Most starters will be enjoying some much-needed rest in preparation for Week 1 of the regular season when the Chicago Bears travel east to play the Cleveland Browns in Week 4 of the preseason. Fans won’t be too excited without guys like Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall on the field, but players trying to make the 53-man roster should be as pumped up as ever. This will be the biggest game of some of their careers.
For Bears fans, this will be their first chance to get a prolonged look at rookie quarterback David Fales. The Bears’ sixth-round pick will play the entire game on Thursday night and could make his way onto the 53-man roster if he plays well. If his performance is subpar, he will likely be waived and end up on Chicago’s practice squad.
Another rookie trying to make his way onto a roster will be Northern Illinois superstar Jordan Lynch. The former Heisman Trophy finalist will play offense and special teams in the Bears’ final preseason game. While his contributions at running back will never be significant, Lynch could help what has been a struggling Bears special teams.
Another former college football star quarterback has something to prove as well, but he will be under center for the Browns. Johnny Manziel will get most of the snaps against the Bears, but starter Brian Hoyer will play most of the first quarter.
Both teams have wide receivers fighting to make the roster. Veterans Santonio Holmes and Nate Burleson will have to be productive for the Bears and Browns, respectively, if they are to make the regular season roster. Both have had limited action throughout the preseason, but both teams are hoping there is some gas left in the tank.
The Browns’ offense is causing fans and coaches headaches, but the defense should continue their development in 2014. Star cornerbacks Joe Haden, Buster Skrine and Justin Gilbert have their jobs locked in, but some quality players are still fighting for a spot. Rookie Pierre Desir will probably make the 53-man, which leaves Aaron Berry, Leon McFadden, Isaiah Trufant and K’Waun Williams all battling for the final spot. McFadden’s strong performance last week has him as the favorite. The other three have their work cut out for them against Chicago.
You may not see Cutler, Marshall, Haden or Gilbert on Thursday night, but what you will see are hungry players fighting for their livelihoods and a couple of former college stars fighting to make a name for themselves in the NFL.
Andrew Pappas is a Chicago Bears writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewPappas24.