Final Thoughts: Final Preseason Outing Serves Some Back Of The Roster Players Well

Final Thoughts: Final Preseason Outing Serves Some Back Of The Roster Players Well
Bears wide receiver Marc Mariani celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the first half. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)

Well, that’s a wrap on the NFL preseason.

The regular season is officially seven days away with the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots set to host Pittsburgh. The Bears open their regular season slate with a matchup against division rival Green Bay just three days later on the first football Sunday at Soldier Field.

On Thursday night, the Bears ended the preseason with a 24-0 victory over the visiting Cleveland Browns. Not many big names took the field, but it was an important game for Bears’ management and their coaches to dissect the back of the roster with final cuts needing to be done by Saturday’s 4 p.m. ET/3 p.m. CT deadline.

For what it’s worth the Bears finished the preseason with a 3-1 record and shut out their opponents in the second half of all four games. They also ended up with a plus 10 turnover margin.

Offensive flow

Not only does second-year San Jose State product David Fales have the best flow, aka hair, of the quarterback room, he put together a solid performance on Thursday night.

Even with limited action during training camp due to an illness, Fales completed 14-18 pass attempts for 131 yards and two touchdowns as he recorded a 134.0 passer rating.

The first touchdown strike came on a check down to Marc Mariani, who took it 19 yards for the score in the second quarter. Fales later found Ify Umodu on an 11-yard touchdown throw as he was being blitzed. Umodu proceeded to do his now infamous yoga pose celebration.

It was a good night for Fales, who had pressure on his back coming into this game with the addition of Zac Dysert. Dysert came in late for Fales, but connected on just 1-4 of his throws for nine yards. He looked shaky, but it was likely the unfamiliarity with the cast around him that played a big part in that.

Dysert was seen smiling and laughing with offensive coordinator Adam Gase late in the game, so it remains to be seen which quarterback the Bears will indeed keep. At the very least, Fales helped his case to earn a roster spot somewhere in this league even if it isn’t with the Bears.

Wide receiver battle

Mariani and Umodu reeled in the two Bears’ offensive touchdowns on the night while Josh Bellamy, Rashad Lawrence and Cameron Meredith made plays as well. Speedy slot receiver A.J. Cruz was in a boot due to a right foot injury, according to Sun-Times writer Adam Jahns.

It was Mariani who finished with a team-high 32 yards on three receptions. Bellamy reeled in an impressive 29-yard grab prior to Umodu’s touchdown. Meredith had four catches for 26 yards while Umodu compiled three grabs for 24 yards and Lawrence’s lone catch for 11 yards was a doozy right near the sideline.

John Fox and his staff need to figure out who they want to keep behind starters Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson. It was quite encouraging that all three players were seen playing catch prior to the game as Royal and Wilson specifically were warming up and Jeffery just threw around, per CBS Sports insider Zach Zaidman.

You have to believe at this point that Bellamy and Mariani are locks to make the team due to their special teams play and solid offensive production this preseason. The Bears could pick between the trio of Lawrence, Meredith and Umodu and it’s pretty interchangeable. All three have shown flashes.

Defensive pressure

The Bears’ defense totaled seven sacks on the night and added three turnovers. Of the three turnovers, the first two were forced fumbles by linebackers Lamarr Houston and Jonathan Anderson while safety Sherrod Martin had an interception which he returned 25 yards for the score in the late stages of the third quarter.

Anderson finished tied with Kyle Woestmann in sacks with two while Willie Young, John Timu and Mason Foster each tallied a sack. Anderson also had a team-high three tackles for a loss along with five solo stops. He made his case for a roster spot at a deep linebacker position.

Cornerback Terrance Mitchell had the fumble recovery on the Houston strip while defensive lineman Cornelius Washington came up with the recovery on Anderson’s takeaway.

Overall, the Bears’ defense brought the heat often and limited Cleveland’s offense to 187 total yards as the Browns backs averaged only 2.6 yards per carry.

Tough decisions await 

Hard decisions are coming in the next few days with some of the names mentioned above including at quarterback with Fales and Dysert and in the linebacker room with Timu, Anderson and David Bass. Also, Martin likely put his name in the hat at safety with depth lacking at the position.

One of the toughest spots could be at running back where Ka’Deem Carey has excelled all preseason. He finished with a team-high 68 yards on 12 carries with a long of 22. Rookie Jeremy Langford was impressive as well with eight carries and 54 yards, which included a 34-yard dash.

Decisions aplenty are on the horizon. The Bears will have to cut 22 players by Saturday. Make sure to check back here for all the latest updates on the Bears’ moves as Bears Backer has you covered.

What are you thoughts on the Bears’ roster heading into final cuts?

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