The Chicago Bears will take the field for the first time since barely missing the playoffs in 2012. To open up the 2013 preseason schedule, Chicago will visit the Carolina Panthers.
For the first time since last century, the Bears will begin the year without Brian Urlacher on their roster. The team chose not to offer the free agent a contract, leading to his retirement. The linebacker was a staple in the middle of Chicago’s defense for years, which has been among the NFL’s best in recent seasons.
The immediate replacing for the future Hall of Famer seems to be up in the air. Chicago initially signed D.J. Williams to be the new middle linebacker. He came to the Bears after spending the first nine years of his career with the Denver Broncos. However, an injury could put his job as the starter in jeopardy. He was carter off the field with a calf strain on Jul 31. In his place, second-round pick Jonathan Bostic has impressed and could get land the starting job. Chicago drafted him No.50 overall out of Florida.
Other than Urlacher, the Bears lost linebacker Nick Roach, defensive linemen Matt Toeaina and Israel Idonije, as well as Levin Hayden to a season-ending injury. New head coach Marc Trestman could have his work cut out for him in trying to keep the Bears an elite defensive unit.
The Panthers defense, though, has a lot more issues than that of the Bears. They will be missing several key players that are hurt. Linebacker Jon Beason and cornerback Josh Thomas won’t suit up for the Week One preseason matchup. First-round defensive tackle Star Lotulelei will get in his first game as a pro, and look to take advantage of a subpar offensive line.
Jay Cutler and Cam Newton will get into the contest, but aren’t expected to play into the second quarter. With second and third-string players to get most of the time, the Panthers are actually favored. At home, they are giving the Bears three points.
Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. ET. The game won’t air nationally, but can be seen locally in Chicago on FOX and with WCCB-TV in Carolina. Viewers who have purchased NFL Preseason Live can watch a live stream online.