CLEVELAND — The Bears and their Week One opponent, the Bills, took different approaches to the final preseason game Thursday.
In Cleveland, a whopping 40 Bears didn't play, including starters on both sides of the ball, some backups many thought were on the roster bubble and a few injured players. The Browns only kept six players on the sideline
In Buffalo, the Bills opened with their first team on both offense and defense in a 23-0 loss. Rookie sensation Sammy Watkins left with a rib injury and former Bear Jordan Palmer struggled, throwing three interceptions. They kept 14 players out of the lineup.
The Bears took the same approach to last year’s preseason game, when 38 players did not play, and although the defense and special teams have struggled this preseason, the team felt comfortable with its evaluation of most of the roster and did not want to risk injury.
The interesting thing for the Bears' staff is having to evaluate essentially third-team players against Browns starters in the first quarter, but Marc Trestman focused on the opportunity it allows for young players trying to get noticed.
"I don’t know that it’s tough. I think it was a great opportunity for our guys to play against ones and to put effort, fundamentals and technique on tape," he said following a 33-13 loss to the Browns. "I’m excited to take a look at it. It seemed reasonably competitive in the first quarter on both sides. I think it was a good opportunity for guys to match up against the talent that they had."
Rookie QB gets chance: David Fales completed 11 of 17 passes for 129 yards and the touchdown to Holmes in the first half, solid stats, but he was pressured often by the Browns’ first-team defense and took a 13-yard sack. He did throw a pick in the second half and had a passer rating of 69.1.
"David showed a lot of composure. He got knocked around tonight, no doubt about it," Trestman said. "He made some throws on the run, he made some plays out of the pocket, he threw a pick – I’m not sure why, we’ll look at the tape. Overall, he handled himself well for the 60 minutes that he played."
Fales will have to wait to see if the Bears expose him to waivers, and then add him to the practice squad if he clears, or if they go ahead and keep him on the 53-man roster.
"I thought I did a pretty good job, personally," he said. "I also think that we all worked pretty well together with all of the guys we had out there."
Bass finishes strong: David Bass knows the importance of the preseason – he played well for the Raiders last year, got noticed by the Bears' personnel staff, and ultimately was claimed off waivers. He entered Thursday night on the bubble, along with fellow defensive ends Austen Lane and Cornelius Washington, and the three rotated throughout the night. Bass led the group with six tackles, including a sack. Another sack that he may have shared with Lane was negated by a penalty. Bass also showed some versatility by sliding inside on a play to play three-technique.
"I just tried to go out there and play my game," he said. "When I talked to my family and friends, I said, 'No matter what happens, I'm going to go out there, play the best I can and put it in God's hands.' Whatever happens, happens, and I'm just going to take it and run with it."
Big plays: Josh Bellamy put on a show in the first half, catching all four passes thrown his way for 78 yards, including an impressive 32-yard leaping catch over Browns veteran corner Leon McFadden. He could be an option for the practice squad. … Marcus Trice put a big, legal hit on Browns receiver Charles Johnson on an incomplete pass. … Demontre Hurst knocked down a quick slant in the red zone in the first quarter.
Quick hits: S Chris Conte, who suffered a concussion in Seattle last week, was present at the game and did some individual work before the game, which is a good sign. Trestman said he has not yet been cleared, though. … OT Jordan Mills did not play, even though he returned to practice last week. While no starters played, Mills will enter Week One without playing a preseason snap because of a foot injury. … TE Dante Rosario, OT Michael Ola and S Brock Vereen suited up in case of injury but did not play. LB Khaseem Greene played only on special teams.