The Bears head to Cleveland to battle the Browns in the preseason finale on Thursday night.
Typically teams sit their first-team units, but Cleveland head coach Hue Jackson is planning on playing some of his top guys early on.
John Fox and the Bears, they will most likely be going the safe route especially at quarterback where Brian Hoyer will see some time, but it will mostly be the David Fales show as he puts together more game tape.
The fourth preseason game is filled with rookies, bottom of the roster veterans and unknowns for the most part. The Bears haven’t put together a win in the preseason and are coming off a 23-7 loss against Kansas City. It would be nice to see some positives before Week 1 regardless of who is on the field.
Final cuts come on Saturday where rosters go from 75 to 53 by 4 pm ET. The next day teams are allowed to form the 10-man practice squad.
With so much on the line for the fringe players, here are five Bears I’ll be watching on Thursday night in Cleveland.
WR Cameron Meredith
There’s a lot to like with Cameron Meredith. The second-year Illinois State product had 11 receptions for 120 yards a season ago. Until last week’s dress rehearsal he was catchless in the preseason with more penalties than targets.
However, he totaled four grabs for 64 yards and a touchdown as he showed a ton of promise with third-string quarterback Connor Shaw. At 6’3″, 207 lbs. Meredith is a lenghty player who needs to flash his abilities to make the roster. The Bears have 10 wide receivers with Josh Bellamy, Daniel Braverman and Deonte Thompson serving as his direct competition.
T Garry Williams
The 30-year-old tackle has played in only two NFL games over the last three years. Garry Williams played north of the border for the Calgary Stampeders last season. Injuries have been tough on him, including a broken ankle in 2011, a torn ACL and MCL in 2013, a back issue in 2014 and a hyperextended elbow in 2015.
However, the Bears have a need for a swing tackle behind starters Charles Leno Jr. and Bobby and Massie and Williams has been a nice surprise this August. According to Pro Football Focus, he has graded out as the top player this preseason. He has 21 career starts, but the finale in Cleveland will decide his fate with this team.
DL Will Sutton
A third round pick in 2014, Will Sutton has 31 tackles in 28 games, 12 starts with the Bears. Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman and Mitch Unrein will be your first-team starters with Jonathan Bullard and Cornelius Washington serving as the top backups.
Sutton is vying for a spot with Ego Ferguson and Terry Williams. At 6’0″, 297 lbs., he’s a bit undersized, but has played well in parts at nose tackle. He has four tackles this preseason. The Bears have eight defensive linemen on the roster currently and my hunch is that Sutton will stick around past final cuts.
TE Ben Braunecker
Last Tuesday Ben Braunecker practiced for the first time since July 31. Battling a right ankle injury since then, the undrafted rookie tight end from Harvard is well behind the loop. However, at 6’4″, 255 lbs., his ability to be an asset as a blocker could keep him around.
Braunecker finished first in every category among the tight end group at the NFL Combine in February. With veterans Tony Moeaki and Rob Housler, second-year man Khari Lee and converted tight end Greg Scruggs all looking to make the team, Braunecker could be destined for the practice squad. This is a big game for the rookie in his first NFL action.
CB Jacoby Glenn
Whether I put down Deiondre’ Hall, De’Vante Bausby or Jacoby Glenn, all three guys will play extensively in this game. The young cornerback room still needs to be figured out with Kyle Fuller (knee) looking doubtful for Week 1 and Tracy Porter (concussion protocol) possibly out as well for the opener in Houston.
At 6’0″, 185 lbs., the Central Florida product isn’t very strong in his upper body, but Glenn’s range is pretty solid. He has seven tackles and two pass breakups this preseason after appearing in one game in 2015. Glenn has earned plenty of snaps with the first-team and in the finale, he should see extensive action. The Bears’ cornerback room is a mystery to just about everyone at this point.
Honorable mentions: WR B.J. Daniels, LB Christian Jones, S DeAndre Houston-Carson, WR Daniel Braverman, C Khaled Holmes, NT Terry Williams, CB Deiondre’ Hall, RB Jordan Howard
Who will you be watching on in the preseason finale?
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