Precautionary Measure

LAKE FOREST — Considering the injury problem the Bears have had since the start of training camp, it doesn't come as a surprise that head coach Lovie Smith plans on keeping several players out of the preseason finale.

Brian Urlacher wasn't expected to play against the Cleveland Browns on Friday, but Lance Briggs, Mike Brown, Charles Tillman and Thomas Jones will also sit.

"The third preseason game it's a dress rehearsal," Smith said. "The fourth game we want to take a final look at some of the guys that we really need to look at and that's what we'll do. If there's someone with an injury that might hurt us we won't play them."

There is also a chance that Joe Odom will miss the game because of a calf strain, which leaves the Bears without their top two options at strong-side linebacker. Marcus Reese had taken the job from Odom early in training camp, but a hamstring pull will sideline him for at least another two weeks.

Bryan Knight has been working with the first team defense at strong side linebacker and is likely to get the start against Cleveland. It appeared the ‘02 fifth-round pick was in serious jeopardy of not making the team less than two weeks ago.

There are several other competitions still undecided with two of the closer battles at safety and tight end.

Cameron Worrell and Todd Johnson are competing for one roster spot. Johnson has had the more productive preseason, but Worrell did appear in 14 games for Chicago as an undrafted free agent out of Fresno state. Johnson, a fourth-round pick in 2003, missed his rookie campaign because of a broken jaw.

Despite missing more than a month because of a hamstring pull, Desmond Clark is the Bears starter at tight end. Dustin Lyman, who is tied for the team lead with five receptions, appears to have secured the number two role. That leaves John Gilmore and Gage Reid fighting for the third spot on the depth chart.

Like Clark, Gilmore missed the bulk of training camp with a hamstring injury and will make his preseason debut against the Browns. He's the Bears best blocking tight end and has appeared in 23 games over the past two seasons with five starts.

Reid got a shot largely because of the injuries to Clark and Gilmore. He impressed the coaching staff in training camp with pass catching capabilities and has caught three passes in the preseason with one touchdown.

Chicago could carry four tight ends, but it's unlikely. Either way Reid is happy with what he's been able to accomplish with the Bears.

"I'm nervous because you never know what's going to happen as far as the roster goes, but I can't really worry about that right now," Reid said. "I gave it everything I have and obviously there's stuff I need to improve on, but yes I am happy with the way I was able to do things."

In need of a tune up: While Rex Grossman has locked up his starting job, the passing game looked out of sync against New Orleans. The quarterback should play the majority of the first quarter vs. Cleveland.

"With the passing game being a little disjointed still we've got to have some good rhythm against the Browns and that's what we're looking for," offensive coordinator Terry Shea said.

Grossman didn't complete a pass vs. the Saints until the second quarter and finished the night 6-for-18.

Roster Move: The Bears continue to look for depth in the secondary, as Chicago claimed two cornerbacks off waivers on Wednesday.

Second-year cornerback Blue Adams from Jacksonville and rookie cornerback Vontez Duff from Houston were added to the mix. Adams played in eight games for the Jaguars last year, primarily on special teams, and Duff was a sixth-round draft choice this year out of Notre Dame.

To make room on the 65-man roster for Adams and Duff, the Bears waived cornerback Eric Kelly and wide receiver Jamin Elliott. Chicago also activated defensive end Adewale Ogunleye by transferring defensive tackle Darrell Campbell to the reserve/non-football injury list.


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