(Mandatory Photo Credit: Evan Habeeb, USA Today Sports)
FOOTBALL IS BACK.
I know many fans won’t completely agree, since this is the first in a long line of preseason games before the real games begin in September. But, for those of us that hunger for football to be back once the draft concludes, this is still a form of Christmas. Seeing players back in pads again putting in meaningful snaps to make a team provides plenty of intrigue to analysts and fans alike.
Tonight, the Bears face off against the Ravens in the Hall of Fame Game, a game that celebrates the new inductees to the NFL Hall of Fame. This will be a very intriguing game, with hype surrounding the Bears and new Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. Let’s take a look at five guys to watch heading into tonight’s game.
1. Lamar Jackson
This is the most obvious selection here. Lamar Jackson dazzled us all in college with his electric playmaking ability. Now, he will get his first game action against NFL players tonight. Everyone wants to see if Jackson has what it takes to improve as a pocket passer, while another group of people are waiting to make remarks for him to move to wide receiver. He’s a quarterback people, so get used to it. We might even get to see meaningful game snaps this year from him. Get ready for fireworks from Jackson.
2. Anthony Miller
Miller has claim as the best route runner to come out in the 2018 draft class. Now, he gets to show the world what they missed when he takes the field. As high as Miller went in the draft, it’s likely we will see him early on in 2018 as the third receiver behind Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel. If he shows out big in the preseason, the Bears might get him on the field for more snaps.
3. Kylie Fitts
This name is a little more off the beaten path for fans and growing analysts, but Kylie Fitts has some traits that make him a potential steal. Fitts should get plenty of snaps in the preseason, and we could see some of his promise tonight. With guys like Leonard Floyd still looking to breakout, Fitts has a chance to make some headway in August and get himself in the rotation on the edge in 2018.
4. Anthony Averett
Averett landed in Baltimore in the draft back in April, and he has a chance to show he can get significant slot snaps in 2018. He has the speed and discipline to play corner, as his tape at Alabama showed. He just needs to improve his route recognition and footwork, and an extra preseason game gives him a chance at more reps.
5. Adam Shaheen
The second year tight end in Chicago is ready to show he can breakout and be a big part of the Bears offense. He has some competition this season with the Bears adding Trey Burton. However, Shaheen has that Travis-Kelce-type of potential, so seeing some promise in the preseason can go a long way. He is a big body who, if he develops, can be a problem for defenses in the future.
BONUS: Tyus Bowser
A little bonus for you guys here. Bowser was drafted by Baltimore in 2017, and he’s looking to get on the field more. The Ravens have him listed as a SAM backer on their depth chart, but he did a great job in college rushing the passer. He needs to find his niche on that defense to get on the field more this season.
Enjoy the game tonight football fans! No more weeks without football until February!!