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Bears notebook: Mason Foster finishes strong in bid at LB

This was a new experience for Mason Foster. But he made the most of it.

The fifth-year linebacker, who was limited to 10 games last season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because of injuries to his shoulder and Achilles, seemed pegged for a starting role when he was signed in the offseason. But he’s spent the preseason behind Shea McClellin at inside linebacker. On Thursday, Foster was starting in the preseason finale — a game he had never played in during his four seasons as a starter with the Buccaneers, even as a rookie in 2011.

“It was definitely different,” Foster said. “I’m trying to make this team first and just keep working — doing whatever I can to help this team win, show them my strengths.”

Foster put in his bid for playing time with a trio of impact plays in the Bears’ 24-0 victory over the Browns at Soldier Field. Foster had a sack of third-string quarterback Thaddeus Lewis on a cross-dog blitz on the Browns’ opening drive. He stopped running back Terrance West for no gain. And he tackled running back Shaun Draughn — the former Bear — for a two-yard loss on the Browns’ second drive. He had four tackles in two series.

“I’m trying to get back to how I used to play,” Foster said. “My shoulder’s fine. But getting back to making big plays and flying around a little bit. I feel I’ve made progress and I’m feeling good right now.”

On the bubble?

Linebacker Jon Bostic can’t seem to catch a break. With a lot to prove after a difficult preseason battling injuries, he was unable to play because of a ankle injury.

“Everything is good. I got rolled up [against the Bengals],” Bostic said. “It’s getting better every day.”

What me worry?

Jordan Mills, who started at right tackle against the Browns, doesn’t seem to know what all the fuss is about with the uncertainty at right tackle.

“First off, there wasn’t any uncertainty,” he said. “I feel great. I’m ready to get out there with my teammates Sept. 13 against Green Bay and try to pull off this win.”

Jennings to Tampa

It was no surprise that former Bears corneback Tim Jennings landed with Lovie Smith in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers announced Thursday they have agreed to terms with the two-time Pro Bowl cornerback.

Smith now has five of his former Bears players on his defense: Jennings, safeties Chris Conte and Major Wright, cornerback Isaiah Frey and defensive tackle Henry Melton. Linebacker Khaseem Green, another former Bear, returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown for the Bucs against the Dolphins on Thursday night.

Alshon sighting

Injured wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Marquess Wilson played catch on the field before the game. Wilson, recovering from a hamstring injury, ran some routes and caught some warm-up passes. But Jeffery did not do any running.

Coach John Fox offered no update on Jeffery’s condition. The fourth-year wide receiver has been listed as day-to-day with a mild calf strain since Aug. 13.

“Same thing I’ve been saying for a long time,” Fox said when asked about Jeffery. “From a competitive standpoing, we’re going to say as little as we can, just because we really don’t want to help our opponent. I think understanding that is important for everyone.”

Elsewhere on the injury front, Running back Matt Forte, who sat out the only two practices this week on Monday and Tuesday, ran vigorously prior to the game but did not play in it. Quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who has a concussion, did some drop-backs and threw some passes before the game but did not play in it.

Tough break

Rookie safety Anthony Jefferson, probably battling for a practice-squad spot, got off to a good start with a tackle of DeAnte Suanders on a five-yard punt return. But he suffered an arm injury and did not return to the game.

Old-home week

Former Bears quarterback Josh McCown, who will be the Browns’ opening-day starter, caught up with former teammates Jay Cutler, Forte and Jeffery at midfield prior to the game.

McCown’s 109.0 passer rating (13 touchdowns, one interception) in eight games (five starts) in 2013 under Marc Trestman is the best for a Bears quarterback with more than 20 pass attempts since at least 1965.

Paying respect

Prior to kickoff, the Bears had a moment of silence for Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, who was killed in the line of duty on Tuesday in Fox Lake.

The captains

Running back Ka’Deem Carey, defensive end David Bass, defensive tackle Brandon Dunn, quarterback David Fales and wide receiver Ify Umodu represented the Bears for the opening coin flip at midfield.