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Bears to watch during final 4 weeks of lost season

For some, watching the last month of the Bears’ season with no postseason possibility will be as exciting as watching grass grow — and then die and trip up a player on Soldier Field’s traditional December bog.

But the Bears — who mathematically aren’t eliminated yet, but c’mon — still have a lot to learn in the final four games of the season.

Here are the players we’ll be watching:

The young guys

The Bears should get a glimpse of how their younger players will handle a larger role.

Jon Bostic will get an extended tryout at weak-side linebacker, where he could start next season if, as expected, the injured Lance Briggs leaves town.

Linebacker Christian Jones saw duty in the Bears’ nickel package Thursday. Fellow rookies Brock Vereen and cornerback Al Louis-Jean could see extra snaps to determine their roles next season, too.

The contract players

The Bears need to make a decision on players whose contracts will expire at the end of the season — namely, defensive tackle Stephen Paea and safety Chris Conte.

Paea is putting together his best year — his six sacks are many as he’d totaled in his entire career leading up to this season.

Conte has been solid, but has struggled to stay on the field. He suffered a concussion in the third preseason game and, because of injuries to his shoulder, head and eyes, did not finish games in Weeks 2, 3, 5 and 12.

Center Roberto Garza, who is 35 and playing in his 10th season at Halas Hall, was signed to a one-year deal in February. This month might be his last with the Bears.

Matt Forte

The Bears’ most obvious Pro Bowl candidate is putting together one of his best seasons ever. His 650 receiving yards on 78 catches are already franchise records, and his 828 rushing yards are within striking distance — barely — of his career high of 1,339 last season.

It will be interesting to see if the Bears lean heavily on Forte — who never wants to leave the field — or decide to save him a few miles in favor of rookie Ka’Deem Carey.

Carey has 35 carries for 154 yards this season.

And, of course, Jay

The future of coach Marc Trestman — and, perhaps by proxy, general manager Phil Emery — depends on his ability to mold quarterback Jay Cutler into the leader of an elite offense.

The Bears are married to Cutler next year and beyond, and need something — anything — to create offensive momentum heading into the offseason.

No. 21 in the league in scoring, the Bears need to show an offensive spark, whether the games matter or not.


Twitter: @patrickfinley