Of the 75 players on the Bears roster for tonight's preseason finale against the Browns in Cleveland, 22 will not survive the final cuts, which must be announced by 3 p.m. Saturday.
Most, if not all, of the Bears' starters will not play in Cleveland. That makes the performance of those who do participate especially interesting because most of them are playing for jobs.
"There are guys that we're going to evaluate off this game that really have a chance to make our team," coach Marc Trestman said. "There are a good number that are going to be evaluated and have an opportunity to impact our 53."
The performance of several players should be of particular interest.
Running back Senorise Perry, an undrafted rookie from Louisville will get opportunities to run and catch, and he'll also be evaluated returning and covering on special teams.
"It's going to be good for Senorise and the other guys," offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said. "We'll give them one more chance to run the ball and show what they can do."
The "other guys" are former NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch and Shaun Draughn, who are competing for what could be just one spot behind Matt Forte and fourth-round pick Ka'Deem Carey.
Perry has 11 preseason carries for 45 yards and 3 catches for 43 yards. Lynch's only touches were in the opener, when he picked up 24 yards on 7 carries. Draughn has 8 carries for 39 yards and 3 catches for 22 yards.
Perry has been the most productive of an uninspiring group of returners, picking up 51 yards on 2 kickoff returns last week, and he's been noticed in coverage as well.
"He's gotten better every game," special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis said. "I'm not just talking about as a returner; I'm talking about as a cover guy."
DeCamillis is also looking for a punt returner to be more explosive than Micheal Spurlock, who has 9 yards on 5 attempts. That's where Chris Williams comes in -- the Bears hope.
Williams, a 5-foot-8, 175-pound wide receiver, has big-play potential, but a hamstring injury has kept him out of action since the first game. Williams is also expected to get a look on kickoff returns, where he and Perry will get most of the reps, according to DeCamillis.
Evaluation of the punt returners has been problematic since the Bears have only forced 9 punts, 3 of which resulted in fair catches. Recently added wide receiver Santonio Holmes could also get a chance to return punts against the Browns.
Veteran Josh Morgan has clearly outperformed the competition for the No. 3 wide receiver spot with 8 catches for 125 yards, but he can't afford to coast, especially with Holmes now in the contest.
"Josh has done a nice job of being a physical receiver," Kromer said of the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder. "He gets in and out of cuts well, and he's making contested catches in practice. So it's going to be case of showing consistency to do that day in and day out. That's important. That's what we need to see next."
Rookie quarterback David Fales could play the entire game after throwing just 7 passes in the opener and not playing the last two weeks. Fales is No. 3 on the depth chart, and regardless of how he plays, he won't be moving up. But his performance will still be of interest, even to starting quarterback Jay Cutler, who has been impressed.
"When he came in, he was good," Cutler said. "You could tell he was a polished quarterback. He's got real good feet; a good sense of when to move (in the pocket), when to move on to another receiver. His arm is plenty strong, it's just getting reps."
There are still questions with the young linebackers. Shea McClellin is still getting accustomed on the strong side after moving from defensive end. Jon Bostic is getting work in the middle behind D.J. Williams and backing up McClellin, in addition to playing in nickel alignments. Meanwhile, undrafted rookie Christian Jones is battling for one of the final linebacker spots, competing with Khaseem Greene and Jerry Franklin.
"Those guys have continued to progress," defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said when asked about McClellin, Bostic and Jones. "Guys are becoming more comfortable in what we're asking them to do. I feel like they're playing fast and physical. Christian had a real nice day (Monday), got his hands on a couple balls, had a couple interceptions, so we feel good about where those guys are going."
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Jones is expected to see his most extensive playing time against the Browns and perhaps could start.
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