Bears: 5 questions

Published: Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT
(AP file photo)
FILE - In this Dec. 1, 2013, file photo, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, left, tries to break a tackle from Chicago Bears free safety Chris Conte during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in Minneapolis. Long before quarterbacks took center stage, the NFL was a running backs league. From Red Grange to Jim Brown to O.J. Simpson to Walter Payton to Emmitt Smith, the workhorse back has been a symbol of toughness and perseverance. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt, File)

It’s time for the third and most important preseason game on the schedule – the longest we’ll see Bears starters before the regular season begins.

Here are five questions the Bears should hope to get answered Friday night when they take on the defending champion Seahawks in Seattle:

Can Chris Conte win a starting job?

In his first game since Randall Cobb’s touchdown, Conte can begin proving his many doubters wrong. No safety has locked down a starting job, and the Bears’ brass has made it no secret that they believe Conte has the skill set to start. Now, can he make a play or two to set himself apart from Ryan Mundy,

Danny McCray and Adrian Wilson to re- gain the starting spot he has had the past three seasons?

Will the backup
quarterback picture
become clearer?

Jordan Palmer will be the No. 2 quarterback, and it could be his last chance to make a run at the backup job. He played well enough against Jacksonville last week to make the competition closer, one that Jimmy Clausen seemingly has been ahead in since the start of training camp. The Bears might prefer not to go to Cleveland still trying to sort out their backup situation.

Will a return man emerge?

This should be Chris Williams’ time to shine. Even with a hamstring injury, he outran the Eagles’ secondary for a touchdown, but he has yet to return a kick. The job to replace Devin Hester still is up for grabs, and keep an eye on this week’s addition, Darius Reynaud. Williams could end the competition in Seattle if he shows off the speed the Bears love, but he still is unproven at the NFL level.

Is Santonio Holmes healthy enough and good enough to be the No. 3 receiver?

On the one hand, there’s a reason Holmes still was available in mid-August. On the other, the Bears still don’t have a third receiver. Josh Morgan had a solid outing against Jacksonville, but if Holmes is ready to play – which will be a game-time decision – we could see the skill set he has shown in his career to be an extremely effective receiver. Learning the Bears’ offense and proving he is fully recovered from a foot injury will be Holmes’ biggest tests.

Will Shea McClellin and Jon Bostic continue to show progress?

Coach Marc Trestman and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker were pleased with the young linebackers and how they showed improvement against Jacksonville. The Bears know what they have in Lance Briggs and D.J. Williams, and would like to be more confident in what they’ll get from McClellin, who could be an effective edge rusher and cover ‘backer, and Bostic, who flashed in run defense and is important in the nickel defense.

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