The Chicago Bears did not play the starters in tonight's preseason finale. At some positions, not even the backups saw the field, with the third stringers taking all of the reps. As you can guess, it was a pretty sloppy game, yet a number of players stood out, possibly earning themselves a roster spot.
Let's go over all the action.
-DT Brian Price, who dominated for most of the night, left the game with a head injury.
-RB Lorenzo Booker also left with a head injury.
Notes from the preseason finale
-The biggest positional battle tonight was between Armando Allen and Lorenzo Booker for the team's third running back spot. Both players were very impressive.
Allen finished the game with 16 carries for 83 yards, along with 5 receptions for 51 yards. Booker finished with 15 carries for 81 yards, and 4 receptions for 16 yards.
Allen lined up all over the field and was used regularly out wide as a receiver, exploiting mismatches with safeties and linebackers. He showed great value as both a pass catcher and a runner. Allen also forced a fumble on a punt return.
Booker again demonstrated his quickness, making numerous defenders miss. You get the feeling Booker can take it to the house every time he touches the ball. Unfortunately, the head injury could cost him. With a competition as tight as this one, an injury could sway the coaches in favor of the healthy player. In my opinion, though, both players deserve a roster spot.
-The release of LB Dom DeCicco this week opened up the team's sixth LB spot. Through the first three preseason games, J.T. Thomas had been the most impressive of the backup linebackers, yet he struggled tonight.
One player that did not struggle was Xavier Adibi, a fifth-year player Chicago signed midway through training camp. He was all over the field. He led the team in total tackles (6) and tackles for a loss (3), and also picked up a sack. Based on his performance tonight, and considering he has more experience than the other linebackers vying for the position, Adibi may have earned a roster spot.
-Also impressive on the defensive side of the ball was DE Cheta Ozougwu. He picked up a sack, his third of the preseason, and nearly had two more. He again showed a quick first step and great burst around the edge. He has value as a situational pass rusher.
He's battling with Chancey Davis for the club's fifth DE spot, assuming Chicago's coaches choose to keep five. Davis had a poor showing and struggled against the run, his supposed strength. Ozougwu, an undrafted rookie, definitely outplayed the veteran tonight.
-Third-string quarterback Josh McCown played every snap on offense. He finished the campaign 20/29 for 157 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT, good for a 90.7 QB rating. The Bears are contemplating keeping just two signal callers and gave McCown one last chance to show he's worth keeping. He definitely made the most of his opportunity.
His first TD pass was a thing of beauty. He looked off the safety and then floated a gorgeous touchdown pass to Dane Sanzenbacher in the end zone. McCown showed tonight he still has plenty left in the tank.
That said, I still feel the Bears will keep just Cutler and Campbell this year, as there are too many other needs on the rest of the roster.
-That grab by Sanzenbacher was also something special. With a defender draped all over his back, Sanzenbacher was able to pull in a one-handed catch as he was falling to the ground.
He's another player that is fighting for a roster spot. He has been battling with Rashied Davis for the team's final receiver spot for most of the preseason. Davis was released yesterday but that doesn't necessarily mean Sanzenbacher is going to make the team. There is a chance the club may keep just five wideouts, which means Sanzenbacher needed to step up tonight. He certainly did that, finishing with 2 catches for 34 yards and a TD.
-None of the team's top four tight ends stepped on the field tonight, outside of their duties on special teams. Brandon Venson, the fifth tight end, took all of the offensive reps. That signals to me that all four of those tight ends are slated to make the roster.
That could be at the expense of FB Tyler Clutts, who is a throwback lead blocker. He caught three passes tonight but he was inconsistent as a blocker. In my opinion, he did not show enough to make the final 53-man roster.
-For most of the game, McCown had all day to throw behind the team's backup offensive line. Most impressive of the group was LT James Brown, who was stout on the edge. He stonewalled Browns defensive ends on the backside all night and was strong as a run blocker as well.
If the Bears choose to keep nine offensive linemen, Brown did enough tonight to prove he's worthy of that final roster spot.
-Rookie cornerbacks Isaiah Frey and Greg McCoy were fighting for their jobs tonight. Frey was beat on a drag route that resulted in a Cleveland touchdown. Yet McCoy had one of the best plays of the night.
On a hitch pattern, McCoy made a great break on the ball and tipped the pass in the air. It bounced off a player's foot and back to McCoy, who then returned it for a touchdown. It was the first good play he's made all offseason, so it may not have been enough for him to make the team, but it sure was one heck of a play.
-The way onto an NFL roster is typically through special teams. To that end, Patrick Trahan did himself well in his bid for the sixth linebacker gig. He blocked a punt in the third quarter, which was then returned by Brittan Golden for a touchdown.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.