Yet the final score was very misleading, as the Bears sat roughly 30 players, including every starter, while the Browns played starters on both sides of the ball well into the second quarter.
The good news is the Bears walked away from tonight’s contest unscathed, with no players leaving due to injury.
Despite the 20-point defeat, Chicago’s backups and third stringers made a number of plays. Some players shined, while others wilted under the pressure of a contest in which a number of jobs were won and lost.
With that in mind, here are five players who stood out and five players who stepped back in their bid to be a part of the 2014 Bears team.
Bass had done almost nothing through the first three preseason games but he showed up in a big way against the Browns. He finished the contest with six total tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. He even lined up for a few snaps at defensive tackle, which is the type of positional versatility Chicago's coaching staff loves. Bass has been competing with Austen Lane and Cornelius Washington for the club’s fifth DE spot and may have sneaked onto the final 53-man roster with his strong performance tonight.
Fales played the entire contest and looked poised and confident throughout. He completed 13 of 24 pass attempts for 126 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT, for a 69.1 passer rating. Fales showed excellent accuracy and surprisingly good arm strength. It was not a perfect outing but Fales certainly did enough to earn a spot on Chicago’s practice squad.
Holmes is 30-year-old coming off a foot injury but you wouldn’t have been able to tell that based on his outing in Cleveland. Holmes caught just one pass in which he turned a slant into a 32-yard touchdown, showing great burst and speed in the process. He also returned one punt for 30 yards. Holmes solidified his spot on the roster tonight and if he emerges as a viable weapon as both a receiver and punt returner, he’ll be the answer to two of the team’s biggest questions heading into the regular season.
Bellamy was outstanding against the Browns, racking up a team-high four receptions for 78 yards. His finest catch was his first, a 32-yard back-shoulder grab in which Bellamy contorted his body and reached over the defender to haul in the pass. He’s done very little to this point in the preseason but Bellamy showed a lot of potential against the Browns. He might be worth a flier as the club’s sixth wide receiver.
Hurst finished up his strong training camp and preseason with another solid outing against the Browns. He picked up a tackle and another impressive pass breakup. The Bears are unlikely to keep six corners but Hurst has done enough to warrant practice-squad consideration.
Draughn carried 10 times for 29 yards and caught three balls for 14 yards. It wasn’t a horrible game but just the fact he played, while Ka’Deem Carey didn’t even suit up, was a clear indication that Carey is Matt Forte’s backup. Draughn not only lost out to Carey for the No. 2 running back job but he may have also lost his roster spot to Senorise Perry.
Wilson has had a very strong preseason and led the defense with two PBUs on the night. Overall, the past month has been very good for Wilson, except for one play tonight. Rex Grossman lined up under center for the Browns and slung an ill-advised pass toward the sideline. Wilson undercut the pass and had nothing but 70 yards of green grass between him and the end zone, yet he dropped the pass. It’s unlikely that drop will hurt him too much but those are the types of plays that separate players from their competition, and Wilson blew it.
After sitting out the past two-and-a-half contests due to a hamstring injury, Williams needed to have a big game tonight to secure a roster spot. He wasn’t horrible, averaging 27 yards per return on three kick returns, yet he didn’t do anything to stand out. In fact, despite his speed and potential, Williams’ return to the field shed very little light on Chicago’s desperate return situation. He offers little value as a wide receiver other than straight-line speed, so Williams might have played himself off the roster tonight.
Jennings got the start and did very little to prove he deserves a spot on the final 53-man roster. Cleveland’s first-team passing attack targeted Jennings repeatedly on the opening drive and he had no answer. He did fall on a fumble but other than that, Jennings has shown almost nothing this preseason. If Chris Conte’s injury lingers and Jennings is somehow forced into action, Chicago’s secondary will be in bad shape.
Lynch participated in special teams but didn’t get a carry on offense until well into the fourth quarter. He’s the last man on the running back depth chart and is not in Chicago’s short-term or future plans.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.