CHICAGO – For the life of me I cannot understand the logic of insisting on scheduling four exhibition games and then refusing to play anyone who’s going to be on your team in the fourth and final game.
I asked coach Marc Trestman the question the other day, and his response was: “That’s a great question. I know that we worked hard last week to get ready to play a game. We’re going to work hard this week as if it’s training camp and then we’re going to rest them and get ‘em focused on Game 1. The question you have has a good answer.
“There would be some that would say, why not play ’em for a half the week before and get their game conditioning up? So I don’t know that there’s a right or wrong, it’s just the direction that we go here and that a lot of teams around the league are going.”
I won’t argue that there is a right or wrong answer, and certainly Trestman is correct that the overwhelming majority of teams refuse to take the fourth exhibition seriously. But please explain this one to me.
In the unique situation the Bears find themselves, where this veteran team is going to start three rookies in Week 1, is it really possible that Kyle Long, Jordan Mills and Jon Bostic are so far along that they couldn’t have benefited from at least a few reps, or more realistically, a quarter or even a half?
I know, no right or wrong answer. But really? OK, it was what it was, so let’s move on.
I think the reality is that while I wrote recently there may have been 36 players on the roster competing for 14 spots in the final game, there probably weren’t more than a handful of players the coaches hadn’t made up their minds about.
When I asked assistant head coach Joe DeCamillis the other day about how many final roster decisions would be debated between position coaches and him, he told me: “We’ve met so much that most of the meetings at the end are just to finalize things. We’ve met a lot on personnel during this camp, so we have a good feel of where we’re going to go.”
So let’s talk about a few of the handful of guys whose fate may have actually been in doubt going into the game and how they may have done.
After an excellent offseason and great start to camp, Joe Anderson dinged a shoulder and seemed to have leveled off at wide receiver. With four catches on four targets in the first half for 64 yards and a touchdown, and Earl Bennett’s health still uncertain, it’s almost impossible to see Anderson getting cut.
It is almost as difficult to envision Brandon Hardin making the football team. Third-round picks usually get more than one season on injured reserve to prove themselves, but Hardin has proved nothing and shown little promise.
It appeared Michael Ford had wrested the No. 3 running back spot from Armando Allen going into the Browns game, and nothing happened Thursday to change that impression.
With a 64 completion percentage, touchdown pass, 102.8 passer rating and 58 percent success on third-down conversions, Jordan Palmer did enough to claim the third quarterback spot Trestman has said he favors.
The question here is can the Bears be comfortable cutting Palmer and knowing he’ll probably stay available while they sort out the rest of their roster and possibly be brought back in a few weeks?
I would guess J’Marcus Webb is done as a Bear, while Tony Fiammetta gets to hang around.
Finally there is Fendi Onobun. Targeted seven times, he had four catches for 45 yards, one drop and one bobble that turned into a pick-six for the Browns. It just feels like, as badly as the Bears want it to work, it didn’t.
Just my best guesses, so what do you all think? We’ll have our answers soon.
• Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media and HubArkush.com. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.