Rapid Reaction: Browns 18, Bears 16

August, 29, 2013
8/29/13
11:16
PM ET
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.

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter

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