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Chicago Bears: Players on the Roster Bubble Entering the Preseason Finale

Jack Sanborn, Chicago Bears

Jack Sanborn is one of several players who have put themselves in a good position to earn a spot on the 53-man roster with a strong training camp and preseason, but the work's not done yet.

As another NFL preseason concludes this weekend, teams are preparing to make their final roster cuts. And as the Chicago Bears wrap up the month of August with a visit to the Cleveland Browns on Saturday night, we'll get a long look at the players at the bottom of the depth chart. These are players who will have to fight for either a third- or even fourth-string roster spot, a place on the practice squad, or put together game tape to try and impress other teams. After two series of cuts, the Bears enter this game with 80 players on the active roster but will need to get down to 53 by Tuesday.

With the biggest number of cuts still to come, there's a sense of urgency among those players whose roster spot is not already secure. Here are some guys that I think need to shine the most on Saturday.

Nathan Peterman, QB

We're now in the day and age in which most teams only keep two quarterbacks on the active roster with a third usually on the practice squad for developmental purposes. The downside for Peterman is that he's now in his sixth NFL season, therefore he's no longer eligible for the practice squad. This preseason, he's completed 12 of his 20 pass attempts but hasn't thrown a touchdown. He's also totaled 121 yards with those completions while getting sacked three times.

Head coach Matt Eberflus has already said the starters will see significant snaps in the first half on Saturday. That includes quarterback Justin Fields. But Fields will give way at some point to Peterman, who could get the entire second half to show his skills. He'll need to take advantage of these extended reps in order to convince general Ryan Poles and Eberflus to keep three quarterbacks on the roster, which seems like a longshot. Otherwise, he'll become a free agent looking to sign with another team.

Darrynton Evans and De'Montre Tuggle, RBs

Both Evans and Tuggle have gotten their opportunities this preseason but their on-field impact has been minimal thus far. Evans produced 72 total yards on 20 touches, most of those coming on the ground. Tuggle, an undrafted rookie out of Ohio, has gained 63 yards on 18 carries. Neither player has scored.

Right now, David Montgomery, Khalil Herbert and sixth-round pick Trestan Ebner from Baylor are locks to make the team along with fullback Khari Blasingame. There's still a chance the Bears could keep four tailbacks, which means Evans and Tuggle are battling for that spot. The odd man out will probably end up on the practice squad. Either way, Saturday's game is critical for both Evans and Tuggle.

Wide receivers not named Darnell Mooney or Velus Jones Jr.

Mooney is fully entrenched as the No. 1 wideout while Jones, the team's third-round pick, has been impressive in his own right. The other spots are open, although Byron Pringle (who has missed a lot of training camp because of a quad injury) and Equanimeous St. Brown seem like fairly safe bets. Even though Dazz Newsome, a sixth-round pick last year, was released earlier this week there are still plenty of guys competing for roster spots.

N'Keal Harry will likely start the season on injured reserve, but that still leaves Isaiah Coulter, Chris Finke, Dante Pettis, Kevin Shaa, Tajae Sharpe, and Nsimba Webster in the running. David Moore was placed on IR earlier this week as injuries have had a significant impact on this position group during camp.

Even if one or more of these wide receivers breaks out on Saturday, it's possible that Poles will see who else is available as teams finalize their rosters early next week. But a strong showing certainly wouldn't hurt anyone's chances of sticking around beyond Tuesday. 

Jack Sanborn, LB

This Wisconsin alum has been one of the stars during the preseason but he can't rest easy just yet. As an undrafted rookie, he was already facing a steep hill to make the team but to his credit, he has made the most of the opportunities given him. In the first two preseason games, Sanborn has been credited with 14 tackles and had two takeaways in the first game against Kansas City – an interception and a fumble recovery. Sanborn has been a factor against both the run and pass on defense and he's also contributed on special teams.

In my opinion, he's already earned a roster spot. But now that Roquan Smith has decided to play out the rest of his contract and is taking part in practice, Sanborn's path to the 53-man has gotten a little tougher. He still appears to be in decent shape, especially if he puts together another solid, all-around performance.

Duke Shelley and Kindle Vildor, CBs

Even though the Bears drafted a pair of rookies with the expectation that both would start Week 1, there were still several jobs up for grabs in the secondary. Unfortunately, neither Shelley nor Vildor has really taken advantage of the opportunities presented to them during training camp and the preseason to claim one of these spots.

Shelley and Vildor are among the candidates looking to secure one of the reserve cornerback jobs and each has already seen a significant amount of playing time as a Bear. Both were drafted by the team. Shelley was a sixth-round pick in 2019 with Vildor going in the fifth round a year later. Neither's stats jump off of the page so they must play very well on Saturday to show the coaching staff they are good choices to help fill out the secondary. Remember, the expectation is that second-round picks Kyler Gordon (CB) and Jaquan Brisker (S) will both start right away, provided both rookies are healthy.

— Written by Gabe Salgado, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He can also be heard on WGN Radio. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.