10 things to watch in the Bears-Browns preseason gameSeptember 1st, 2011 - 12:29 pm
The Bears conclude the preseason Thursday night at home against the Browns, and the fourth preseason game is often of as little importance as the first one — if not less. If the starters play at all — and the most prominent of which probably will not — it’ll only be for a series or two. By now, the coaches have probably made up their minds on which players they’d like to see make the 53-man roster, but there could be some last-minute performances that help them with the final decisions. Here are 10 things — or players, for this entry — to keep an eye on against the Browns.
Caleb Hanie, QB
By now, we have a pretty good idea of what Caleb Hanie is. He’s a quarterback with good mobility and athleticism and shows flashes of an upside. But he also lacks consistency and, from Day 1, has not been on offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s good side. Things are probably not going to change much this close to the regular season, but unless Hanie completely flops in the preseason finale, he’s likely to enter the season as the Bears’ No. 2 quarterback and the team won’t bring in an experienced veteran.
Nathan Enderle, QB
The Bears thought they could be sly and try to stash developmental quarterback Dan LeFevour on their practice squad last season, but the Bengals had other plans and snatched him up to their 53-man roster. Will the Bears try to do the same with Enderle? Enderle did not get to play in the Bears’ third preseason game against the Titans, but he should see a lot of playing time in the fourth game with Jay Cutler likely to sit out. Enderle needs to show some flashes in order for the Bears to feel he’s worth keeping around to develop.
Eddie Williams, FB
Martz’s offense does not use a fullback and instead uses an H-back, which is often handled by a tight end. But Williams has shown good potential as a lead blocker — even upending a Bills defender in the first preseason game, clearing the way for a big Marion Barber first down run. Williams likely will be competing with tight end Kyle Adams, who has been primarily practicing in the H-back role.
Kyle Adams, TE
Like Williams, Adams will try to make the roster as an H-back and he’s been working in that role since being switched from tight end. Adams could have the upper hand in the competition with Williams because he’s a natural tight end and there could be some doubt about Desmond Clark’s recovery from Saturday’s knee injury.
Mario Addison, DE
Addison was raved about after the Bills game — as was Vernon Gholston, who has been cut — but has kind of tapered off since then. He comes from a school that has a recent history of producing pass rushers and the Bears probably feel like they can utilize Rod Marinelli’s defensive line knowledge to help develop him. Even if Addison does not make the final cut, there’s a good probability the Bears would look to stash him on the practice squad if he is not picked up by any other team.
Marcus Harrison, DT
Thursday’s game against the Browns could be Harrison’s last stand with the Bears. He’s probably on the outs as it now stands, but he could help his chances of making the final roster with a great performance. The coaches have publicly stated their approval of Harrison’s work ethic in recent weeks, this coming after he showed up to camp overweight for the second time in three years and missed the first five practices. But due to Amobi Okoye’s production and versatility, it could be difficult for Harrison to remain with the team past Saturday.
J.T. Thomas, LB
The Bears’ sixth-round pick ran with the starters for the first week of training camp due to the rule that free agent acquisitions — both new players and old — could not practice until the new league year began. Since then, little has been heard from or about Thomas. Two things are working in Thomas’ favor and that is that he’s a draft pick and the Bears have little depth at linebacker.
Dom DeCicco, LB
DeCicco has shown good potential throughout the preseason but has also had his moments of mental mistakes, one of which led to a blocked punt on special teams. There’s a good chance he’ll back up Urlacher in the middle, and that’s fitting considering that DeCicco, like Urlacher, played safety in college and transitioned to middle linebacker in the NFL. DeCicco will need a strong finish to the preseason to maintain a roster spot, though.
Joshua Moore, CB
The Bears’ fifth-round draft pick from a year ago didn’t play much in 2010 and hasn’t made a big impression through the preseason, but the Bears might be committed to developing him because he has good size for a cornerback and showed good instincts in college.
Winston Venable, S
Venable is an undrafted free agent who is looking to stick around with the Bears. He’s a physical safety who can help out on special teams and whom Dave Toub noted as having “good football instincts.” The coaching staff has taken notice of him as he has recorded three special-teams tackles in the last two games. Due to paper-thin depth at safety, the Bears have to be sure they don’t use a roster spot on a player who is purely a special teams player with little defensive skills.