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Write Now Blog

Tice eager to test young players

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 8, 2012 – 2:05 pm

All eyes no doubt will be on Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and the rest of the No. 1 offense Thursday night when the Bears open the preseason by hosting the Denver Broncos at Soldier Field.

But first-year offensive coordinator Mike Tice is especially interested in seeing how the team’s unproven players perform in a game situation.

“Really the big evaluation is going to happen for the young guys and for the guys that are pushing to make the active roster as opposed to the practice squad starting with the games,” Tice said.

“I want the first team to be clean when they are in there, [but] they’re only going to be in there a handful of plays. With the second-teamers, we are looking for guys who want to show us that they deserve a shot to push somebody out, so we’ll see. They’re going to get plenty of plays. We’ll see how they do and grade it like a regular-season game and go from there.”

The competition figures to be intense at wide receiver, where Eric Weems appears to be assured of making the 53-man roster along with Brandon Marshall, Devin Hester, Earl Bennett and Alshon Jeffery. That means Rashied Davis, Dane Sanzenbacher and others could be battling for a sixth spot.

“Eric Weems is a great special teams player and before he tweaked his ankle was doing a lot of really good stuff for us in the passing game,” Tice said. “After that, anything can happen.

“I think it all comes down to special teams play and how guys shine or don’t in the games on special teams and what their role is going to be. That is for coach [Lovie] Smith to make that decision, not Mike Tice. We’re just going to go out and play offense and put these guys in situations to see how they handle it.”

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