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Hub Arkush: Game 4 matters to some

Chicago Bears' Fendi Onobun (84) drops a pass in the end zone as Carolina Panthers' Jason Williams (54) and D.J. Campbell (26) defend during the first half of a preseason NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Aug. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone) (Bob Leverone)

I was going to start by asking how you'd feel about paying full price for a game in which almost none of the starters will play, and 40 percent of the guys who do play will then be fired within 42 hours of the final gun?

But hey, it's been such a promising and positive preseason so far, why go negative now? Definitely a worthwhile topic for another time though.

Let's keep the focus for now on the fact that the Bears exhibition game vs. the Browns more than matters to quite a few guys in their lockerroom. To quote backup tight end Fendi Onobun, "We're fighting for our lives."

As near as I can tell, the Bears have two quarterbacks, two running backs, four wide receivers, two tight ends, seven offensive linemen, six defensive linemen, five linebackers, seven defensive backs, Robbie Gould, Adam Podlesh, Devin Hester and Pat Mannelly who've almost certainly made the team.

Who I believe they are really isn't that important, but just for kicks and giggles I'll list them in my 3-Point Stance and you can test me.

The point is, that leaves 14 roster spots to be won by the 36 guys still on the roster who will play against the Browns and don't appear to have a job sewn up.

So while Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Roberto Garza, Julius Peppers, Lance Briggs, Peanut Tillman and all the other cool guys who don't have to play against the Browns are sipping pina coladas on the sideline and checking out the action in the stands, we'll have all the drama we could possibly want, a real live survivor game playing out on the surprisingly still green grass of Soldier Field.

Maybe it is worth the price of admission?

My gut tells me Jordan Palmer and Trent Edwards will both be gone Saturday. It just makes too much sense for the Bears to pick up a younger prospect they can teach the system to on the practice squad as long as Cutler and McCown are both healthy. They were the last two kids invited to the dance and one of them will have to really light it up to win a job.

Michael Ford has probably won the No. 3 running back job over Armando Allen, unless this Bears staff believes you can't lose a job due to injury? If they do and if Allen is 100 percent, I'd look for both of these kids to treat every touch they get as if it's the last play of the Super Bowl.

It's not clear to me if Tony Fiammetta, Kyle Adams and Fendi Onobun are fighting for one job or two, or if the fullback and H-back are different or interchangeable in this offense. Either way, I expect two of the three make it, one by being the best blocker against the Browns and the other the best receiver.

Wide receiver is the X-factor on the Bears' final roster count. Assuming Eric Weems is one of them, it wouldn't be shocking to see them keep five, six or seven, but it will only be six or seven if Joe Anderson and at least one of the other youngsters play like the most interesting men in the world against the Browns.

It seems the competition may already be over on the offensive and defensive lines and Marc Trestman and Phil Emery just have to see who's healthy Saturday, and who will be soon, to make their final decisions. It would be crazy if Kyle Long and Jordan Mills didn't get some work against Cleveland but they will both be starting in Week 1.

The only two who could impact their futures with stellar play against the Browns are J'Marcus Webb and Zach Minter.

I suspect the linebacker decisions have already been made as well, but the secondary play against Cleveland will be fascinating to watch. There are eight defensive backs still on the roster besides the four starters and Isaiah Frey and any combination of three, four or five of them could still make the team.

• Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media and HubArkush.com. Write to him at harkush@shawmedia.com.

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