshon Jeffery or Brandon Marshall get hurt, the Bears are in trouble. Holmes or one of Josh Morgan, Josh Bellamy and Armanti Edwards has to show any ability to get open in the pass game.

Back-up RB

Shaun Draughn has done as much as he possibly can to earn touches behind Matt Forte. Rookie 4th-round pick Ka’Deem Carey has been just okay so far. There is no chance he gets cut, but he is facing an uphill battle to get on the field with the offense. Unless Draughn gets hurt, he should be Forte’s relief.

No, Jordan Lynch isn’t an option.

Back-up QB

Jordan Palmer, your rocket to the sun is ready.

Offensive Line

Get healthy. Get repetitions. Back-up linemen Michael Ola, James Brown and Charles Leno, Jr. need to show they can be trusted if starters Kyle Long and Jordan Mills continue to fight injuries. Not having the entire right side of the offensive line on the sideline is one of the worst-case scenarios heading into Week 1 of the regular season.

Strong Side LB

This is one of the weakest links on the Bears team. The best option is Jon Bostic, but he is better suited playing the weak side currently occupied by Lance Briggs. Shea McClellin is getting plenty of looks and is no guarantee to get majority of the snaps opposite Briggs. If/when the Chicago Bears are in their base 4-3 package (4 linemen, 3 linebackers), opposing defense will feast on the 2012 1st round draft pick. “Velcro,” as Shea is rightfully nicknamed, is a run game’s meal ticket. Bostic and/or McClellin have to make major strides in the next two games to give the Bears some sense of relief at the outside linebacker position.

Middle LB

There is no guarantee D.J. Williams earns the middle linebacker job. He has a golden opportunity to gain the edge in the middle against one of the best running games in football anchored by running back Marshawn Lynch and quarterback Russell Wilson.

Bostic has also been getting time in the middle. He looks like Chicago’s best cover linebacker, but needs to show he can play during all three downs.

Safety

Does the Chicago Bears coaching staff know who their starting safeties are? The rotating last line of defense should scare fans. Chris Conte will start if he is healthy. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing with the defensive line getting the upgrades it desperately needed.

Adrian Wilson has shown very little to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. There was a lot of buzz around Wilson being a savior, if healthy. Ryan Mundy has been alright, and rookie Brock Vereen still has a lot to prove to earn consistent snaps. Danny McCray is making a real push for playing time at the strong side position and could earn consistent playing time with a strong showing Friday.

The safety position is a mess.

Special Teams

Special Teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis may not want to have his bags completely unpacked. The special teams coverage has been spotty at best, and part of that is on DeCamillis. Sure, the talent given to him may not be the best you’ll ever see, but a good coordinator can make magic with some of the raw talent that the Chicago Bears have depth-wise. LBs Christian Jones and Jordan Senn, CBs Sherrick McManis and C.J. Wilson have the ability to anchor a good-but-not-great special teams unit.

Returners Michael Spurlock and Chris Williams have had success on different levels, but can’t be successful without good blocking or good health.

In order to feel somewhat better going into the start of the NFL season, the Chicago Bears need to have at least two of the above questions smoothed after heading into Friday’s twilight. If not, pray for much better health than the team has received so far during the preseason.

Jeff is a production assistant @120Sports and contributor to hockey, football, and baseball for The Sports Bank. Follow him on Twitter @skcih_ffej.

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