CLEVELAND - As advertised by Browns coach Pat Shurmur and Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith, Thursday's preseason finale was a battle of backups and soon-to-be unemployed athletes.
Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden and Bears quarterback Jay Cutler were dressed but didn't play. Weeden warmed up before kickoff before heading to the sideline.
The Browns did go with starting receivers Greg Little and Mohamed Massaquoi. They were replaced quickly by Travis Benjamin and Jordan Norwood. Rookie Josh Gordon, who had a strong training camp, entered in a three-receiver set.
Owen Marecic was on the field at fullback to start the game. Marecic was a starter last season before going on injured reserve with a concussion.
Marecic could be on the roster bubble due to the presence of rookie Brad Smelley. Smelley has shown consistent hands. He helped his cause with a sure tackle on a Bears' punt return, which should help his cause.
Smelley has a lean build and wasn't drafted for his blocking skills, but he was called on in that role last season at Alabama. His backfield partner was Browns' first-round draft pick Trent Richardson.
"I think I've done well (blocking) but you can always get better in every aspect of your game," Smelley said.
The decision between Marecic and Smelley could come down to which of the two is more versatile. It's also possible that Smelley is waived and then signed to the practice squad if he clears waivers.
"I think that (versatility) is a good part of my game," Smelley said. "I love going out and catching passes. I also love the dirty part of the game - the blocking in the trenches. Any way you can help a team out is a bonus."
UP FRONT: With most of the first team not playing, getting starts on the offensive line were Garth Gerhart at center, John Greco and Jarrod Shaw at the guards, and Stanley Daniels and Ryan Miller at the tackles.
Greco and Miller, a sixth-round draft choice, have the best chances to make the final roster.
SAFETY FIRST: David Sims and Tashaun Gipson got the call at the safety spots. The two are likely contending for one spot behind T.J. Ward, Eric Hagg and Usama Young.
Ray Ventrone would normally be considered a roster lock because of his play on special teams, but that might not be the case this year. Ventrone has missed time with an injury and might be on the outside when final cuts are made today.
Sims was late on coverage of halfback Armando Allen, who ran a post pattern and caught an 11-yard scoring pass from Josh McCown
INJURY REPORT: As expected, linebacker Scott Fujita missed a third straight game with a knee injury. Fujita returned to the practice field this week but only ran sprints.
Fujita is hoping that a three-game suspension for his reported role in the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal is overturned in a court of law.
Cornerback Dimitri Patterson (ankle) was out.
Injured offensive players that didn't play included tight end Benjamin Watson, tackle Oniel Cousins, Richardson and tight end Jordan Cameron.
Rookie linebacker James-Michael Johnson injured his left oblique muscle making a tackle in the second quarter.
NO REST: Running back Montario Hardesty wasn't given the day off. Hardesty, who fumbled away possession in each of the last two games, had six carries for 24 yards in the first quarter.
Shurmur didn't want to risk injury to Hardesty, who could be the starter in the opener if Richardson isn't back. Richardson had minor surgery to remove a loose particle from his left knee Aug. 9 and hasn't practiced since.
IN THE HOUSE: New Browns owner James Haslam III was in attendance for a second straight week. Haslam and his wife sat in the Dawg Pound a week earlier when the Browns hosted the Philadelphia Eagles.