Chiefs vs. Bears: Five Things to Watch

A few storylines to watch as the Chiefs travel to take on the Bears on Saturday afternoon

The Kansas City Chiefs and Chicago Bears meet Saturday afternoon at Soldier Field in Chicago at Noon CT in the third preseason game for both teams. It's a game that's commonly referred to as the "Dress Rehearsal" as the starters for both teams will see the most extended action of their preseason.

The game can be watched locally on KCTV5 and nationally on NFL Network.

While Chiefs' coach Andy Reid said they haven't game-planned for the Bears, he did say they've treated the week of preparation like they will in the regular season in terms of meetings and schedules. It's an opportunity to get everyone in a routine before they kick off the regular season against the Los Angeles Chargers in a couple of weeks.

With the starters getting plenty of run, plus the number of connections that run deep between several coaches and players on both sidelines, plus the return of a few key pieces of the Chiefs' defense, there's plenty to watch for on Saturday afternoon.

Here are five things to watch during Chiefs-Bears on Saturday:

1.    The connections on Saturday stretch beyond just Andy Reid and Matt Nagy

There's a lot that's going to be made about Reid and Bears' head coach Matt Nagy facing one another this weekend.

Nagy, who was named the Bears head coach this past offseason, spent his entire coaching career before that alongside Reid, who hired Nagy as his assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010. That's when Nagy first got a shot in the NFL with a full-time job.

Nagy was brought over thanks in part to a push from his old college teammate at Delaware—current Chiefs' general manager Brett Veach, who had held the position of Reid's assistant and was moving over to the personnel side and put in a word to Reid about someone who could replace him.

The rest—as they say—is history, but the connections stretch far beyond just Reid, Nagy and Veach, and they are also a little more personal.

Chiefs' Assistant Head Coach and Special Team's Coordinator Dave Toub will be going up against his son, Shane, who was just hired this offseason as an offensive assistant with Nagy and the Bears.

"I'm very excited," Toub said this week. "I'm so glad it's a preseason game because if it was an in-season game, I couldn't talk to him all week. We're going to have dinner on Friday night. My wife is coming up and it's a big deal to be able to coach against your son for the first time. It's a once-in-a-lifetime deal and I'm excited, especially going back to Chicago. Lot of friends there that are going to come to the dinner.

"I'm going to have to sell some stock just to be able to pay for the dinner."

Toub spent nine years (2004-2012) as the special team's coordinator with the Bears.

And on the field, Chiefs' cornerback Kendall Fuller will be taking the field against his brother, Kyle, who is also a cornerback, for the first time ever.

2.    The top two quarterbacks taken in the 2017 NFL Draft

After everyone has spent the last week talking about "The Throw," which saw quarterback Patrick Mahomes chuck it 68.6 yards in the air to the speedy-Tyreek Hill for a ridiculous touchdown late in the first half against the Atlanta Falcons last week, the Chiefs' first-team offense will see action into the third quarter this week against the Bears.

It's an opportunity for them to get some more work before they begin preparing for the Chargers in Week 1, and it's also an opportunity for everyone to see the first two quarterbacks taken in the draft last year.

Bears' quarterback Mitch Trubisky was taken with the No. 2 overall pick, while Mahomes was taken eight picks later at No. 10 overall after the Chiefs traded up for him from No. 27.

While Mahomes spent last season learning under veteran Alex Smith, Trubisky was thrown into the action right away—starting 12 games for the Bears as a rookie—completing 59.4 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.

"I definitely watched him, you watch the guys in your draft class," Mahomes mentioned this week of Trubisky. "You know those guys because you've been to the NFL Scouting Combine with him, you've seen him at meetings, you've seen him all around the draft process. He's a good dude, he's a really good dude. He's got a lot of talent and I'm excited for him as well as him with (Matt) Nagy.

"I sure they will have a lot of success. For me it's about going out there competing against him and hopefully we can get the win."

In two preseason games, Mahomes has completed 13 of 19 (68 percent) for 171 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

3.    The play of Anthony Hitchens and Reggie Ragland

The Chiefs made several key veteran additions to the defensive side of the ball this offseason—trading for cornerback Kendall Fuller, signing free agent defensive lineman Xavier Williams, and also signing former Dallas Cowboys' inside linebacker Anthony Hitchens, who then paired alongside Reggie Ragland, were tagged to "set the tone" for the Chiefs' defense in 2018.

Outside of practice, we haven't yet seen both Hitchens and Ragland together on the field for the Chiefs' defense this preseason. Ragland missed the early part of training camp with swelling in his knee, and Hitchens was dealing with a hamstring injury midway through camp, which was about the same time that Ragland returned.

But that all might change on Saturday.

"If they can go, they'll be out there," Reid said of the two starting inside linebackers. "There's a good chance they play in this game. We'll just see how the practices go. Right now, they feel pretty good and right now that is a positive.

"If they can be out there, they need to go."

Ragland spoke with the media earlier this week and expressed his excitement about getting out on the field alongside his new teammate in a game situation.

"Whenever we get out there, it's going to be natural," he noted. "It's already natural during practice and everything. If I don't see something, Hitch sees it, and when Hitch doesn't see it, I see it. It's very helpful. I think when the time comes, and we get out there and play, things are going to fall into place."

That's a top storyline to watch for Saturday as both of those guys are downhill tone-setters, and if it's anything like what we've seen at practice, there will be a noticeable difference.

4.    Will we see Spencer Ware?

The other player who might see their first action of the preseason is running back Spencer Ware, who has been held out after working his way back from a knee injury that cost him all of last season.

The plan right now is that Ware will play in the game but they're going to check with him after pregame warmups to make sure he's still feeling good.

"[Ware] is a very good, solid and productive football player," Chiefs' offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said earlier this week. "He's the type of guy you want to take with you in any alley around the country."

We're just a year removed from the 2016 season in which Ware had 1,368 yards of total offense with five touchdowns as the Chiefs' featured running back. He averaged 4.3 yards-per-carry and 13.5 yards-per-reception that season.

5.    Which young guy steps up this week?

With the starters taking most of the reps into the third quarter, the opportunity for young guys to step up and show what they can do will be limited in this game compared to the other three in the preseason.

But that also means the reps and who's out there will be something to watch when the starters first come out of the game.

We saw undrafted rookie linebacker Ben Niemann (Iowa) step up and make plays for the defense over the past two weeks, and we also saw undrafted rookie running back Darrel Williams (LSU) lead the Chiefs on the scoring drive to open up the second half of the game last week against the Falcons.

Williams had a nice blitz pickup in pass protection on a key third-and-9 to extend that drive, which allowed quarterback Chad Henne to find receiver Gehrig Dieter across the middle, and then he showed his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield on a couple of throws as well.

"He's very sharp," Bieniemy noted of Williams. "He's a young kid that has accepted the challenge. He has done a great job in the classroom, which says a lot about him because obviously, the stuff he's doing in the classroom, and also the things he is doing at home, have helped him. He comes out there, he doesn't make very many mistakes and if he does make a mistake, he self-corrects.

"He's doing a very good job of picking everything up and we just want to see him continue to stay the course."

We've seen it from Niemann, Williams, and even flashes from guys like cornerback Tremon Smith, outside linebacker Breeland Speaks, offensive lineman Andrew Wylie and others, but who could be the guy to step up and flash this week?

We're less than 10 days away from the roster having to be trimmed to 53 players, so every rep and play is becoming that much more important.

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