The Bears will not play most of their starters - including Mitch Trubisky - in Saturday's preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs, the team announced Friday night.
Coaches felt like they saw what they needed to see in practices this week, which were extended in length, and coach Matt Nagy informed players of the decision on Friday. Couple that strong week of practice with the Bears holding more practices than any side except the Baltimore Ravens - their Hall of Fame Game opponent - and the coaching staff decided they didn't need to play their starters for the traditional "dress rehearsal" third preseason game on Saturday.
Trubisky played 39 snaps in two preseason games, completing 11 of 18 passes for 94 yards with one touchdown and one interception (both of which came last weekend against the Denver Broncos). He also rushed twice for three yards.
The decision to not play the starters on Saturday can be read a couple of ways. First, as good news: If Nagy and his coaching staff believed this group needed the work, they'd get the work. That the starting defense won't play is, on its face, not too surprising - the guys who were set to start on Saturday have been in Vic Fangio's system for at least two years at this point. With Roquan Smith and Aaron Lynch already unlikely to play, that group of defensive players would've remained largely unchanged from the one that took most of the snaps last year.
That the offense isn't play, though, is a fascinating development. Playing into the second half would've allowed Trubisky and his teammates opportunities to sustain drives, get red zone work, make halftime adjustments and perhaps even squeeze in a two- or four-minute drill at the end of the first half. That Nagy doesn't see the need to put his starters on the field on Saturday can be seen as a sign he believes they'll be ready for Week 1 by practicing behind the scenes at Halas Hall.
The other way to read it is in light of last week's injuries to Leonard Floyd (hand) and Adam Shaheen (foot/ankle). If the Bears are at the point where Nagy doesn't believe they absolutely need the work, then resting the guys who will matter the most Sept. 9 would be a natural conclusion, if that indeed was part of Nagy's thinking. Keeping the starters off the field, too, will mean the Packers won't have as much film on Nagy's offense with which to work come September.
This could, of course, become a point of criticism for Nagy if the Bears come out flat in Green Bay. But for what it's worth, the Mike Glennon-led first-team offense played well in their preseason dress rehearsal last year, and things didn't exactly work out well for that group (Cameron Meredith's injury in that game in Tennessee was a massive blow, too).
Presumably, the Chiefs will play their starters on Saturday, giving players on the roster bubble an extended opportunity to prove themselves against a first-team offense or defense, which would make a significant impression on coaches and front office members ahead of Sept. 1's cut-down day.
The Bears aren't the only team to keep their most important players on the sidelines during the preseason. The Los Angeles Rams haven't played most of their key guys this preseason, and won't play some of them - including running back Todd Gurley - for their third preseason game this weekend.
"That is everyone's dream, to not play in the preseason," Gurley said, via ESPN. "… Some guys just like being out there to get a feel for it and to see. But not this guy."