The real preseason story about the Chicago Bears defense is all the young talent that will be on display during these four games. No one will be paying much attention to these preseason games, but the players mentioned in the follow on blog all could legitimately represent the future of this franchise post Briggs, Peppers, Tillman and Urlacher.
What is the talent like that each one of these players possesses? Are they starters in the making? The youth is there and from what we've seen this early in training camp, there is some legitimate perhaps starter level talent at key positions. Preseason football 2012 will go a long way towards determining just how big the holes on defense in the future will be.
As much as the media wants to make it a story, Brian Urlacher missing six practices or the rest of training camp isn't a story. News will be made when Urlacher misses the opener against the Colts. Until then there will be plenty to watch on defense in the preseason opener against the Broncos.
Connected to the Brian Urlacher absence is the middle linebacker position and Nick Roach manning that spot. Roach may play some, but as expected the time has come for Dom DeCicco. This is a story I've been talking about for a long time, and it's time to strap on the pads and get it on with DeCicco, perhaps playing most of the game, maybe 80% of the snaps on defense.
Let's see what this kid is made of and if he can be a starter in the NFL some day. Preseason games are the ideal place for a player like DeCicco to come up and stand out. He's done it throughout camp on a consistent basis over the last two weeks.
DeCicco now needs to show up and be the leading tackler on defense against the Broncos. If what he has done throughout camp shows up against the Broncos, DeCicco becomes a story for the next three weeks.
Okay Corey Wootton, how about you not get injured on the first play of preseason this season and go out there and dominate. You'll get the reps with Julius Peppers perhaps not even lacing up the spikes against the Broncos. That or Peppers goes half speed, the Broncos go three and out and he jogs off the field and talks about whatever Julius Peppers talks about.
Meanwhile I want to see what this kid is made of and what he can produce in a game situation. No this game won't count much in the standings, but in the competition between Wootton and Chauncey Davis it will be 1/4 of the pie to decide who keeps his roster spot.
Wootton hopefully shows up in a big way against the Broncos, setting the tone for good things to come.
Brandon Hardin is up next, what can you do at the safety position quickly have you learned? You'll be going up against an old foe a Pac-12 foe in Brock Osweiler who is running as the Broncos back up QB. Can you get the best of a fellow rookie draft pick?
Hardin will also be seeing his first action in nearly two years, he'll need to shake off the rust and cobwebs and show flashes becoming an eventual starter. Not this year, but Hardin's time will be here soon enough.
The battle between the rookie CBs is up next and both figure to get plenty of reps in this game. Isaiah Frey and Greg McCoy will be tested early and often. They make up three pieces of a purely rookie driven secondary that figures to be in the spotlight Thursday night.
To this point Frey has stood out the most in camp as a player, but McCoy has the added element of special teams contributor to his game. Frey needs to continue to build upon what he's shown in practice and it may arguably be a small gauge into Phil Emery's eye for talent.
Nate Collins is battling for a roster spot as the fourth defensive tackle on the 53-man roster. He's listed as a backup at both the nose tackle and 3-technique spot and has looked good in camp. He's strong, fast and has that one gap explosion.
He too will be getting a lot of time in this game and again will be trying to parlay his performance in camp out onto the field. I'm anxious to see this kid step up and play because if he can produce he's yet another young piece on an aging defense.
How this defense looks in these preseason games will be the best gauge of the future for this franchise. The players mentioned here could very well represent the future of this franchise, the foundation of continued success. You could argue that with so many young guys at so many key positions the Bears' defense needs to come out and dominate throughout the entire course of the preseason.