Projecting the 53-man roster for the Chicago Bears, Part IIIContinue reading.
A meaningless game? For Bears on the roster bubble, this is as big as it gets
The fourth preseason game is the opportunity of a lifetime for several players on the fringe of the Bears roster — a chance to put more snaps on tape than some of them have had in the entire preseason.
But for the Bears, it’s largely a perfunctory affair that more than likely will have little impact on the 2014 team. Last season, none of the 22 starters against the Browns in the preseason finale started a game in the regular season. Only nine of them even made the roster. Only four made it through the entire regular season. And only three — special-teamer Blake Costanzo (16 games), safety Anthony Walters (13 games) and wide receiver Joe Anderson (six) — played more than two games.
Three years ago, the bubble player from the preseason finale that arguably had the biggest impact on the Bears in the regular season played for the Browns in this game — fullback Tyler Clutts was cut by the Browns, was immediately picked up by the Bears and played a key role as a blocking back for Matt Forte in 2011. Last year, the Bears signed defensive end David Bass — who had played against the Bears with the Oakland Raiders in the third preseason game — after Bass was cut by the Raiders following the final preseason game.
So you never know.
“I don’t think there’s ever such a thing as a meaningless game,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “There’s guys that we’re going to evaluate off of this game that really have a chance to make our team. And it’s more than one in my opinion.
“There’s a good number that are going to be evaluated taht have an opportunity to impact our 53. So if it’s one of them, every guy has got to go out and play hard. It really is an opportunity to put their abilities and their potential on tape not only for us, but for the league. That’s how I see it.”
The Bears roster is at 75 heading into tonight’s game and must be cut to 53 by Saturday. And some of those cut will end up on the practice squad, which has been increased from eight players to 10 this season. It’s not unlikely that half of the practice squad players will be players who were cut by other teams.
Regardless of what happens against the Browns, the Bears will have at least one difficult roster quandary — what to do with injured wide receiver Marquess Wilson, who is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery to repair a broken clavicle. It is more than likely that Wilson will be put on the physically unable to play (PUP) list that allows him to return to practice after the team has played six games. That allows the Bears to keep another wide receiver on the roster and don’t be surprised if that comes from outside the current roster.
Theoretically, if rookie quarterback David Fales lights it up against the Browns, the Bears might not be able to get him to their practice squad without another team claiming him. But with Jimmy Clausen as much of a developmental quarterback as a backup at this point, the risk of losing Fales is one the Bears can take. As Phil Emery himself said prior to the draft, you don’t find many starting quarterbacks in the sixth round of the draft.
It might be more prudent to have Clausen play the entire game against the Browns than Fales. Clausen hasn’t played in a regular-season game in the NFL since his rookie year of 2010 with the Carolina Panthers. But offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said the Bears are confident that Clausen is NFL ready in case he’s needed sooner rather than later. The Bears definitely like what they have in Clausen. Choosing him as the backup over Jordan Palmer a week before the final preseason game is just one indication of that.
“Jimmy’s confident,” Kromer said. “Coming off a rokie year having to start on an offense that’s not that talented and going through what he had to do in Carolina, it could crush the confidence of a player. He hasn’t allowed that to happen. That doesn’t show. He’s still confidence. He’s smart. He works at it. And he’ll be ready.”