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5 Dark-Horse Candidates to Make the Chicago Bears' Final 53-Man Roster

Ross ReadContributor IIIJuly 8, 2013

5 Dark-Horse Candidates to Make the Chicago Bears' Final 53-Man Roster

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    Training camp is not far away. The Bears have a new influx of talent as Phil Emery and Marc Trestman look to breath new life into a franchise that has failed to make the playoffs five out of its last six seasons.

    The last five spots on an NFL roster can be the toughest spots to fill. A coach has to make a tough decision whether to go with a veteran with experience or a youngster with upside.

    Here are five players who are dark horses to make the Bears roster this season.

Wide Receiver Marquess Wilson

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    Marquess Wilson made headlines at Washington State for all the wrong reasons. He now looks to put the past behind him and make a name for himself in Chicago.

    The Bears selected the 6'3'', 194-pound receiver in the seventh round of this year's draft. He almost went undrafted not for a lack of talent but questions surrounding his character. Wilson quit college after he accused coach Mike Leach of physical, emotional and mental abuse. Leach was cleared by the school and Pac-12 of any wrong doing.

    Wilson now gets a fresh start. All the talent is there and the Bears are very slim at the receiver position. The best thing Wilson can do is get into a rhythm with Jay Cutler and get in the good graces of Marc Trestman.

    It Wilson shows maturity and makes plays during training camp and the preseason, he should sneak in as the fifth and final receiver on the roster.

Tight End Fendi Onobun

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    In the past the Bears made it a point to carry multiple blocking tight ends due to a poor offensive line. With upgrades on the line made, they might opt to take a chance on a player with tremendous offensive upside.

    Fendi Onobun has been on four teams since being drafted in 2010. At 6'5'', 252 pounds, he was a former basketball player at the University of Arizona before finding his way onto the University of Houston's football team.

    Needless to say, football is still a new sport to Onobun, but he's learning fast. He turned heads during minicamp with his size, speed and athleticism. Whether he can do it in training camp still remains to be seen.

    At some point, Onobun will figure it all out and turn into the talent teams around the league believe he can be. The Bears are his fifth spot in the NFL but could be a long-term home for him.

Cornerback C.J. Wilson

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    When it comes down to those final roster spots, flexibility and universality are key. C.J. Wilson is a speedy corner who provides an extra element on special teams.

    Wilson is an undrafted free agent from North Carolina State. In college he was known as a ball-hawking defensive back with exceptional speed and quality return skills.

    Early on, Wilson has shown he can keep up with NFL receivers. Should he continue to show he can cover as well as give the team something on special teams, it will be very hard to cut him.

Center P.J. Lonergan

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    One thing's for sure about P.J. Lonergan: Having been a three-year starter at LSU, he has seen his fair share of NFL talent.

    Lonergan will not wow you physically. He has the necessary size at 6'4'', 305 pounds to play center but still lacks the strength and technique needed to push guys off the ball. What helps him is his experience and intelligence.

    Why can Lonergan make the roster? It's the Aaron Kromer factor. Kromer has been known to turn relative unknowns into quality linemen, and Lonergan might be his next achievement.

    Roberto Garza is getting older and needs a replacement soon. Lonergan may not be that guy right now, but the Bears might think he will be a year from now, prompting him to make this year's roster.

Punter Tress Way

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    Last season Adam Podlesh was on the verge of losing his job before rebounding to have a solid second half to the season. This year he might not even get to see Week 1.

    Rookie punter Tress Way comes to the Bears camp by way of Oklahoma. As a Sooner he ranks No. 1 in school history with a 44.0-yard average per punt. Way nailed five punts of 70 yards or more.

    Podlesh still has three years left on his deal. The Bears might opt to eat the cap hit this year in return for getting out of his deal going forward. Way could be the cheaper and ultimately more talented option going forward.

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