5 things to watch in Bears’ preseason finale vs. Titans

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The Chicago Bears are gearing up for the conclusion of the preseason, where they’ll travel to Tennessee to face the Titans on Saturday night.

Following a couple of eventful preseason games for Chicago, this is the last chance for some players vying for roster spots or starting jobs to make an impression, as Matt Nagy indicated this game can make or break roster spots.

Heading into Saturday’s game, here are five things we’ll be watching as the Bears battle the Titans.

Justin Fields gets his first start

AP Photo/David Banks

Bears fans have been beating the drum for rookie Justin Fields to see reps with the starting offense. And while Fields will get his first NFL start -- preseason, that is -- he still won't be getting reps with the first-team skill players. The good news is Fields is expected to play with the starting offensive line, which should be a big upgrade from last week's group, where Fields was often running for his life. With Andy Dalton named the starter for Week 1 against the Rams, this is the last time we'll get to see Fields in live-action until he eventually replaces Dalton in the regular season. That could be as soon as Week 2 or as late as Week 8.

Jason Peters' debut at left tackle

AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski

While the Bears offensive line has been the healthiest it's been all training camp, there are still questions at the tackle position. But the big one is who will be starting at left tackle when Week 1 kicks off. Perennial left tackle Jason Peters figures to lock down the starting job, but Matt Nagy made it clear fifth-round rookie Larry Borom is still very much in the competition. Peters didn't play in last week's preseason game against the Bills, but he's expected to start at left tackle in the preseason finale against the Titans. The big focus will be on Peters' conditioning, something that he struggled with during practice this week. If Peters is in fact the guy, as all signs point to, Nagy didn't rule out a potential rotation at left tackle to start the season, if need be.

Who stands out in wide receiver competition

AP Photo/David Banks

Heading into the final preseason game, the battle at wide receiver remains a tight competition. With Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, Marquise Goodwin and Damiere Byrd all locks for the 53-man roster, that leaves two roster spots up for grabs. While it seems like Dazz Newsome and Rodney Adams have done enough to lock down those spots, there's still one last chance to guys like Riley Ridley, Chris Lacy or newcomer Isaiah Coulter to make a push for a roster spot. The Titans game also presents an opportunity for Newsome and Adams to put a stamp on their preseason and make it an even easier decision on the Bears when hammering out the final roster. Adams has made an impressive play in both preseason outings and has led the team in receiving, as well. Newsome has the chance to not only flash his speed on offense but also as a punt returner, where he's sure to get plenty of opportunities. With the starters resting, there will be plenty of opportunities to make a last impression for a roster spot.

Can anyone separate themselves in outside cornerback and slot corner battles

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

As the Bears prepare to close out the preseason, there's still no resolution at the two cornerback battles. At outside corner, it seems like it's come down to Kindle Vildor and Artie Burns for that spot opposite Jaylon Johnson, as Desmond Trufant hasn't practiced in over a week due to a personal reason. Vildor has appeared to be the favorite for most of the offseason and summer, but Burns has seen increased reps with the first-team defense. Vildor and Burns have a chance to make a statement in this preseason finale, and the hope is we have more clarity following this game. Then there's the competition at slot corner, which could have roster spot implications as safety Marqui Christian has seen reps in the slot, and if he proves himself, it could be enough to justify carrying a fifth safety. Cornerbacks Duke Shelley and rookie Thomas Graham Jr. have also been deadlocked in the nickelback competition, although Shelley appears to have the edge at this point. We'll see if Graham can close the gap.

Titans COVID-19 concerns

USA Today

For the second time in two years, there are COVID-19 concerns heading into a Bears vs. Titans game. Ahead of last November's regular-season game in Nashville, the Bears had two offensive linemen -- Cody Whitehair and Jason Spriggs -- test positive for coronavirus while Germain Ifedi was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list as a close contact. With two starting offensive linemen sidelined, it was a rough game for Chicago. This time, it's the Titans who have the COVID-19 concerns. According to Adam Schefter, the Titans have nine players and coaches, including Ryan Tannehill and head coach Mike Vrabel, testing positive for COVID-19. https://twitter.com/AdamSchefter/status/1430974976098803712?s=20 We'll see how this impacts Saturday's game, which as of Friday morning is still scheduled to be played. [listicle id=479123] [listicle id=479048] [listicle id=479009]

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