Big game on Thursday

Five Chicago Bears on the bubble

September 2, 2009, 10:01 AM

By: Jeff Dickerson

Adrian Peterson

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Adrian Peterson is a very popular teammate, but he'll need more than popularity to stick with the team.

Let's move past all the wide receiver talk for a moment and focus on five players who merit extra attention Thursday night. Just a reminder, rosters are cut down to 53 this Saturday.

Trumaine McBride : McBride took a major step backwards in Denver, and now that Rod Hood has been added to the mix, McBride's roster status may be in jeopardy. It's truly amazing that somebody can go from starter to bubble player in a matter of days. But when you look at it objectively, it may come down to McBride or rookie D.J. Moore being the sixth cornerback. Once again, draft status could play a role. Even though Moore was a major disappointment this summer, he still was taken in the fourth round. Despite his size limitations, McBride has always shown a lot of heart, but you can't overlook all those missed tackles.

Adrian Peterson: The locker room feels like it needs Peterson on this team; does the coaching staff/front office feel the same way? Moving past Peterson's obvious special teams prowess, people tend to forget what a consistent runner he's been in Chicago. It's a tough call whether the Bears keep four running backs again this year. If they do, another position would have to be trimmed. I brought this up Tuesday; do the Bears need to retain four tight ends? Regardless of how Peterson performs against Cleveland, this may turn out to be one of the toughest calls as the final roster takes shape.

Kevin Malast: Malast might be one of the best stories of training camp -- that very few people are talking about. The undrafted rookie linebacker from Rutgers first stood out in OTAs, and continued his strong performance in the preseason -- 15 tackles in three games. It's nice to see a rookie play with a sense of urgency, too bad some of the draftees haven't shown that same attitude. Malast seems like an ideal candidate for the practice squad, granted he clears waivers, which in all likelihood should happen.

Marcus Freeman: The Bears are expected to keep seven linebackers, six of them are no-brainers (in my opinion) -- Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Pisa Tinoisamoa, Nick Roach, Jamar Williams and Hunter Hillenmeyer. That leaves one spot for Freeman or Darrell McClover. I don't think even draft status can save Freeman, who's struggled mightily this summer. McClover is a terrific special teams player with an awesome nickname -- "The Commando." You tell me which guy deserves to stick around.

Craig Steltz: What do the Bears do here? Steltz lost two starting jobs in less than a month, and shows no signs of improving his range or speed. The only way he makes this team is because of (1) special teams or (2) friends in high places. I want to reiterate that Steltz is a great guy, who kept his mouth shut and went about his business the right way in Bourbonnais. But if it comes down to Steltz or Josh Bullocks for the fourth safety spot, how can the Bears go with Steltz? But then how embarrassing would it be for the organization to cut a guy they touted as a starter alloffseason? Yikes.


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