The Bears emailed 14-year-old Miguel Reyes, from Elkhart, Ind., and let him know he would have two tickets and pregame field passes waiting for him.
"I'm really excited to go," Reyes told ESPN.com on Friday night.
Reyes invited his former teacher Peg Kelly, whom he refers to as Aunt Peg, to attend the game with him. Kelly is an avid Packers fan and the one who asked Reyes to give the tumor a name last year. Playing off the rivalry between the two, Reyes named the tumor Aaron Rodgers because Rodgers always beats the Bears and Reyes wants to win this time.
"He's ecstatic," said Reyes' mom, Christy Reyes. "The first thing he said is, 'My Aunt Peg and I are going to have so much fun down there watching the guys warm up.'"
With final cuts due by 4 p.m. ET Saturday, we asked our NFL Nation network of 32 reporters to rate the interest (low, medium, high) each of their teams would have in acquiring Griffin, who could be traded or released by the Redskins.
Dallas Cowboys: Low. I wanted to say medium because of the deferential way Jerry Jones spoke about Robert Griffin III after the Thanksgiving game in which the quarterback had four touchdown passes. The Cowboys like to take chances on former high-round picks and would have a chance at an ultimate bargain in Griffin. But the circus around his acquisition would be too much to take. -- Todd Archer
New York Giants: Medium. This actually makes more sense than you might think, though only if the Giants think he’s retrievable. Giants quarterback Eli Manning hasn’t missed a game in his entire career, which dates back to 2004, so the job of the Giants’ backup quarterback is basically to run the scout team. Griffin could be a valuable scout team quarterback due to his speed and athleticism and his ability to mimic different kinds of quarterbacks. And if the Giants see him as a guy they can still develop into something down the road, it could be worth considering. A bigger issue than Eli actually might be backup Ryan Nassib, whom they like, and the Giants’ preference not to carry three quarterbacks. -- Dan Graziano
Philadelphia Eagles: Medium. Normally, the answer would be "low” for a team that traded for Sam Bradford and signed Tim Tebow in the offseason. But we’re talking about Chip Kelly here, and visions of RG III running Kelly’s offense could prove irresistible. -- Phil Sheridan
Chicago Bears: Medium. Jay Cutler is in a make-or-break year, but offensive coordinator Adam Gase likes established pocket passers. Still, Chicago’s quarterback depth behind Cutler is suspect -- Jimmy Clausen, David Fales and Zac Dysert. Head coach John Fox once made the playoffs with Tim Tebow. Can’t rule it out. -- Jeff Dickerson
Detroit Lions: Low. The Lions have Matthew Stafford as the starter, and Griffin wouldn't get a chance to pass him. Lions coach Jim Caldwell has also done a good job of creating a drama-free locker room, and it would be surprising to see Detroit mess with that. -- Michael Rothstein
Green Bay Packers: Low. Even if the Packers didn’t have NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers and a healthy backup situation with Scott Tolzien and rookie Brett Hundley, RG III wouldn’t be a good fit in coach Mike McCarthy’s West Coast offense. He wants quarterbacks with precise footwork and throwing mechanics, not a freestyle runner. -- Rob Demovsky
Minnesota Vikings: Low. The Vikings drafted Teddy Bridgewater a year ago and believe he's their quarterback of the future. Unless RG III is interested in being a backup -- and he's probably not -- there's no spot for him in Minnesota. -- Ben Goessling
Atlanta Falcons: Low. Although the Falcons have been concerned about their backup situation behind Matt Ryan, I don’t see them pursuing Griffin. Remember, Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan had Griffin for two years in Washington, and Shanahan surely doesn’t want to go through the same “challenge” he had back then with tailoring the offense to Griffin and possibly dealing with injury concerns. -- Vaughn McClure
Carolina Panthers: Low. If there were a category below that, I’d use it. The Panthers signed Cam Newton to a five-year extension in June. He is their quarterback of the future. They also have Derek Anderson, who signed a two-year extension and could start for a third of the teams in the NFL. They also love third-stringer Joe Webb, who also can play all four phases of special teams. They wouldn’t take RG III if he were given to them. -- David Newton
New Orleans Saints: Low. Drew Brees won’t be around forever, but he’s entrenched as the starter for at least another couple of years. And they drafted QB Garrett Grayson in the third round as a developmental project. It’s not crazy to think they would consider kicking the tires on a young guy with so much potential. But Griffin doesn’t seem like the right fit when it comes to price tag, offensive style or the media circus that might come along with him. -- Mike Triplett
Arizona Cardinals: Low. There are many reasons the Cardinals’ interest in RG III would be low -- or even lower, if it’s possible. He’s not built like a Bruce Arians-style quarterback; the Cardinals have a backup Arians loves in Drew Stanton; and Griffin is too injury-prone -- and that’s the last thing the Cardinals need out of a quarterback. -- Josh Weinfuss
San Francisco 49ers: Low. Sure, RG III's skill set more closely resembles that of Colin Kaepernick's than backup Blaine Gabbert's does, and it would be intriguing to see Griffin and Kaepernick duel over who was the alpha dog in Santa Clara, but the Niners are all-in on Kaepernick. Plus, the Internet probably would break. Haven't the Niners suffered enough this year? -- Paul Gutierrez
Seattle Seahawks: Low. Russell Wilson is signed through the 2019 season, so there would be little upside in adding Griffin. Even if the Seahawks signed him and developed him, there would be no payoff in Seattle. The Seahawks are in win-now mode. Given that Griffin has struggled to stay healthy and would be learning a new scheme with the regular season approaching, adding him as a backup wouldn’t make sense. -- Sheil Kapadia
St. Louis Rams: Low. The Rams could've had Griffin in 2012 but traded the chance to acquire him to Washington for a boatload of draft picks. Now, they have Nick Foles entrenched as the starter after he signed a two-year contract extension. They also traded a seventh-round pick for Case Keenum to be the backup and drafted Sean Mannion in the third round this year. So finding a fit for RG III seems unlikely. -- Nick Wagoner
Buffalo Bills: Medium. I've learned to expect the unexpected with Rex Ryan, but acquiring RG III wouldn't make much sense. They couldn't have gotten better play this preseason from Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel, and Manuel looks to be the favorite to back up Taylor this season. -- Mike Rodak
Miami Dolphins: Low. The Dolphins got their quarterback decision correct in the same 2012 draft by picking Ryan Tannehill at No. 8. There is no reason for Miami to revisit three years ago and pick up Washington’s mistake. -- James Walker
New England Patriots: Low. Griffin doesn’t seem like a fit for their program or system. I think they’d be more inclined to look in the direction of Matt Cassel should the Bills decide to release him. -- Mike Reiss
New York Jets: Low. Maybe they’d consider it after the season. For now, they’re comfortable with starter Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith, who should be healthy and available after the fourth game. Rookie Bryce Petty will carry the clipboard for at least a year. -- Rich Cimini
Baltimore Ravens: Low. Joe Flacco is the unquestioned starter who has never missed a start, and backup Matt Schaub is guaranteed $2 million this year, so Baltimore is financially committed to him. The Ravens have carried only two quarterbacks the past six years. -- Jamison Hensley
Cincinnati Bengals: Low. Since signing him to a contract extension last August, the Bengals have continually said they believe Andy Dalton is their starting quarterback. They do not want to create a quarterback controversy, and any move bringing RG III to Cincinnati would do just that. Besides, AJ McCarron has emerged as a solid No. 2 this preseason. -- Coley Harvey
Cleveland Browns: Medium. The Browns made a run at RG III when he came out of college but were outbid by Washington. The team's uncertainty at quarterback remains, so I think they kick the tires on him -- with the thought that he can come in, learn, grow, get healthy, and play if and when he's ready. The Browns would not assume RG III's contract, though, so the real question becomes: Would he sign with the Browns as a free agent knowing Johnny Manziel is on the team? -- Pat McManamon
Pittsburgh Steelers: Low. Ben Roethlisberger is one of the league’s top five quarterbacks. Mike Vick is a serviceable backup. The Steelers are still giving their 2013 fourth-round pick, Landry Jones, a chance. This franchise is well-stocked at quarterback and simply has no room for the baggage RG III carries with him. -- Jeremy Fowler
Houston Texans: Low. At this point it would take the Texans too long to familiarize a quarterback with their system. Both veteran quarterbacks the Texans have brought in in the past 53 weeks have been players who have some experience with Bill O’Brien’s system. -- Tania Ganguli
Indianapolis Colts: Low. Can there be option for no chance at all? The Colts wisely selected Andrew Luck over RG III with the No. 1 pick in 2012. Luck is one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. RG III, well, he's lost these days. -- Mike Wells
Jacksonville Jaguars: Low. The Jaguars are excited about the development of second-year quarterback Blake Bortles, who has completed 65 percent of his passes and hasn’t thrown an interception in the preseason. They’re also happy with veteran Chad Henne as the backup, and Bortles really likes and respects Henne. RG III isn’t heading here. -- Michael DiRocco
Tennessee Titans: Low. The Titans are set at quarterback with two young guys they like at the head of the line in Marcus Mariota and Zach Mettenberger. They’d have zero interest in RG III. -- Paul Kuharsky
Denver Broncos: Low. The Broncos don’t have the salary-cap space to absorb Griffin’s contract. They also have Peyton Manning, who topped 4,700 yards last season to go with 39 touchdowns, as their starter. And they have two of their own draft picks behind Manning in Brock Osweiler (second round, 2012) and Trevor Siemian (seventh round, 2015). -- Jeff Legwold
Kansas City Chiefs: Low. The Chiefs don’t have room for RG III this year with Alex Smith, Chase Daniel and Aaron Murray. That’s not to say he wouldn’t make sense for the Chiefs down the road. Andy Reid rescued Mike Vick’s career and could do the same with RG III. -- Adam Teicher
San Diego Chargers: Low. Philip Rivers just inked a four-year, $83.25 million contract extension as the team’s long-term answer at quarterback. San Diego offensive coordinator Frank Reich leans toward more traditional dropback quarterbacks who can operate from within the pocket, so Griffin probably isn't a fit. -- Eric D. Williams
That sounds odd for player who just one year ago recorded a career-high 10 sacks, but Young did not experience your typical NFL offseason.
“I went from ground zero to back up and playing again,” Young said Thursday.
“However you want to grade me you can do that.”
Young’s recovery from a torn left Achilles tendon and subsequent switch to outside linebacker are well-documented. The next chapter in Young’s story will unfold in less than 48 hours when NFL teams reduce their rosters to 53.
Young started the Bears' preseason finale against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday and had a handful of tackles, but is that enough to continue his career in Chicago?
“It’s always fun when you can go out there and take snaps,” Young said. “It’s been a long road for me this year, but now I’m back up and running. I feel good right now where we are. Tomorrow I’m just going to take care of my body and hit the ice and cold tub. I’ll watch a little bit of film here and there and continue to move forward.”
No matter what happens, Bears head coach John Fox thinks Young acquitted himself admirably this preseason.
“He’s an explosive guy from what we saw on tape last year,” Fox said. “Just getting him back confident and how that [Achilles] feels to push off from and to explode off of is just a normal transition for any player coming off an injury. I’ve been pleased with what we’ve seen.”
Of course, it’s in the Bears' best interest to say Young is healthy -- teams do not trade for injured players -- but Young has truly made remarkable progress since camp begin.
The problem, however, lies within the numbers.
Young is due to make $2.45 million in 2015. That seems a tad high for a non-starter who has little value on special teams. Young received a $2 million signing bonus, so if the Bears release him, the club only carries approximately $1.383 million in dead cap space. Placing Young on the roster would count $3.166 million against the cap, barring a restructure.
Young proved over the past month he can still play the game.
But the reality of the situation is that he is likely better off playing in a different NFL city in 2015.
"Yeah I'm nervous," Jonathan Anderson, at right, said about the Bears' impending roster cuts. "But everything happens for a reason. I'm not going to be down. I'm just going to look at it as an opportunity to see what the future holds for me."
An NFL preseason locker room is crowded with unfamiliar faces and unknown stories.
The locker room was loud and reporters milled about, mostly talking to a few roster bubble guys. The veterans who didn't play were long gone. Their season begins next week, when the Green Bay Packers come to Soldier Field. No one is expecting much out of the Bears this year, so the fan excitement is muted, at best.
While those millionaire veterans carry Louis Vuitton and Gucci bags, Anderson, an undrafted rookie linebacker, had a 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl backpack at the foot of his locker.
A 2014 Texas Christian University graduate, Anderson is just an anonymous preseason roster filler, listed as one of the third inside linebackers on the depth chart. He wasn't a college star, and his NFL future is uncertain, to be nice.
But on Thursday night, he put up numbers and had himself a game during a 24-0 win over the Cleveland Browns. He was credited with two sacks for 20 yards, including a forced fumble on the Browns’ last possession of the second quarter. He added another tackle for a loss, collecting five tackles in all, which was tied for the team lead.
He was on the field when the game ended, which is never a good sign when trying to make the final 53-man roster.
But for one night, he was an NFL player, getting fist pounds from teammates and at least one interview from a reporter.
He laughed when I asked if his parents had texted him yet.
“No, I haven’t even checked,” he said. “I don’t even know if they watched the game, to be honest with you.”
After the game, he was headed back to his Vernon Hills hotel -- he couldn’t remember the name of it -- with the rest of the rookies to wait to see what happens in the next stage of his life.
Anderson will likely be cut as the Bears shave their roster from 75 to 53 in the coming days. Maybe he’ll be brought back for the practice squad. Maybe he will bounce around the league, find a fit somewhere, become a special-teams bully and live a life of luxury for a few years. Maybe he just goes back to Texas with some Bears gear.
“Yeah I’m nervous,” he said. “But everything happens for a reason. I’m not going to be down. I’m just going to look at it as an opportunity to see what the future holds for me.”
The most common reaction to watching a fourth preseason game is: Who are these guys? For guys like Anderson, this game was a chance to get some tape for tryouts. For some, it's maybe their last shot to realize a childhood dream.
“It was an opportunity for me to showcase what I can do,” he said. “So the people can see who Jonathan Anderson is and what this team is."
Who is Jonathan Anderson?
Anderson is an undrafted free agent who went to TCU as the No. 6-ranked safety in the state of Texas in 2009 out of Carroll High School in Corpus Christi.
“I wouldn’t consider my school a powerhouse," he said. “We were decent, but it was really big, the ‘Friday Night Lights.’”
At TCU, he redshirted as a freshman and played safety for two years before switching to linebacker. But as a senior with NFL dreams, he started only three games in Gary Patterson’s innovative 4-2-5 defensive scheme during the Horned Frogs’ 12-1 season.
He had 30 tackles, 4.5 for a loss as a rotation player in 2014. He had three tackles in what might have been his last meaningful football game, a 42-3 Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl win over Ole Miss.
“After my senior year, I was down,” he said. “But I wouldn’t let it break me, because I love the game. There was too much I was playing for. I didn’t have the season I wanted to, but I feel like that was a blessing to me because it humbled me in a way.
“It made me open my eyes to see I’m not this big-time player. It brought me down to planet Earth, so to speak. I’ve been working hard ever since then.”
I asked why he loves the game, an unfair question for someone still so young.
“I just played it as a kid,” he said. “My dad used to play. My dad got me into it. Growing up in Texas -- that Texas football, too.”
Some guys lose their love for the game when they struggle to shine in college. But Anderson speaks glowingly of his experience at TCU. Playing for Patterson, he learned coverage skills as a safety and how to play sideline to sideline and shed blocks as a linebacker.
“It was amazing,” he said. “We had a great coaching staff. They made us become a student of the game. They made us not just play physically but mentally. That’s what football is, mostly mental.”
“This team really suits me, because the scheme for linebackers is a lot similar to what I was doing at TCU,” he said. “It’s just different terminology.”
Anderson got his degree in criminal justice in December. He has ideas about life after football.
“Well, what I always wanted to do was be a firefighter, and that’s actually still what I want to do,” he said. “When I took business classes, I actually considered going to law school, too. It’s still in my mind. Right now, I put being a firefighter over it. I want to help people.”
When I mentioned his two sacks, he corrected me that one was really only “half a sack.” For the purpose of this column, with everything that’s on the line for him, I told him we’d round up.
As for the forced fumble when he sacked Browns quarterback Thad Lewis with a minute left in the first half, he said, “I just saw the ball and wanted to make a play on it.” The Bears got the ball back on the Browns' 49-yard line, but Robbie Gould missed a 43-yard field goal to end the half.
If this is it for Anderson and he goes back to Corpus Christi to become a firefighter, he can always look back on a humid night in Chicago and say he played linebacker in the house of Butkus, Singletary and Urlacher. He saw the ball and made a play on it. Sometimes it's just that simple.
CHICAGO -- David Fales made his case to be Chicago's third-string quarterback, throwing two touchdown passes, and the Bears closed out the preseason with a 24-0 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night.
The Bears (3-1) head into their first season under coach John Fox with some big holes and a long list of injuries, particularly at receiver.
The defense had seven sacks and three takeaways, helping Chicago prevail on a night when both teams held out almost all their top players.
CHICAGO -- Coach John Fox went the safe route and rested all of the starters, but a handful of reserves strengthened their case to be included on the Chicago Bears' 53-man roster. Here are some quick thoughts on the Bears’ 24-0 victory over the Cleveland Browns.
QB depth chart: Jay Cutler and Jimmy Clausen (concussion) were both scratches, leaving the Bears with only No 3. quarterback David Fales and recently claimed Zac Dysert. Fales did not disappoint. The former sixth-round draft choice fired a 19-yard touchdown pass to Marc Mariani -- the best receiver on the field Thursday night -- on Chicago’s lone scoring drive in the first half. In the third quarter, Fales hit Ify Umodu for an 11-yard touchdown to finish with a 134.0 passer rating. Dysert took over at the end of the third quarter.
Maybe that dude could start: Mason Foster should dominate against backups. Forster, who made 54 starts for the Bucs, led the defense with four tackles and one sack in two quarters of play. Don’t rule out Foster at inside linebacker at some point in the regular season.
Who got hurt? Safety Anthony Jefferson left the game with an arm injury after making a nice open-field tackle on special teams.
A player who looks amazing: Inside linebacker Jonathan Anderson had a memorable sequence in the second quarter. In a span of four plays, Anderson recorded two sacks and forced a fumble that Cornelius Washington recovered.
Rookie watch: Fourth-round pick Jeremy Langford thrilled the crowd with a 34-yard rush before halftime. Langford finished the first half with 47 rushing yards on six carries. Third-round choice center Hroniss Grasu was guilty of a holding penalty that negated a long Ka’Deem Carey run. Tayo Fabuluje replaced Jordan Mills at right tackle.
One reason to freak out: The preseason is over. Celebrate! Green Bay visits Soldier Field in exactly 10 days. That’s probably not a reason to celebrate, but at least the games will count.
Alshon Alert: Banged-up wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (calf) emerged from hiding and played catch on the Soldier Field turf prior to kickoff. The Bears have kept Jeffery away from the media for two weeks. Jeffery is expected to be ready for Week 1, but he hasn’t practiced since Aug. 12.
Willie watch: Willie Young went from leading the Bears in sacks to starting the final meaningless preseason game. Such is life for Young, who is firmly on the bubble with cut-down day approaching. Young played hard in the first half, but was it enough? Young’s projected base salary of $2.45 million isn’t helping matters. Lamarr Houston has an even higher 2015 base salary ($5.95 million), but he seems further along at outside linebacker.
Jennings has history with coach Lovie Smith from their time together with the Chicago Bears. He also has history with defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who was an assistant with the Indianapolis Colts when the Colts drafted Jennings.
The Bucs appear set with Alterraun Verner and Johnthan Banks as their starting cornerbacks, but Jennings could compete with Mike Jenkins for a backup role or challenge Sterling Moore for the nickelback job.
A 10-year veteran and two-time Pro Bowler, Jennings, 31, was released by the Bears on Sunday.
CHICAGO -- Now that the preseason is almost over, let’s take a crack at predicting the Chicago Bears’ final 53-man roster.
Keep in mind this is a fluid process. The Bears may attempt to make trades or claim waived players over the weekend, but NFL teams usually know most of their 53 man roster well in advance of Saturday’s official deadline.
Try and have some fun. Don’t take it too seriously.
No surprises at the top with Cutler and Clausen (concussion). Fales missed a good portion of camp with a reported illness but is the clear favorite to be the Bears’ No. 3 quarterback. Newly acquired quarterback Zac Dysert should land on the practice squad unless Fales is terrible against the Browns. Another team could claim Dysert, but his history with John Fox makes him a strong candidate to remain in Chicago in some capacity.
RUNNING BACK (4)
The top three on the depth chart -- Forte, Rodgers and Langford -- look to be locks. The suspense over the fourth running back, if the Bears keep four, ended when Senorise Perry went on injured reserve. Carey caught a break.
WIDE RECEIVER (5)
Please note that Kevin White (active PUP) does not currently count against the Bears’ 53-man roster. The Bears keep Mariani because of his value on special teams. Bellamy is the best of the other guys. The Bears need to keep at least five receivers because of injuries. The plan is for Jeffery, Royal and Wilson to be ready for Green Bay, but you never know.
TIGHT END/HALFBACK (4)
I went back-and-forth on the fourth roster spot, but Chicago probably keeps one of the new guys they just claimed off waivers/traded for. The only “surprise” is Bear Pascoe. My rationale is the Bears likely want to save money and keep a minimum salary player over a veteran, hence the inclusion of Lee.
The Bears just don’t have much quality depth on the offensive line. Rookie Tayo Fabuluje probably finds a home on the Bears’ practice squad. Bears general manager Ryan Pace needs to be all over the waiver wire because several of the offensive lineman that made my 53 really didn’t play well enough in the preseason to justify a spot. But who else can you keep?
Please note that Jeremiah Ratliff does not count against the Bears’ 53 man roster until he finishes serving his three game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Williams makes the cut because he is a wide body and built play nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme. Washington proved to be an effective special teams contributor in 2014. Someone will be released once Ratliff returns after the Seattle game.
I can see the Bears releasing Bostic, but the team needs to keep extra linebackers. Projected starting inside linebackers McClellin and Jones have underwhelmed in the preseason. Willie Young has worked extremely hard to recover from a torn Achilles, but he makes too much money ($2.45 million) to sit the bench. Plus, I’m not sure if Young has any special teams value. Young should land on his feet and find a team that plays a 4-3 defense.
I kept Tracy Porter off the list because he seems to have a difficult time staying healthy. But I could see the Bears rolling with Porter because of his experience. That’s 50/50. Hurst can also play safety and nickel. That increases his value.
Ryan Mundy’s season-ending hip injury really hurts the Bears’ safety depth. At least Hurst can play safety in a pinch. This is definitely a less than inspiring group. Help is needed. Seems like Amos is a starter by default.
No surprises here. Gould, O’Donnell and Gafford are the only specialists listed on the Bears’ official depth chart.
Former Super Bowl winning head coach Jon Gruden had a front-row seat when Jay Cutler hit rock bottom.
Gruden and partner Mike Tirico were in the booth on Dec. 15 of last year when the Chicago Bears hosted New Orleans on "Monday Night Football"; a game that will be remembered for the intense criticism Gruden and several other ESPN analysts directed at Cutler for his performance (17-of-31 for 194 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions) that night.
Gruden even called for ex-Bears head coach Marc Trestman -- a former assistant on Gruden’s staff in Oakland -- to bench Cutler midgame.
Nine months later, Gruden says he feels a little better about Cutler, who is playing for his fifth offensive coordinator since 2009.
"I think he's got talent," Gruden said during a "Monday Night Football" conference call to kickoff the 2015 season.
"I don't think anybody would dispute the talent that Cutler possesses. He's smart, he can run, and he can throw. He's got to win some games. He's got to win over the city. He's got to win over the team. He's got to be consistent, No. 1. He's got to eliminate turnovers. Until he does, the Bears are going to hover around mediocrity. He has the talent to be great, but for whatever reason, Marc Trestman, Lovie Smith, name the coordinator, it hasn't worked out yet, and I have a feeling that this is a good year for Jay."
Gruden, however, isn’t sure what to make of the Bears overall.
"Well, it's hard to say in preseason because I haven't seen Alshon Jeffery play or their first-round pick, (Kevin) White, from West Virginia," Gruden said. "I don't know the status of those two. And obviously they really would impact this offense in a positive way. But it looks like they're committed to running it. It looks like Jay Cutler fits the new offensive scheme by Adam Gase. They pass protected a little better with their first group than they did later in the season last year, but I think it's going to come down to defense.
"They've got to address their secondary. They just released Tim Jennings and they have new faces in the secondary in the deep end. They have a lot to prove on defense in Year 1 under John Fox. But knowing Fox and Vic Fangio, they'll find a way to scrap and be a good defensive team. They'll compete and make it tough on offenses with all the different things that they do. But I have a lot of questions about their defense, and this receiving corps, if they're going to be a prolific passing team like they have been a couple years ago."
The Bears make only one "Monday Night Football" appearance this season when they travel to San Diego on Nov. 9.
Why watch: On the slim chance John Fox decides to tempt fate and play the starters for one series, the Bears could use the work. Chicago’s first-team offense has not scored a touchdown in the preseason, settling instead for a handful of Robbie Gould field goals. On defense, the Bears put forth a decent effort on Aug. 22 in Indianapolis but fell apart in Cincinnati last weekend. The Bengals scored 21 first half points vs. the Bears’ projected starting defense, despite Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton leaving the game after one series. The Bears are looking for any kind of good news in the preseason finale.
Did you know: Jay Cutler holds a special place in his heart for the Browns. Cutler’s performance two years ago (22-of-31 for 265 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions) in a win over Cleveland convinced ex-general manager Phil Emery to award the quarterback a seven-year contract with $54 million guaranteed at season’s end. The Browns finished that year 4-12. This marks the 12th straight year Chicago and Cleveland square off in the preseason.
Six-time Pro Bowl center and ESPN NFL Analyst Jeff Saturday paused when asked to write a scenario where the Chicago Bears avoid a last place finish in the NFC North.
"That's tough to do," Saturday said on ESPN Radio's Dickerson and Hood Show.
"I like the way the Minnesota Vikings are building their team. Adrian Peterson is coming back and Teddy Bridgewater is playing well and getting better. Defensively the Vikings will be good with head coach Mike Zimmer. Zimmer is a defensive minded head coach. So I would think Green Bay and Minnesota would be competing for that top spot. I also like Detroit. I think they're a good team. But obviously I'm picking the Packers to win the division. Then I like Minnesota over Detroit."
Where does that leave the Bears?
Expectations are low around Chicago going into the regular season.
After a horrific 5-11 season, Bears ownership fired head coach Marc Trestman and replaced him with proven winner John Fox, but from a personnel standpoint, the Bears were unable to make massive upgrades in the offseason. Quarterback Jay Cutler returns for a seventh season, and first-round pick Kevin White (No. 7 overall) had surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left shin and begins the year on the physically unable to perform list (PUP).
Bears general manager Ryan Pace conceded that White could miss the whole season.
"How can the Bears do it?" Saturday said. "Oh, man. Well, Cutler just goes crazy and has a fantastic year. Alshon Jeffery gets healthy, Matt Forte leads the squad running the ball and the offensive line does the job blocking. You know, that stuff just really hasn't happened recently.
"You're asking me to paint you a picture? I'm not an artist. It's a difficult thing to do."
The Bears waived tight end Blake Annen to make room for Lee on the 75-man roster. Annen appeared in five games for the Bears as a rookie in 2014.
NFL teams must trim their rosters to the final 53 by Saturday.
Lee joined the Texans this season as an undrafted free agent out of Bowie State where he caught 107 passes for 1,225 yards and four touchdowns in 40 games.
The Bears wrap up preseason play against the Cleveland Browns at Soldier Field on Thursday (8 p.m. ET).
Jennings said that after a short nap, coach Lovie Smith asked him to return to the Bucs facility "just to hang around the guys."
"It was good to see some of my former [Chicago Bears] teammates, from Henry [Melton], Major [Wright] and Chris [Conte]," Jennings said.
Jennings said there's an obvious comfort level if things work out with the Bucs, as he already knows Smith's defensive scheme from his days in Chicago, and Jennings feels he can slip right in.
The Bears announced the release of the 31-year-old Jennings on Sunday. A 10-year veteran, the two-time Pro Bowler had seen his role diminish in Chicago in recent weeks.
Jennings told Anderson his process of selecting a team is not all about judging the championship caliber of a team. Jennings also welcomes the opportunity to help develop younger players.