Chicago Bears: J'Marcus Webb

Chicago Bears Preseason Live

July, 25, 2014
Jul 25
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Welcome to Chicago Bears training camp! ESPN.com Bears reporters Michael C. Wright and Jeff Dickerson have live updates and the latest news from Bourbonnais, Illinois.

Bears free agency: good and bad

March, 27, 2014
Mar 27
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Bushrod
Good
Jermon Bushrod
Position: Left tackle
Contract: Five years, $35,965,000 with $17,715,000 in total guarantees
Years of service with Bears: 2013-present

Recap: The perception is the Bears overpaid for Bushrod. In reality, the seven-year NFL veteran represented a massive upgrade over former starting left tackle, J'Marcus Webb. Bushrod anchored a Bears' offensive line that stayed intact for the entire 2013 season, until rookie right tackle Jordan Mills injured his foot in the first quarter of the team's Week 17 loss to the Green Bay Packers. With Bushrod protecting quarterback Jay Cutler's blind side, the Bears tied for fourth in the NFL with the fewest sacks allowed (30), while the line helped pave the way for tailback Matt Forte to rush for a career-high 1,339 yards. Bushrod is a professional in the locker room. He handles his business with class and is a terrific role model for the younger, impressionable offensive linemen.

Manumaleuna
Bad
Brandon Manumaleuna
Position: Tight end
Contract: Five years, $15 million
Year of service with Bears: 2010

Recap: Manumaleuna, a favorite of ex-offensive coordinator Mike Martz, caught five passes for 43 yards and one touchdown in his lone season with Chicago. He was released the following summer for reporting to training camp overweight, forcing the Bears to carry $1.6 million of dead salary cap money. Manumaleuna had a good run in the NFL with stops in St. Louis and San Diego, but failed to make an impact in Chicago. He missed a team meeting the night before the regular-season opener because he misunderstood the schedule. Manumaleuna was a fine guy in the locker room, but he never got with the program. He never played in another NFL regular-season game after his release from the Bears.

Rookie review: RT Jordan Mills

February, 6, 2014
Feb 6
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Stats: Selected by the Bears in the fifth-round of the 2013 NFL draft out of Louisiana Tech, Mills started all 16 games at right tackle before leaving the regular-season finale against the Green Bay Packers in the first quarter with a foot injury that required offseason surgery. Mills was part of a revamped Bears offensive line that surrendered 30 sacks (the Bears surrendered 44 sacks in 2012) and helped pave the way for Matt Forte to run for a career-high 1,339 yards and nine touchdowns.

2013 role: Mills stood out on draft weekend when he enthusiastically declared that he expected to contribute as a rookie. He began training camp behind veteran J’Marcus Webb at right tackle, but in a short period of time he moved past Webb on the depth chart. Mills never looked back while the Bears eventually cut Webb at the end of the preseason. Mills fractured the fifth metatarsal in his left foot in Week 17 and underwent surgery in January. If his rehab goes as expected, Mills should return to the field during OTAs sometime in May.

The good: Mills is friendly, outgoing and professional off the field, but he plays with a nasty streak. Mills got into it with Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen after the whistle in a game the Bears eventually lost in overtime in the Metrodome. Why does that matter? Because in three full seasons, Webb never went at anybody like that, not even Allen, who certainly had it coming after he ended ex-Bears guard Lance Louis’ season in 2012 with a cheap shot to the knees on a blindside block following an interception. Mills cares. He takes it personal. That's the type of attitude the Bears want from their offensive linemen. Mills never played himself out of the starting lineup. That’s important to note when evaluating his rookie season. It’s not as if the Bears struggled on offense. They ranked sixth in points scored per game (24.8) and eighth in total offense (381.8). If Mills had been a liability at right tackle, he would have been replaced.

The bad: Mills certainly wasn’t flawless. He made his share of mistakes. Several websites rated him as the Bears' worst offensive lineman in 2013. Some of those struggles can be attributed to the fact that Mills started all 16 games as a rookie. He also experienced a large jump in competition, going from a WAC school (Louisiana Tech) to the NFL. Mills definitely needs to work on his body and hit the weight room. Unfortunately, that kind of offseason work will have to wait until Mills recovers from the foot surgery. That is disappointing.

Looking ahead: Mills would really benefit from being able to participate in some of the offseason program before the team breaks until the beginning of training camp. If Mills can be physically ready to go when the club reports to Bourbonnais, Ill., in late July, there is no reason he cannot start the entire upcoming season at right tackle. Mills also gives the Bears the flexibility to move him to guard in the future, if the organization ultimately decides that Kyle Long’s immense talents are better suited at tackle. But at this point, Mills appears to have been a solid selection by the Bears in the fifth round, easily the club’s best fifth-round choice since Johnny Knox in 2009.

Bears not worried Webb gives Vikes edge

September, 12, 2013
9/12/13
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears seemed more concerned about their collective sweet tooth than they are about J'Marcus Webb revealing their secrets.

Webb was cut by the Bears at the end of the preseason before signing with the Minnesota Vikings, who will be at Soldier Field on Saturday.

Asked if he had a chance to join “J-Webb Nation”, the name Webb bestowed upon his social media followers, before Webb switched allegiances in the NFC North, Bears tight end Martellus Bennett had a revelation of a different kind.

“No, but I did eat his apple fritters,” Bennett said. “He used to bring apple fritters and I ate them, so I guess I was a part of J-Webb Nation. He kept him in his locker and like today, we would have J-Webb fritters. They were good, too. They were hot and moist. I always asked where he got them from.”

In all seriousness, the Bears claim that their concerns are minimal that Webb will give the Vikings an advantage when it comes to play-calling.

“We feel confident in our system and there are many ways to call plays, more than just one way to make our calls up front,” offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said. “We don’t feel any threat in that matter.”

Of course, Bennett had his own unique look at the situation when told that Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier was going to go to Webb for Bears insight.

“Any good general or colonel, if you get a spy as a prisoner of war, you always want to get as much information as you can,” Bennett said.

Frazier: Webb's transition a smooth one

September, 11, 2013
9/11/13
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier was a good sport on Wednesday when asked if former Chicago Bears offensive tackle J'Marcus Webb is providing the Vikings with inside information about his former team.

“We’re not finished, we got more questions for him,” Frazier said during a conference call with Chicago media members. “We’re going to be with him all week long so we got more questions for him. We got to keep asking him more and more.”

Webb
Minnesota represents a fresh start for Webb, whose three-year stint in Chicago can be best described as inconsistent, although in fairness to Webb he did enter the NFL as a seventh-round draft choice out of West Texas A&M. Despite being a late-round pick, the 6-foot-7 Webb started 44 of 46 games for the Bears from 2010-12, including 32 consecutive starts at left tackle. The Bears switched Webb to the right side after the club added Pro Bowl left tackle Jermon Bushrod in free agency, but the move failed to pan out. Rookie Jordan Mills passed up Webb on the depth chart a couple of weeks into training camp, a move Webb never recovered from. Even after agreeing to a pay cut, Webb was released by the Bears following the final preseason game against the Cleveland Browns. The Vikings promptly claimed Webb off waivers.

Frazier reported that Webb’s transition to Minnesota has been incident-free.

“I think it’s been relatively smooth,” Frazier said. “(He’s been) trying to get acclimated to this environment and finding a place to live and all the things that go along with moving. I think he’s handled it fairly well. His teammates seem to have accepted him. He’s getting along with them well. He’s picking up our system. Coaches are relating to him well. So, so far I think it’s been pretty smooth.”

Webb is currently listed on the Vikings depth chart as the No. 2 right tackle behind Phil Loadholt. Minnesota does not list a second-string left tackle behind starter Matt Kalil, but Frazier said Webb has the necessary experience to fill that void if called upon.

“We’re hoping at this point he’ll be a solid backup tackle for us at right or left,” Frazier said. “If we were to have a situation where he had to play, his experience should help him and help us. So that is what we are counting on. If he gets a better grasp of our system and what we are asking of our tackles, then he’ll be a solid backup guy who can really fill in and help us if we get in that situation.”
Quarterback Jay Cutler wished his former teammate J'Marcus Webb “the best of luck” on his career Monday during the “Jay Cutler Show” on ESPN 1000.

With the Chicago Bears set to host Webb’s new team, the Minnesota Vikings, on Sunday at Soldier Field, Cutler hopes to see the former Bears offensive tackle put things together physically and mentally so he can experience some longevity over the course of his career.

“I wish him the best of luck,” Cutler said. “He’s got a lot of talent. He’s a good guy, good kid. Hopefully, he can get it figured out and stick around for a while. It would be a waste of his ability if he didn’t.”

The Bears released Webb on Aug. 30, with the Vikings claiming him off waivers to back up starters Matt Kalil and Phil Loadholt. Webb had started in 44 games over three seasons, including 32 in a row, but was often criticized for what was perceived to be a lack of effort, despite his immense physical talent.

Cutler brought some of the criticism of Webb to the forefront last September at Green Bay, when he bumped the offensive tackle in an effort to motivate him during a 23-10 loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field.

A source with knowledge of Webb’s abilities and work ethic called him “an underachiever” who is “not motivated to be great.” The source added that Webb possesses “good ability,” sufficient enough to “be a solid starter in this league,” but the former Bears offensive tackle “lacks passion.”

Bears general manager Phil Emery recently outlined some of the team’s reasoning behind parting ways with Webb.

“Really, for J’Marcus, he had played, I will say that 14 out of the 16 games last year he was sufficient or better. He had a lot of good games in that we grade sufficient, good, very good. Fourteen out of those 16, they were at least at the sufficient level, which you can win with that player and his performance on that particular day. Two of them were below that line. The obvious games were the first Green Bay game and the San Francisco game,” Emery explained. “Coming into this fall, we were very optimistic that he was going to be our starting right tackle and would continue to improve as a player. He never gained the consistency, that sufficient level of consistency that we want out of our players. So at the end, his performance wasn’t to our expectation level that we felt we needed to move forward with it.”

Emery explains factors in Webb's release

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- During a wide-ranging news conference lasting more than 30 minutes on Monday, Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery touched on some of the factors that led to the release of former starting right tackle J'Marcus Webb.

From the sounds of it, the Bears wanted Webb to win the job more than he wanted to seize it.

Webb
“Really, for J’Marcus, he had played, I will say that 14 out of the 16 games last year he was sufficient or better. He had a lot of good games in that we grade sufficient, good, very good. Fourteen out of those 16, they were at least at the sufficient level, which you can win with that player and his performance on that particular day. Two of them were below that line. The obvious games were the first Green Bay game and the San Francisco game,” Emery explained. “Coming into this fall, we were very optimistic that he was going to be our starting right tackle and would continue to improve as a player. He never gained the consistency, that sufficient level of consistency that we want out of our players. So at the end, his performance wasn’t to our expectation level that we felt we needed to move forward with it.”

When the Bears made the decision to cut Webb, I touched on the offensive tackle’s lack of motivation and inconsistency, which goes all the way back to his college days. One former Bears coach described Webb as the classic underachiever.

“He’s not motivated to be great,” the coach said. “He’s got good ability, enough to be a solid starter in the league. But he lacks passion.”

That’s now an issue for the Minnesota Vikings to deal with, as they claimed him off waivers to provide depth.

Emery didn’t anticipate Webb giving away many of Chicago’s secrets on offense.

“I don’t know if we’ve gotten that far in our game planning for J’Marcus to be able to share those,” Emery said. “I’m sure he’ll share some basics, just like what is natural. We’ll always ask the basics.”

Chicago Bears cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
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Most significant move: Despite J'Marcus Webb making 44 starts in 46 career games, including 32 consecutive starts at left tackle over the last two years, the Bears made the decision to part ways with him, even after reducing his salary to the league minimum for a veteran with three years of tenure.

Webb entered the offseason as the starter at right tackle, and stayed in that spot through the early part of training camp. Then, after the preseason opener at Carolina, the club demoted Webb to the second team behind rookie fifth-round pick Jordan Mills.

The demotion put Webb in competition for a backup role with veterans Jonathan Scott and Eben Britton. A five-year veteran, Britton has 30 games of starting experience on his résumé, but also possesses more versatility than Webb because of his ability to kick inside to guard and center. Scott hasn’t played all preseason, and recently underwent a procedure on his knee. But the team is confident that even a dinged-up Scott is more reliable than a fully healthy Webb.

Webb possesses the physical skillset to be a starter in the NFL for several years, but lacks motivation and passion, which is a no-no for general manager Phil Emery and the new coaching regime. The new staff worked diligently to coax out the best in Webb, but couldn’t do it consistently enough for the team to feel confident in the three-year veteran, even as a backup.

Good outing, bad result: Quarterback Jordan Palmer performed well in the preseason finale against Cleveland despite little preparation after signing as an injury replacement for Matt Blanchard. But a 64.7 completion percent and a passer rating of 102.8 with a touchdown pass in his preseason debut wasn’t good enough to keep the Bears from cutting Palmer.

A big part of that was the team’s reported desire to sign a third quarterback with practice-squad eligibility. Palmer doesn’t have any practice-squad eligibility remaining.

What’s next: With the 53-man roster finalized, the Bears will start to build their practice squad. If the club wants to bring back some of the players it cut, it will have to wait until they clear waivers. The Bears will likely be looking to add a few players cut from other teams to their practice squad, too.

Bears cuts: QB: Trent Edwards, Jordan Palmer. RB: Armando Allen. OG: Dennis Temple, Edwin Williams. LB:Jerry Franklin, J.T. Thomas. WR: Brittan Golden, Terrence Toliver, Josh Lenz. OT:J'Marcus Webb, Cory Brandon. DT:Corvey Irvin, Christian Tupou. S:Tom Nelson, Brandon Hardin. LS: Brandon Hartson. CB: Demontre Hurst. TE:Fendi Onobun. FB: Harvey Unga. DE: Aston Whiteside, Josh Williams.

Note: Brandon and Irvin received injury settlements. Hardin was waived/injured, which means if he clears waivers, he’ll revert to Chicago’s injured reserve.

Enigmatic J'Marcus Webb says goodbye

August, 30, 2013
8/30/13
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A couple of years ago, a now high-ranking talent evaluator took multiple scouting trips to see offensive tackle J'Marcus Webb, only to find him unavailable every time.

He’s got this, the evaluator was told, or he’s out doing that.

Naturally, the scout started digging.

Webb
Upon intensive vetting of Webb on two college campuses, the scout came away with two thoughts: 1) Because of Webb’s immense talent, people always made excuses for him, and 2) despite all of that talent, Webb lacked the motivation to consistently deliver the focus and intensity that teams depend on.

Perhaps that was foreshadowing for Friday, when Webb, who played at West Texas A&M, said on his Twitter account that the Bears had released him. His three-year stint was marked by up-and-down performances in 32 consecutive starts at left tackle. One day, Webb made you think he could be the club’s future at left tackle. The next, an angry Jay Cutler was in his face doing whatever he could to motivate Webb, who smiled last season in the midst of a trouncing at Lambeau Field.

With a new general manager in Phil Emery -- who didn't draft Webb and had no vested interest in him -- and a new coach in Marc Trestman, it quickly became apparent Webb wouldn’t last. His marijuana arrest in February -- although charges were dropped -- didn't help, either.

After the first part of camp and the preseason opener at Carolina, a game in which Webb gave up a sack to Charles Johnson from his spot at right tackle, he had basically punched his own ticket out of town, although it seemed the staff wanted to give him another opportunity to catch on as a reserve.

When the Bears returned to camp, Trestman demoted Webb to second team in favor of rookie fifth-round pick Jordan Mills.

“He’s had good days, and not so good days,” Trestman said of Webb after the Panthers game. “He hasn’t been as consistent as we’d like. We’ve told him that. When he’s on his game, he can be very good.”

The problem is nobody knows how to keep Webb on his game. After demoting Webb, the team cut his pay to the veteran minimum for a player with his tenure.

Apparently that wasn't motivational, either.

Make no mistake: Webb, 25, still possesses immense physical skills, gifts that are more than sufficient for him to be an NFL starter for years to come.

But it’s all of little consequence if nobody can coax them out consistently. The Bears finally realized this, and acted accordingly.

Bears begin to trim roster to 53

August, 30, 2013
8/30/13
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Here is a list of the Chicago Bears’ confirmed cuts as of Friday afternoon:

OT J’Marcus Webb
QB Jordan Palmer
S Brandon Hardin
S Tom Nelson
OL Edwin Williams
WR Josh Lenz
LB Jerry Franklin
WR Brittan Golden
LS Brandon Hartson
QB Trent Edwards
OL Derek Dennis
RB Armando Allen
TE Fendi Onobun
DE Josh Williams
DE Aston Whiteside
FB Harvey Unga
DT Christian Tupou
CB Demontre Hurst

**According to a source, Hardin suffered a fractured scapula versus the Cleveland Browns Thursday night and will be technically listed as waived/injured. If Hardin passes through waivers unclaimed, he will revert back to the Bears' injured reserve.

**Offensive tackle Cory Brandon was carted off the field last night with a serious left leg injury that reportedly will require surgery. Brandon and Hardin's names did not appear on the official list of Bears'cuts the team distributed around 2:20 Friday afternoon, but neither will be on the Week 1 53-man roster.

BE: Cuts expected to come a day early

August, 30, 2013
8/30/13
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CHICAGO -- The scene in the locker room minutes after the Bears concluded the preseason finale against Cleveland included several handshakes, pats on the back and man hugs saying goodbye.

Apparently the Bears don’t plan to waste time in cutting the 22 players needed to get down to the mandatory 53-man roster limit before Saturday’s 3 p.m. CST deadline.

“We’ll be at it bright and early tomorrow,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “(General manager) Phil (Emery) and I will sit down early in the morning, (and make decisions) based on the information we gathered from the tape and from the other coaches. It will be a collective process to make those decisions that work out to be the final 53.”

Several players made strong cases during Thursday night’s 18-16 loss to the Cleveland Browns. Others only reinforced decisions the club had already planned on making. Trestman mentioned that he didn’t think “anyone played themselves out of the roster tonight,” but the truth is quite a few didn’t exactly play themselves onto it, either. Over the next several hours, there’s a good chance the team will start bringing players into Halas Hall to begin cuts.

Here’s a sampling of what some of the on-the-bubble players had to say in pleading their respective cases.

RB Armando Allen: “To me, the reality is you don’t have control over the decision being made. So for me, it’s just I’ve just got to stay positive and keep my mind focused and in the right mindset for whatever comes next. Did I feel like I did enough? I’m probably one of my biggest critics. I feel like there’s a lot of things that I could have done better. If I was pitching myself, for me, it’s just simple. I come to work hard every day; great individual. I know the plays, (and) I’m a great special teams player. So, that’s about all I can say. My work speaks for itself.”

RB Michael Ford: “You can’t get into the coaches' head. You’ve got to let the coaches coach and do what they do. The only thing we can go out there and do is play and play hard. I gave it my all. I went into practice and gave it my all, and went into the games and gave it my all. I really can’t worry about it. When you give it your all and did everything you could, you can’t worry about it, because you know you gave 100 percent at what you did.”

WR Joe Anderson: “I’ve always felt confident. I believe in myself regardless of who else does. When you believe in yourself, you win. I believe in me. If you ask me, I believe I made this team. But you never know what someone else is thinking. So I just come to work every day and do my job. I control what I can control, (and) that’s what I do on the field. So upstairs, that’s their job. I’m gonna let them do their job, and I’ll do my job.”

OL Eben Britton: “I feel good about it. I feel really good about it. Yeah, I feel like (I made this team). I’m not the type of guy to beat my chest too much, but I was really proud of myself just about how I approached the whole camp, and what I got out of it. I feel the best I’ve felt in years. It was a great training camp for me, and I feel really good about the future. Now, I feel like I do things without even thinking about it anymore. It’s just starting to become natural because that’s what (offensive coordinator Aaron) Kromer has taught us every day. Even since back in April, I just kept working on the techniques we were taught in the run game and the pass game, stayed focused, and I just feel really good about how far I’ve come since getting here.”
  • Considering the limited prep time given recently signed quarterbacks Jordan Palmer and Trent Edwards, the duo performed fairly well against Cleveland, especially Palmer. He completed 11 of 17 for 11 yards and a touchdown to finish with a passer rating of 102.8.“I’ve prepared for this game as much as I’ve ever prepared for a game,” Palmer said. “It was a lot of fun to go out there, and I feel like we moved the ball and did some good things.”Trestman has said his preference is to keep three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. So if that holds true over the next two days, ESPNChicago.com colleague Jeff Dickerson says it would be hard to imagine the Bears cutting ties with Palmer.
  • Rookie cornerback Demontre Hurst didn’t hurt his cause, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Hurst probably didn’t help it much, either. Last year, former seventh-round pick Greg McCoy ran back an interception for a touchdown in the preseason finale at Cleveland, but still wound up among the final cuts. But to Hurst’s credit, his preseason was better than McCoy’s in 2012. In addition to the interception, Hurst posted five tackles in addition to forcing Brian Hoyer into an intentional grounding penalty.
  • Brad Biggs says the Bears are interested in quarterbacks who have practice squad eligibility remaining, and one of them is former Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers, the younger brother of Green Bay signal caller Aaron Rodgers.
  • Inconsistency has been the story of training camp for tight end Fendi Onobun. The Bears have a difficult decision to make here, and it will likely take place Friday.Trestman explained that “when the light switch goes on” for Onobun, “he’s got a chance to be a very good player. We have some tough decisions to make, and certainly Fendi is going to be in the mix when we make these decisions because of what he showed tonight again, and what he’s shown in practice.”What I saw was merely another up-and-down performance.
  • Here's my take on J'Marcus Webb from Thursday night's game. Not good, not bad, just mediocre, which likely won't be good enough for him to make this team. Obviously, everyone wanted to speak with Webb after the game. But once officials opened the locker room, Webb was already gone, his locker cleaned out.

Webb mediocre, Onobun struggles

August, 29, 2013
8/29/13
11:10
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CHICAGO -- J'Marcus Webb's fortunes seemingly turned as quickly as the defensive ends in recent years rounding the corner past him for sacks.

Having started 32 consecutive games at left tackle, Webb entered training camp as the first-team right tackle. In a matter of days, though, Webb could be among the team’s cuts as it whittles down to 53 players.

After taking a demotion and a pay cut recently, Webb was among the bottom-of-the-roster types featured Thursday night in Chicago’s 18-16 loss to the Browns, struggling in a last gasp to make the team. With the starters sitting to prevent injury, Webb started at right tackle, and played every snap.

His performance seemed underwhelming. Officials called Webb for false start on third and 6 in the opening quarter. That moved the Bears from the Cleveland 33 to the 38, and after a failed third-down conversion, Robbie Gould kicked a 52-yard field goal.

Webb later gave up a pressure when he and right guard Derek Dennis were bull-rushed into Jordan Palmer.

The performance wasn’t all bad, but it likely didn’t convince the Bears to keep Webb.

Here’s a look at a couple other performances by on-the-bubble players battling for some of the final roster spots:

TE Fendi Onobun: After a training camp filled with drops and inconsistency, Onobun seemed poised for a rebound. Onobun caught the first pass thrown his way, but was later called for holding with eight minutes left in the second quarter. Onobun caught a 4-yarder the very next play. But in the second quarter, he dropped a slightly underthrown ball from Palmer. In the third quarter, a catchable Trent Edwards pass skipped off Onobun’s hands, resulting in an interception by James-Michael Johnson. Onobun did pull in a 20-yard reception in the third quarter. But the negatives outweighed the positives. It would be a surprise if Onobun makes the roster.

Allen vs. Ford: In this battle of the running backs, Michael Ford, an undrafted rookie out of LSU, seemed to emerge the victor. Ford ran for 48 yards on nine attempts, while Armando Allen, his main competition for the No. 3 running back job, gained 39 yards on 10 attempts. Allen was at a disadvantage coming into Thursday because he had missed time due to a hamstring injury.

S Brandon Hardin: Perhaps the long layoff was too much to overcome. Going into last season, Hardin hadn’t played in a football game since 2010. Then, last preseason, he suffered a neck injury on Aug. 26 that landed him on the injured reserve.

Hardin played the entire game Thursday, and didn’t make enough plays to turn heads. Hardin also gave up a 14-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Rapid Reaction: Browns 18, Bears 16

August, 29, 2013
8/29/13
11:05
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CHICAGO -- Here are a few quick thoughts from the Chicago Bears18-16 loss Thursday night to the Cleveland Browns in the exhibition finale:

What it means: It’s finally time for real football. The Bears showed gradual improvement over three games before sitting the starters for the finale. Now it’s time to cut down to the final 53-man roster, a process that begins Friday morning.

Palmer shines: Recently signed quarterback Jordan Palmer put together a sharp performance despite just one week of practice. Signed to replace Matt Blanchard, Palmer connected on 11 of 17 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown to finish with a passer rating of 102.8.

“It says a lot about his preparation,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “He has learned a lot of offense and spent a lot of time on his own trying to assimilate all of it. I’m happy for him. He came out and played very efficiently.”

If the Bears keep three quarterbacks, Palmer likely makes the team.

Rookie starters on right side? Every uninjured starter suited up, but the distribution of repetitions may have told the story. Trestman refrained last week from naming rookies Kyle Long and Jordan Mills starters. But the fact they didn’t play against the Browns means the Bears wanted to eliminate the prospect of injury, which likely means they’re the starters for the Sept. 8 opener.

Long made his first preseason start on Aug. 15, as did Mills. The rookies started again in the third preseason game, which is typically the team’s most important game in assessing personnel.

With Long and Mills and the other starters, the Bears likely will keep three reserve linemen for a total of eight. Perhaps it’s telling that James Brown didn’t play, nor did Eben Britton (until Corey Brandon was carted off with 2:13 left to play), while former starting right tackle J’Marcus Webb started.

Based on what took place, it’s likely the Bears keep the starting five along with Brown, Britton and Jonathan Scott -- who missed the game recovering from a knee procedure -- as the three reserves.

Anderson reappears: After catching two passes for 27 yards in the preseason opener against Carolina, receiver Joe Anderson disappeared, going without a catch in the next two games.

But against the Browns, Anderson caught four passes for 64 yards, in addition to hauling in a 5-yard touchdown from Palmer in the second quarter.

What’s next: The Bears need to cut to the final 53-man roster by 5 p.m. CT on Saturday, and any players they want to add to the practice squad will need to clear waivers. After taking off the weekend, the Bears will return to Halas Hall on Monday to prepare for the opener against Cincinnati.

Bears' offensive starters vs. Cleveland

August, 29, 2013
8/29/13
8:26
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CHICAGO – Offensive starters for the Chicago Bears in tonight’s preseason finale against the Cleveland Browns:

WR – Joe Anderson
LT – Cory Brandon
LG – Edwin Williams
C – Taylor Boggs
RG – Derek Dennis
RT – J’Marcus Webb
TE – Kyle Adams
HB - Fendi Onobun
WR – Terrence Toliver
QB – Jordan Palmer
RB – Armando Allen

Bears roster battles to watch vs. Browns

August, 29, 2013
8/29/13
11:38
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Here are three positional battles to monitor heading into the Chicago Bears’ preseason finale versus the Cleveland Browns:

1. Running back: Undrafted rookie Michael Ford is making a strong push to grab one of the final spots on the 53-man roster after returning a kickoff 100 yards in the second preseason game against San Diego, then following up that performance with 58 rushing yards and a touchdown on nine carries last week in Oakland. If the Bears decide to keep just three tailbacks, it means either Ford or veteran Armando Allen has to go. Allen played well last season for the Bears, appearing in 15 games and recording seven special-teams tackles. But Allen has been working his way back from an injury the past couple weeks, which has opened the door for the less expensive rookie out of LSU to showcase himself in these preseason games. Both figure to receive ample playing time tonight at Soldier Field.

2. Quarterback: The Bears’ offense is entirely in the hands of veteran quarterbacks Jordan Palmer and Trent Edwards after Bears head coach Marc Trestman announced last week that starter Jay Cutler and No. 2 Josh McCown would not see the field in the final preseason contest. If the Bears open the season with three quarterbacks, and that is still an if, the final spot could be determined by which of the two reserves has a better game against the Browns, plus what each accomplished on the practice field the past two weeks. The Bears got a brief look at just Palmer last week in the fourth quarter (1-for-1, five yards), but both quarterbacks will get an extended look tonight. Even if the Bears decide to go with just two quarterbacks to start the year, the team might still find themselves in need of another QB later in the season -- that’s why this is still an important game for Palmer and Edwards, regardless.

3. Offensive line: If the Bears retain eight offensive linemen, as offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer hinted earlier in training camp, then two spots might still be available. That means Jonathan Scott, Eben Britton, J’Marcus Webb and Taylor Boggs are probably the guys still alive to make the team, although sometimes these calls are already made before the final preseason game. Scott has actually pulled off the rare feat of improving his position on the team despite missing the past several weeks with a knee injury that required a procedure to clean it out. That’s because Webb has continued to struggle ever since being demoted to second-team left tackle. Webb is a mystery. He has all the physical gifts, but his inconsistency coupled with his strange behavior and apparent lack of passion toward the game, makes him a strong candidate to get cut. If Scott’s knee is OK for Week 1, then it might make sense to just keep him and Britton, try and sneak Boggs on the practice squad, and send Webb on his merry way. But if Webb wants to make one final stand, he better make the most his opportunities tonight.

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