For one night only, those at the bottom of the Bears’ roster will go from underused to overworked.
Thursday, they’re fighting for a job on the 53-man roster — and, in some cases, the practice squad — by doing other roles, too. Because the Bears will hold out many of their surefire starters — and, in an almost-as-long list, their injured players — many on the field against the Browns will play special teams, too.
“That’s what I’m looking forward to,” said wide receiver Josh Bellamy. “I’m not looking forward to sitting down or sitting off.”
The preseason finale at Soldier Field is as public as a tryout gets.
“I’ve been there,” guard Matt Slauson said. “But this is their time to prove their worth in this league, to prove to this team and 31 other teams that they’re worthy of being on someone’s squad.
“So the smart young guy wouldn’t say, ‘God, I’m gonna be tired.’ The smart young guy would say, ‘Hey, this is my opportunity. I got a shot.’”
Here are five players to watch:
Vladimir Mills, Jr., OL
OK, we Frankensteined Vladimir Ducasse, Jordan Mills and Charles Leno, Jr.’s names together. But the Bears are desperate for one — just one! — to earn their trust enough to start.
Mills and Leno have had all preseason to claim the starting right tackle job, and haven’t. Ducasse would play guard if Kyle Long moves to tackle. Shifting the Pro Bowler, it seems, would be a referendum on those three players.
Zac Dysert, QB
The presumption here is that coach John Fox plays Dysert despite him having only one practice, a walk-through, under his belt since being claimed Tuesday.
The former Bronco has experience in Adam Gase’s offense, and gives the Bears an insurance policy in case Jimmy Clausen’s concussion doesn’t clear by Week 1.
Even if Clausen is fine, Dysert is a more compelling long-term project than second-year player David Fales.
Ka’Deem Carey, RB
On the surface, Senorise Perry’s trip to Injured Reserve might have been the best thing to happen to Carey’s roster chances. However, he doesn’t replace what Perry does best — play special teams. (On-the-bubble inside linebacker John Timu, who’s played 42 downs on kicks and punts this preseason, does).
Still, Carey will get handed the ball a lot against the Browns. A good showing would make him hard to cut, particularly with Matt Forte and Jacquizz Rodgers in the final year of their contracts.
Will Sutton, DL
Fox wasn’t sure what to expect from the second-year player when he arrived.
“I think he’s proven that he’s moved up the depth chart,” he said. “They get rewarded on how they perform.”
Sutton has likely made the team, but keep an eye on where he lines up. Sutton can play both nose and end, but might be needed more at the former if Eddie Goldman’s concussion symptoms remain before Week 1.
Bear Pascoe, TE
Since Pascoe and Zach Miller played only seven snaps each Saturday, the Bears have added two more tight ends — waiver claim Gannon Sinclair on Tuesday and Khari Lee in a trade Wednesday.
The Bears weren’t thrilled with their options behind Martellus Bennett and Dante Rosario — no other tight end has a catch this preseason — and figure to keep Lee, for whom they gave up a 2017 sixth-round pick.
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