Booker, Allen running for a job with Bears
One of the roster battles most worth watching in Thursday night's preseason finale will be between Lorenzo Booker and Armando Allen for the No. 3 running back gig.
Both are undersized but have good quickness, can catch the ball out of the backfield and have return ability on special teams. There doesn't seem to be a lot separating one from the other.
"He's done everything we've asked him to do," said Bears coach Lovie Smith about the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Allen. "He can play special teams. When you're in a reserve role, you need to be able to do a few things. He can return. There are a lot of things he can do. We have a pretty good idea how we would use him if he is on the roster."
The 5-foot-10, 201-pound Booker, a fifth-year veteran, has been a bit flashier so far in the preseason, returning a kickoff 105 yards for a TD in Week 2.
"When you get a chance, you need a splash play to make everybody take notice," Smith said. "The kickoff return did that. He has a history in the league, too. In every situation we've put him in, we've seen something special from him. He's a little bit different than our other running backs too -- a quick guy -- so he brings a different dimension to the rest of the group."
Special teams coordinator Dave Toub was impressed with the performance of undrafted rookie punter Ryan Quigley, who filled in for injured Adam Podlesh (hip) against the Giants. Quigley will handle those chores again Thursday.
"He's our punter," Toub said. "He's the only one we have left. We're counting on him."
Last week Quigley placed 3 of his 7 punts inside the 20-yard line, and his 43.6-yard gross average was marred only by a blocked kick that wasn't his fault.
"He had a great game," Toub said. "We just allowed him to punt it away, and he relaxed and he carried over what we have been seeing in practice onto the field. First two games, not so good. That third game, he was really good."
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli expects players battling for spots at the bottom of the roster to make Thursday night's preseason finale meaningful -- at least for them.
"I've always used the term 'Three dogs; one bone,' and they're fighting," Marinelli said. "It's tough on these guys. They have to go out and compete, and I have great respect for what they have to go out and do."
Sitting it out:
Brian Urlacher (knee), Stephen Paea (ankle), Chris Conte (shoulder), Adam Podlesh (hip) and Dom DeCicco (groin) did not practice Monday and won't play Thursday.
Paea, the starting nose tackle before his injury, had hoped to be back on the practice field Monday, but his return has been pushed back a week.
Running back Harvey Unga was waived Monday afternoon to reduce the roster to the required 75. Final cuts to 53 are due by 8 p.m. (Chicago time) Friday.
Unga, BYU's career leader in rushing yards, was the Bears' seventh-round pick in the 2010 supplemental draft.