Final preseason game could be crucial for Bears on the bubble
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter August 28, 2013 8:24PM
Updated: September 30, 2013 2:03PM
An undrafted rookie from Division II West Texas A&M in Canyon, Texas a year ago, wide receiver Brittan Golden was living a dream at Bears training camp. And the dream died hard.
One moment he was scoring a touchdown off a blocked punt in the preseason finale against the Cleveland Browns — one step from playing in the NFL and making $23,000 a week on the 53-man roster or $5,700 a week on the practice squad. The next moment he was washing cars and doing oil changes for minimum wage in Amarillo, Texas.
‘‘It was very tough ... extremely humbling,’’ Golden said. ‘‘I would work out at 6 in the morning and be at work by 7:30 and get off at 7:30 or 8 at night. It was tough to make yourself get up for something like that.’’
That’s what might be on the line for the 30 or so players on the roster bubble Thursday when the Bears play the Browns at 7 p.m. at Soldier Field (Fox-32, 780-AM). The Bears will cut their roster from 75 to 53 on Friday. Some players who get cut will make the eight-man practice squad. Others might get signed by other teams. But for most of them, the drop from training camp to reality is a steep one.
Coach Marc Trestman said he will rest most if not all of his starters against the Browns, which will give every player on the bubble one last chance to make an impression. But the reality is that for some, the decision has already been made.
Running back Armando Allen had the kind of game every bubble player hopes for last season at Cleveland. He rushed for 83 yards on 16 carries (5.2 yards per carry), including a 49-yard run. He caught five passes for 51 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown pass. He even forced a fumble on special teams.
But even that wasn’t enough. Allen was cut and signed to the practice squad. When Lorenzo Booker, the player who beat him out, was put on injured reserve after suffering a concussion against the Browns, Allen was promoted to the 53-man roster and played in 15 games.
‘‘It’s a business and anything can happen,’’ Allen said. ‘‘I wasn’t mad or frustrated about it. More surprised than anything. But it worked in my favor.’’
An injury might work against Allen this time. He came into camp as the favorite for the No. 3 running back spot. But he missed two weeks with a hamstring injury and undrafted rookie Michael Ford has excelled in Allen’s absence.
Allen returned to practice this week and will get a chance to re-establish himself against the Browns.
‘‘I don’t think I have anything to be nervous about,’’ Allen said. ‘‘For me, it’s just getting back to the game of football. Every game is the same. You compete and show off your ability. There’s no nervousness on my part.’’
Despite so much being at stake, players on the bubble claim they don’t sweat out the final week as much as you would think they do.
‘‘I control what I can control,’’ wide receiver Joe Anderson said. ‘‘I can’t take care of business upstairs and be on the field at the same time. What I can control is what I do on that field. That’s my main objective — to keep doing what I’ve been doing. And don’t change anything up.’’
‘‘You never want to be that guy counting the roster — ‘This position might keep X.’ You never want to go that route,’’ safety Anthony Walters said. ‘‘Of course you think about the roster. But there are only so many things you can control and how you play is one of them.’’