I haven’t had to spend as much of the summer arguing about the meaningless of preseason football as I usually do. Partly, I think, because teams are starting to embrace the lack of meaning themselves. All one needs to do is listen to the words coming from players in post-game pressers to understand they really couldn’t give two shits about the performances and outcomes. They just want to be healthy after Labor Day.
Here’s three players worth keeping an eye on tomorrow.
Cornelius Edison, Center
Saturday, fully healed but aching for experience, Edison figures to start the Bears’ all-important third exhibition game. He does so with only 12 games of center experience to his name — his senior year at the Div. I-AA school, though he did win the Rimington Award, given to the nation’s best at the position, for his efforts.
“I was always confident in my abilities,” the 6-3, 309 pounder said Wednesday after practice at Halas Hall. “It just took me a longer way to get here and just made me appreciate, when I’m here, that this is meant for me. And I just gotta keep working hard no matter what my situation is.”
Ted Larsen is a backup. Nothing more. Edison should start. Is he going to make everyone forget about the summer developments of Hroniss Grasu? No. But he could be capable. And the Bears sorely need it at the position.
Daniel Braverman, Wide Receiver
Here’s my issue with Braverman. Where does he fit?
Jeffery-White-Royal are set as the Bears top three receivers. Mariani is one of the quarterback’s favorite targets (and the team’s punt returner). Thompson returns kickoffs and, despite injury, has done so all summer. The Bears believe Wilson is going to return at some point this season. Bellamy and Meredith may not be world beaters but both performed adequately in 2015.
So how does Braverman make this team?
Christian Jones, Linebacker
Simply put, he needs an eye-opening performance. The Bears list him as an outside linebacker, meaning they would need to carry six at the position for Jones to have a locker. (Young, Houston, McPhee, Floyd and Acho are locks.) They carried five in 2015. From Moon as CSN Chicago:
Coaches came to Jones early in the offseason and said they were moving him back to the outside. Fine. He was comfortable there before. Except that since the start of training camp, Jones has been something of a “Where’s Waldo?” character – inside, outside, try finding him.
If there’s an irony, it lies in the fact that not finding Jones a clear role sets him up as a piece of roster versatility that teams crave.
“We went and signed two inside linebackers in free agency and moved him to outside, and now we’ve kind of moved him back inside, so he’s kind of a hybrid,” said coach John Fox. “And sometimes you have to be that.
“There’s the old adage, ‘The more you can do… ,’ and there are a lot of those hybrid guys in different spots. It gives him an advantage, too, as far as offensive recognition.”
Fox and the Bears staff have placed a premium on attitude as well, and Jones has continued to be a factor on special teams, something not every three-year veteran and former starter embraces.
Jones thinks clearly: “You want to have a job,” he said, laughing. “That’s the main thing.”
Hell, even if Jones makes the team it’s not hard to see him in sweats every Sunday. There just isn’t a place for him in this defense anymore.