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Arkush: Bears waste preseason finale

Bears wide receiver Santonio Holmes (14) beats Cleveland Browns cornerback Justin Gilbert (21) on a 32-yards touchdown reception in the second quarter of a preseason NFL football game Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, in Cleveland.
Bears wide receiver Santonio Holmes (14) beats Cleveland Browns cornerback Justin Gilbert (21) on a 32-yards touchdown reception in the second quarter of a preseason NFL football game Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, in Cleveland.

When and where was it written that NFL starters shouldn’t play in or even dress for the fourth exhibition game of the preseason?

How can the NFL possibly justify teams forcing season ticket holders to buy exhibition game tickets if they want to keep their regular season seats, and then charge them regular season prices even though none of their starters are going to play?

Is it even legal? Because it sure feels like extortion.

What is the point of NFL teams premeditatedly and with a clear disregard for the interests of their customers ripping them off every exhibition season? I guess they do it just because they can.

Are players more likely to get hurt in the fourth exhibition game than they are in the first three, or one of the first couple of games of the regular season? Of course not.

Does it somehow hurt a team or individual player more if they get hurt in the fourth exhibition game rather than a game or two sooner or a game or two later? No.

Maybe there is a good reason that all of the Bears’ starters and half of their backups took the night off in Cleveland, but you’ll never convince me.

Is there a single Bears fan who believes that Shea McClellin or Jon Bostic has done enough at linebacker to prove they deserve to even play, let alone pass up valuable game reps 10 days before the regular season starts?

Do the Bears have a safety on the roster who’s actually earned a chance to start this season? No problem, let’s give Ryan Mundy, Danny McCray and the rookie, Brock Vereen, the night off.

Obviously, I’m a little perplexed, maybe even upset by Marc Trestman’s lineup decisions for the Browns game. Now I’m going to move on to outrage.

I mentioned rookie safety Vereen getting the night off in Cleveland. Kyle Fuller, Ego Ferguson, Will Sutton and Ka’Deem Carey didn’t even dress.

Fuller’s been banged up, and he will start in the nickel, so fine, give him the night off.

But is there anyone who’s ever watched a football game who doesn’t understand that Ferguson, Sutton and Vereen had a chance to become better football players Thursday night, to make the leap from prospects to NFL players, and the Bears chose to simply throw those chances away.

Easily, the decision that upset me the most in the Browns game was the decision to keep Ka’Deem Carey in street clothes.

In the Bears’ first three exhibitions, Carey had 27 carries for 74 yards and has been mediocre to poor in pass protection. A significant majority of the media that follows the team on a daily basis has been convinced that Carey was No. 3 at running back behind Matt Forte and Shaun Draughn, or best case that he was locked in a duel with Draughn for the backup job.

It’s no secret that Phil Emery and company have been infatuated with Carey since they drafted him in the fourth round. In the end it may very well turn out they were correct about what they thought they saw.

It’s also impossible to debate that through his first three exhibition games as a Bear, Carey has raised reasonable concerns that he may not be good enough to play in the NFL.

Why wasn’t he on the field vs. the Browns?

“It’s more of whatís in the best interest of the team tonight,” Trestman said. “Who did we need to play tonight and see, who did we need to sit. Obviously, all the young players need the work and need to get out and play. We made a decision that we thought was best, taking everything into consideration and thatís why it came out the way it did tonight, the guys that played.”

The Bears are a popular preseason pick to be at least a wild card team and possibly a title contender in the NFC North. That in spite of the fact that they went to training camp with huge concerns over who their starting linebackers and safeties would be and serious concerns about their special teams.

Apparently Trestman and general manager Phil Emery know something the rest of us don’t and have seen some things none of the rest of us can see.

Thank goodness, because there is no other explanation as to how they could have totally wasted their final exhibition game.

• Chicago Football editor Hub Arkush can be reached at and on Twitter @Hub_Arkush.

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