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4 things to watch for in the Chicago Bears’ 2nd preseason game, including Teven Jenkins’ move inside and a pair of rookie debuts

The Chicago Bears showed promising signs in their preseason opener Saturday, defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 19-14 at Soldier Field as a handful of young players stepped up and played with the competitive edge coach Matt Eberflus is seeking.

Another test awaits Thursday night at Lumen Field with the Seattle Seahawks welcoming the Bears for a nationally televised game (7 p.m., ESPN). Here are four storylines worth tracking.

1. Justin Fields’ presence

Fields won’t have a lot of time to prove much with Eberflus planning to play his first-unit offense for one or two series. But it’s still worth zeroing in on each of the plays the second-year quarterback is asked to run.

From huddle command to pre-snap vision to his ability to process and make good decisions, Fields’ preseason reps remain under a microscope. The Bears are pushing him to raise the bar as the season nears, demanding better footwork and sharper timing and feel in the pocket.

Thursday’s game is another chance for Fields and the offense to get better, and the coaches love how open Fields has been to being coached hard.

“He loves it,” quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko said. “You talk about a guy that just loves football and wants to be great and wants to elevate everybody around him. It’s pretty impressive.”

2. Teven Jenkins’ progress

At the outset of training camp, Eberlus promised he would mix and match combinations on the offensive line to identify the most unified and reliable quintet. The latest combination has Teven Jenkins, who was drafted in the second round in 2021 to be a starting left tackle, auditioning at right guard.

Jenkins played 36 snaps at right tackle against the Chiefs but was bumped inside this week for his latest challenge. He is likely to start Thursday but will get far more playing time than the rest of the projected Week 1 starters on the line.

“Like any position, if you’re not an experienced guy at your position, we’re going to try to get you a little bit more (playing time),” Eberflus said Tuesday.

As the Bears try to find a position where Jenkins can help them, the coaching staff has praised his intelligence as an asset to this latest move. Offensive line coach Chris Morgan sees a combination of size, strength and speed in Jenkins that he’s intrigued to test inside.

“It’s a little bit of an adjustment,” Morgan said. “But we wouldn’t ask him to do anything he couldn’t handle. He has some attributes that can really shine in there. So we’re excited about it, excited to see how it looks.”

3. The rookies

A pair of Day 2 draft picks — cornerback Kyler Gordon and receiver Velus Jones — are expected to make their preseason debuts after missing Saturday’s game with injuries. It’s an exciting homecoming for Gordon, who’s from Everett, Wash., and puts him back in the city where he played his college ball for Washington.

“It was meant to be,” he said.

Jones, meanwhile, is expected to play a number of roles for the Bears during the season. So having a chance to test him in game conditions on offense and special teams will be valuable.

As for the rest of the rookie class, keep tabs on fifth-round pick Dominique Robinson and undrafted rookie Micah Dew-Treadway on the defensive line. It also will be interesting to see whether running back Trestan Ebner can build on his performance against the Chiefs; he had a 12-yard touchdown reception to go with a 27-yard run and a 34-yard kickoff return.

On the long run, Ebner made a sweet cut in the backfield, juking cornerback Jaylen Watson as he burst into the open field. But it was his shoulder-down, teeth-gritting finish to that run that impressed offensive coordinator Luke Getsy more.

“It was an impressive cut,” Getsy said. “But I just think when you have one of these young kids (running) on that sideline and there’s a guy there and you can run out of bounds … but the way he put his foot in the ground and got us 5 more yards, that’s the mentality we’re trying to build here. That’s one of those philosophical plays we’ll put up in the offensive unit room.”

4. The punters

Yes, yes. It’s a big ask to request you give up part of your Thursday night to watch punting in a mid-August preseason game. But, hey, anything for a football fix, right?

This is a second opportunity for Bears fans to familiarize themselves with Trenton Gill, a seventh-round draft pick who launched seven punts in the preseason opener. Gill showed a good combination of leg strength and touch and forced the Chiefs to start possessions at the 12-, 5- and 3-yard lines. His growth is worth monitoring. The Bears might need to use him a lot this season.

Seahawks punter Michael Dickson, meanwhile, is in his fifth season. The Aussie signed a four-year, $14.5 million extension last season and followed with a strong year in which he averaged 46.9 yards per punt and had a league-high 40 punts pinned inside the 20-yard line.

Dickson will present a challenge to the Bears as they seek a winner of their punt return job. Dazz Newsome, Dante Pettis and Chris Finke took cracks Saturday.

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