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What To Watch For: Bears-Chiefs

By Chris Emma--

(CBS) It's time for the dress rehearsal preseason game, in which teams typically play veterans for three quarters while hoping and praying for no injuries in the third exhibition. From a football standpoint, it's at least positive to get a view of each team against a real opponent for an extended time.

The Bears meet the Chiefs on Saturday at noon from Soldier Field as a banged-up team, with several minor injuries and a stomach virus spreading around Halas Hall.

Still, Bears coach John Fox intends to play his starters -- quarterback Jay Cutler, too -- into the third quarter.

"It's pretty much business as usual," Fox said. "I don't think I've been through many football seasons or football camps where there aren't things you go out and adjust to. What we do for a living is about adjusting."

So, with a better glance at the Bears, what should be top of mind come Saturday?

1.) Rotations, rotations, rotations

We'll see Saturday how Fox and his coaching staff will mix in personnel at each position.

Fox said that the Bears plan to approach their playing time as if it's the regular season -- that following a week of regular-season preparation and schedule -- and that includes rotating players like it's Week 1.

In the backfield, Jeremy Langford will get the majority of carries with the first-team offense, but look for a good dose of Jacquizz Rodgers, Ka'Deem Carey and Jordan Howard, too.

The Bears like their depth at receiver, but behind Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White, playing time will be a mix.

Defensively, the Bears have versatility in their front seven. It's going to be interesting to see how coordinator Vic Fangio mixes personnel there, specifically with rookies Jonathan Bullard and Leonard Floyd, who have each emerged in their roles.

2.) What's going on up front?

With right guard Kyle Long sidelined due to a shoulder injury, the Bears have mixed up their offensive line.

Cornelius Edison is getting a chance at center now, with Ted Larsen getting reps at right guard. So what does it mean? The Bears are preparing their offense for the scenario that Long isn't ready for Week 1 in Houston. Now, this doesn't mean they expect this -- Long has been present at practice and is working off to the side -- but they want to develop a Plan B.

Watch for what Edison does during important snaps Saturday. He has been steady in practice and is apparently earning the trust of Fox and his staff more than veteran alternatives. The Bears were even willing to try him at center while moving Larsen.

At New England in its second preseason game, Chicago was much better on the offensive line than in a disastrous opener against Denver.

How will the offensive line hold up for three quarters and with new personnel? We're about to find out.

3.) Injuries

Health is the most important element that take a team can come away with in these third preseason games.

The Bears simply can't afford any more injuries. They've dealt with bumps and bruises this past week -- "owies," as Fox calls them -- but anything more than that would be brutal.

Long, cornerback Kyle Fuller and linebacker Pernell McPhee are the Bears whose statuses for Week 1 are in jeopardy, though it's possible all three could return in time. The Bears don't have the depth to play "next-man up" football and still find the success they desire.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago's sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.


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