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Bears Fri Aug 30 2013

Bears Have Decisions At Every Position

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for GB bears icon.pngIt may seem counterintuitive to rest players when many of the Bears young bucks (especially the ones that will be starting) could've used last night's preseason finale to get more reps. Marc Trestman decided that his team's health was far more important than a quarter or a half of play -- and he's probably right.

Many Bears players that were thought to be competing for jobs against the Browns received a DNP (Did Not Play) in the scorebook, to the surprise of many onlookers. That might seem like the kiss of death in some circles, but it was a case of preservation for the Bears. If Henry Melton, Earl Bennett, and DJ Williams are healthy enough to play next Sunday against the Bengals, it means the Bears will have made it through the four warmup games with everyone on their two-deep intact. That's something that few NFL teams can claim.

With many of the roster decisions made prior to the game last night, the matchup against the Browns came down to a few of the final positions on the 53-man roster. Here's how everything should shake out by the end of the day:

Quarterback

Jordan Palmer was ahead of Trent Edwards on the depth chart coming into the game, and nothing that happened last night did anything to change the staff's opinion. With Matt Blanchard out and unable to return to the Bears until Week 10, Palmer will be the Bears third quarterback. That is, of course, if they end up keeping three.

When Trestman left for the CFL, almost every team carried three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. That trend has changed in recent years as teams typically try to keep two on the active roster, and bury a third on the practice squad. Palmer and Edwards have played too many games to qualify for the practice squad, and the Bears worked a number of other quarterbacks (including Aaron Rodgers brother Jordan) in a private tryout on Tuesday to see if any of them were worthy of a spot. The Bears will probably keep Palmer on the team, but if they don't, it's simply because they don't think another team will scoop him up -- leaving him a phone call away from being back at Halas Hall.

Running Back

Armando Allen's health opened the door for Michael Ford to take the last spot at RB behind Matt Forte and Michael Bush, and it ended up being the featured roster battle of the night. After a nice one-cut carry on a third down play in the first quarter, Allen finished with 39 yards on 10 carries. Despite being a fine special teams player for the Bears last season, it didn't seem like the performance was good enough to rip the spot back. Ford rattled off 48 yards on nine carries, and added a bruising 13-yard catch to continue the Bears lone touchdown drive. His kick returning skills, solid coverage play, and smooth running should be good enough to stick.

Wide Receiver

Both Eric Weems and Marquess Wilson sat out last night's finale, and it told us they had secured their spots on the team. Weems is too valuable as a special teams stud (returning and covering), while bringing reliable catching skills to wherever he lines up on offense if someone is out of gas. As for Wilson, Trestman said that he was first in line behind Earl Bennett, which is a pretty big sign of respect for a rookie in a complex offense.

That left Joe Anderson and Terrence Toliver likely fighting for the sixth receiver spot, with Anderson probably having the edge coming into the game. Four catches for 64 yards and a touchdown following a great training camp (before he got nicked up) probably secured his spot, despite Toliver doing a great job receiving (6/49) along with a better showing on special teams. The Bears have enough coverage specialists at other positions to allow them to go with the best receiver, and that's Anderson.

Offensive Line

James Brown and Eben Britton were both healthy scratches along with the starting five, leaving one final spot to be earned on the unit up front. Jonathon Scott didn't play as he's still recovering from a knee injury, so it basically came down to a final opportunity for J'Marcus Webb to prove he belonged on the team. A false start, lackluster run blocking and mediocre-at-best pass protection will likely leave him on the outside looking in. Teams typically only carry seven active linemen, which could provide Scott another week to fully recover, and give the Bears more reason to cut the frustrating Webb.

Tight End

Trestman wants everyone to love Fendi Onobun, but it's a tough sell. The coach can champion his fantastic run blocking abilities, but two holding calls last night against backups is telling. He made a couple of catch and runs that wow you and prove why he's even on a roster at this point, but a couple of killer drops that resulted in punts or interceptions means he shouldn't be playing football on Sundays. Onobun is eligible for the practice squad, and I would think a date with the JUGS machine every morning at 7am would be to his benefit. The problem is, Kyle Adams gave up a sack and was otherwise quiet in limited duty last night. Sometimes not standing out on tape is enough to get the job done, but I bet Onobun makes the team.

Defensive Line

With Cornelius Washington having a spot locked up because he was a draftee, there was likely just one spot available here, and a Zach Minter injury would probably be the only way he'd lose it. Even though he didn't get a sack, he was disruptive enough again to make the team as an undrafted rookie from Montana State. Chalk this one up to Phil Emery's scouting staff as a fantastic find.

Linebacker

The Bears probably carry six, and it's all about special teams here. Jerry Franklin was the best actual linebacker last night, but Blake Costanzo and JT Thomas are two coverage studs who might be fighting for just one spot. I'd personally lean toward Thomas because he's younger and has some upside, but I have a feeling Costanzo stays forsure. If they keep both, it probably means they only keep two QBs or leave off a fifth safety.

Safety

Craig Steltz has a spot behind Major Wright and Chris Conte, and as a former third rounder, the Bears were hoping Brandon Hardin would secure a spot for himself. He didn't. Anthony Walters and Tom Nelson clearly outplayed him, with Walters likely locking up a spot on the team. Nelson would be next in line if they decided to keep another.

Cornerback

Demontre Hurst got hit big on the first play for Cleveland, but was fantastic otherwise. This is going to be the toughest decision to make for the Bears because Sherrick McManis (who likely stays) and CJ Wilson also showed some great flashes during the preseason. I think Hurst probably locked up a spot, and Wilson will be heading to the practice squad.

 
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