Bernstein: What Matters In A Bears Exhibition Game

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(670 The Score) We're going to watch this loose approximation of NFL football tonight because we're crazy people, unable to resist the pull of something that looks enough like a Bears game. It has been months since we last saw them on our screens lined up against people in a different uniform, and the sick feeling with which we were left has dissipated, now replaced by new expectations.

It's not actually a game, of course, rather an expensive practice in a stadium and on television. My guess is that the 12 wins and national attention of last season have brought some new fans into the fold and/or reinvigorated some of those fallen dormant in the darker times. With that in mind, let's re-establish what we're doing by taking part in this Bears-Panthers matchup and what's important.

The most significant aspect of exhibition games is the possibility of a player getting hurt, and it's critical to avoid exposure of any kind whenever possible. Star players should see no action, decent players should see very little of it and the mediocre and bad ones should get almost all of it.

Nothing strategic can be discerned, so don't try. Plays run by the offense will be only basic ones already accounted for on video by everyone else around the league. The same goes for defensive alignments, even under a new coordinator in Chuck Pagano. He's not giving anything away when the scores don't count.

Be aware at all times that the television broadcast is an infomercial, owned and operated by the Bears themselves. These are local affairs -- not network ones, despite the sights and sounds being slick enough around the edges to look like it in a major media market. Broadcasters paid by the team are tasked more with selling the Bears product than opining objectively, and it becomes easy for a less critical viewer to believe that every bum is actually some kind of prospect.

Even with such caveats, however, I'm interested in a few things regarding this roster that could be affected by a performance or two.

-- Take note of who's held out entirely, in street clothes out of the locker room. It's an indication of how important coach Matt Nagy thinks they are to the team this season, a sign of status.

-- We'll see if kickers can make kicks, in situations not just simulated by coaches.

-- If rookie running back David Montgomery plays, it's our first chance to see him get chased around by non-teammates.

-- There could be big concern at tight end if the mystery surrounding Trey Burton's recent setback doesn't clear up soon and positively and if Adam Shaheen is some combination of hurt and bad. Undrafted free agents Dax Raymond or Ian Bunting merit some attention. Bradley Sowell is also at this position now.

-- Same goes for depth players in the defensive secondary. Duke Shelley, Stephen Denmark and John Franklin III will battle to see who might stick as a backup and core special teamer and who gets stashed on the practice squad.

-- There's always a receiver who makes a play or two, and someone will from the group that includes Marvin Hall, Emanuel Hall and rookie Riley Ridley. Also, running back Kerrith Whyte Jr. is supposed to be really fast.

And that's about it until further events warrant other subjects of our focus.

So it's about not getting hurt. Don't get hurt.

We still have to wait a month for football, but "football" is back tonight.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in midday. You can follow him on Twitter @Dan_Bernstein.