The Chicago Bears head to Cleveland Thursday night to battle the Browns in their final preseason game of 2012.
The starters will likely only play one or two drives in this game. This game is about the players on the roster bubble and the key backups.
The Bears roster is currently at 74 players
, they need to be down to 53 players by Friday evening.
Here are five players you should watch closely in preseason game number four
RB Armando Allen, WR Brittan Golden, DE Chauncey Davis, CB Jonathan Wilhite and QB Josh McCown.
Like mentioned above the players on the bubble will be looked at very closely. Especially the players trying to earn their way onto the team through special teams.
Here are some positions to pay attention to in this one.
The starters are set in stone, Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings and D.J. Moore. Kelvin Hayden is locked in as the fourth cornerback on the roster, but after that the position is up in the air. Veteran Jonathan Wilhite
could stick because of his experience, but rookies Isaiah Frey
and Greg McCoy
have showed some promise this preseason. Also, second-year corner Cornelius Brown
continues to battle for a roster spot. Tonight we should get a serious look at the bottom four corners. The Bears will likely keep two of the four, but don't be shocked if it's both rookies, Frey and McCoy because of their athleticism.
With veteran Kahlil Bell out of the picture, Armando Allen or Lorenzo Booker have a chance at earning the third running back spot. Both players have shown their value on special teams. Booker is a very good kick returner, while Allen is a speedy runner similar to Garrett Wolfe a couple of seasons ago. It will come down to special teams play. The player who performs better tonight will likely get a chance to stick this season. Armando Allen might have the upper-hand.
Defensive ends Israel Idonije and Julius Peppers can play defensive tackle as well, so that could mean the Bears opt to keep more ends than tackles this season. Besides backups Shea McClellin and Corey Wootton the defensive end position is a mystery to anyone. Ends Chauncey Davis, Cheta Ozougwu and Aston Whiteside are likely battling for one spot. Backup defensive tackles Brian Price, Nate Collins and Jordan Miller are likely battling for one spot as well. All six of the backup defensive linemen will get an extensive look tonight. Expect Price to earn a spot on the roster at tackle, while Davis and Ozougwu will battle it out for a spot in the end rotation.
Jason Campbell will get a chance to play a lot in this game, while third-stringer Josh McCown will likely play the entire second half. McCown is playing for a roster spot. The Bears might opt to go with only two quarterbacks or they could keep the veteran McCown, who would earn $700,000 on the season. I think it would be a mistake to let McCown go considering how he played at the end of last season, but the Bears could see other positions as areas that need more depth. McCown has to play well tonight to stay with the 2012 Bears. Rookie QB Matt Blanchard was let go by the Bears, but he could be brought back to the team on Saturday when the practice squad is allowed to be formed.
This game doesn't mean anything for the 2012 season, but it means a lot in terms of depth on this team. The Bears have to cut 21 players by Friday night, so figuring out who deserves a spot on the roster is important.
The secondary is a position that could use another veteran with rookie Brandon Hardin out for the season and Chris Conte banged up.
The injury to punter Adam Podlesh, gives rookie Ryan Quigley a shot at sticking on the roster, which would force the Bears to keep two punters for the first time in years.
Tonight is just the beginning for the 2012 Chicago Bears, who are looking to make a deep run into the NFL postseason.
Expect it to be a clear night in Cleveland with a temperature in the lower 60's for most of the game.
Jake Perper is the owner and head writer for Bearsbacker.com. Follow him on Twitter, @Bearsbacker and on Facebook for up to the minute news about the Bears.