The Chicago Bears wrap up the 2015 preseason slate on Thursday night against the visiting Cleveland Browns.
With the roster trimmed down to 75 players after Tuesday’s cut deadline, there will be plenty to pay attention to in this fourth and final preseason game.
The Bears have 14 undrafted rookies currently on their roster. Expect all of them to get an extensive look against the Cleveland.
John Fox and Co. will have to make more tough decisions following the game as all NFL teams will have to get down to the 53-man roster by Saturday at 4 p.m ET/3 p.m. CT.
Here are five players to watch in the Bears last game of the preseason as their regular season opener against Green Bay is officially just 10 days away.
The Bears picked up third-year quarterback Zac Dysert off waivers from Denver on Tuesday. Quarterback has turned out to be a need with Jimmy Clausen in concussion protocol and David Fales still yet to prove his worth.
Dysert has plenty of upside with a solid arm and nice pocket presence. He spent his first two seasons behind Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler in Denver. Dysert has familiarity with John Fox and Adam Gase as the trio were together from 2013-14. Clearly, the old Broncos’ brass and now the new Bears’ brass like what they see in him.
Expect to see plenty of Dysert on Thursday as Fales is expected to draw the start. Dysert should get the second half to prove his worth. Tuning in just to watch Dysert in this preseason finale is very worthwhile.
Perhaps one of the best undrafted rookies on the roster is Illinois State product Cameron Meredith.
With the injury bug hitting the wide receiver room hard, Meredith is among an unknown cast that is vying for roster spots. Josh Bellamy, Marc Mariani and Rashad Lawrence will get their chances as well. Bellamy and Mariani are likely locked into two spots as the two spent last season together in Chicago and have played solid at receiver this preseason.
Meredith has five receptions for 60 yards this preseason and could carve out one of the final roster spots with another nice showing on Thursday night. Pay attention to the 6-foot-3, 200-pounder, he has plenty of upside.
Along with Dysert, tight end Khari Lee is another new face on the Bears’ roster. Lee was acquired on Wednesday from the Houston Texans in exchange for a 2017 conditional sixth-round pick.
Lee wasn’t the only tight end that the Bears picked up this week. Former Arizona Cardinal Gannon Sinclair was claimed off waivers as Blake Annen was waived in a corresponding move. Lee should be given every opportunity to earn a roster spot behind starter Martellus Bennett while Sinclair could be a longshot.
The 6-4, 235-pound Bowie State product caught five passes for 71 yards this preseason with the Houston. Lee has the ability to play an H-back role or line up as a natural tight end with blocking his biggest strength. The Texans let him go considering their impressive depth at the position and the Bears didn’t want to risk another team scooping him after final cuts.
It remains to be seen how many tight ends the Bears keep, but Dante Rosario and Zach Miller are ahead on the depth chart while veteran Bear Pascoe and Sinclair are vying for spots. The recently acquired Lee will see the field often on Thursday.
Entering his third season, Demontre Hurst is transitioning to a new role under defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. He has lined up in his natural role at nickel cornerback and as a safety this off-season.
With Ryan Mundy (hip) out for the season, Hurst should have a big shot at making the final roster since depth at cornerback and safety is lacking right now.
If the Bears are using Hurst at safety, starters Antrel Rolle and Adrian Amos and third safety Brock Vereen are ahead of him. At cornerback, Kyle Fuller, Alan Ball, Sherrick McManis and Terrance Mitchell are ahead of him.
Regardless of where he is on the depth chart, Hurst is a valuable piece after appearing in 15 games a year ago, making two starts.
In a 3-4 scheme, third-year man David Bass could thrive. He’s recorded four sacks, an interception, a forced fumble and a defensive touchdown as a rotational defensive end in 20 games and two starts.
So far this preseason, Bass has five tackles and a sack. Although, he is currently listed with the third-team defense opposite Willie Young, Bass is a rising player. He admitted back in July in an exclusive interview with Bears Backer that the move to outside linebacker gives him “a better shot” of making the Bears’ roster.
Watch Bass Thursday night alongside Young as the two have much to prove with final cuts coming real soon. Bass has impressive physical attributes and the new Bears’ staff would be wise to keep him around.
Others to keep an eye on: Cornerback Bryce Callahan, safety Sherrod Martin, linebacker Mason Foster, running back Ka’Deem Carey, wide receiver A.J. Cruz and tight end Gannon Sinclair.
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What will you be watching in Thursday night’s Bears’ preseason finale?
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