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Cutting down to 53: Bears on the bubble

CLEVELAND OH - AUGUST 28:  David Fales #12 Chicago Bears makes pass as Barkevious Mingo #51 ClevelBrowns rushes during

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 28: David Fales #12 of the Chicago Bears makes a pass as Barkevious Mingo #51 of the Cleveland Browns rushes during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 501605247

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Updated: September 30, 2014 6:33AM

CLEVELAND — Don’t suggest to coach Marc Trestman that the Bears’ last exhibition game Thursday against the Browns was a perfunctory show that should be shrugged off.

He won’t buy it.

“I don’t think there’s ever such a thing as a meaningless game,” Trestman said. “There’s guys that we’re going to evaluate off of this game that really have a chance to make our team.

“And it’s more than one in my opinion.”

That said, here’s our best guess at the Bears’ 53-man roster for Week 1:

Quarterbacks: 3

Prediction: Jay Cutler, Jimmy Clausen, David Fales.

Not putting Fales, a draft pick, on the practice squad — who wouldn’t want a pupil from the Trestman school? — might be the prudent move. Fales showed poise in Cleveland.

Running backs: 4

Prediction: Matt Forte, Tony Fiammetta, Ka’Deem Carey, Senorise Perry.

Carey was inactive after a heavy workload in the first three exhibitions earned him the backup job behind Forte. Perry is the surprise here, going from an undrafted tryout player to a special-teams contributor. Perry was the first kick returner against the Browns.

Wide receivers: 6

Prediction: Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Josh Morgan, Micheal Spurlock, Chris Williams, Santonio Holmes.

Where’s Marquess Wilson? The Bears have been quiet about him since he underwent surgery for a broken collarbone Aug. 5. Here’s thinking the Bears’ flurry of minor injuries forces them to put Wilson on injured reserve with a return destination. The rules say Wilson can’t come back until Nov. 9 against the Packers, but he’ll have time to recover, and the Bears get a roster spot to use. Spurlock appears to have the lead at kick returner. Holmes had a nice 32-yard touchdown catch and a 30-yard punt return in the first half.

Tight ends: 3

Prediction: Martellus Bennett, Dante Rosario, Matthew Mulligan.

Zach Miller’s injury has opened the door for Mulligan, who is less of a receiver but a better blocker. Trestman recently praised Mulligan, calling him “a good add by Phil [Emery] and his personnel department.”

Offensive line: 8

Prediction: Jermon Bushrod, Matt Slauson, Roberto Garza, Kyle Long, Jordan Mills, Michael Ola, Brian de la Puente, Eben Britton.

Ola played himself onto the roster with Mills out with a nagging sore foot this preseason. The Bears know what they have in Britton and de la Puente, but their injuries have complicated evaluations. “Very much so,” offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said. “There are some guys that have played well, and we have to make tough decisions on what we see.”

Defensive line: 10

Prediction: Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young, Jeremiah Ratliff, Stephen Paea, Ego Ferguson, Will Sutton, Trevor Scott, Cornelius Washington, David Bass.

The defensive line is starting to look like a real strength. Scott appears safe after sitting out the preseason finale, while Washington’s special-teams work gives him an edge over Austen Lane. Bass sacked and stripped Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Linebackers: 6

Prediction: Lance Briggs, D.J. Williams, Jon Bostic, Shea McClellin, Khaseem Greene, Jerry Franklin.

Everyone but Franklin was a lock from the beginning. Franklin has earned recognition from coordinator Joe DeCamillis on special teams. Greene has been the top reserve since offseason training. Williams, Bostic and McClellin each have roles this season.

Cornerbacks: 6

Prediction: Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings, Kyle Fuller, Sherrick McManis, Kelvin Hayden, Demontre Hurst.

McManis has been the Bears’ best special-teamer and also has made plays at cornerback. DeCamillis has highlighted Hurst’s value on special teams. Hurst also is an option at nickel back.

Safeties: 4

Prediction: Ryan Mundy, Chris Conte, Danny McCray, Brock Vereen.

The Week 1 starters might be Mundy and McCray, but Conte, if healthy, will make a push. McCray will be an important special-teamer.

Specialists: 3

Prediction: Robbie Gould, Brandon Hartson, Pat O’Donnell.

Hartson and O’Donnell won their competitions weeks ago. Finding consistency and confidence are next.


Twitter: @adamjahns

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