Browns-Bears Preview: "Bubble Bowl" 2009 - Players Fighting for a Roster Spot

Daniel WolfSenior Writer ISeptember 2, 2009

After coming off an impressive game versus the Tennessee Titans, the Cleveland Browns have a short week of practice before they have to play the Chicago Bears on Thursday night at Soldier Field in the “Bubble Bowl.”

You're probably asking yourself, “What is the Bubble Bowl?”

The Bubble Bowl is the last game of the NFL preseason, when the potential starters play maybe one series and then are benched for the rest of the game so that the younger players and rookies—those that are on the bubble—can prove to the coaching staff they are talented enough to make the final roster cut.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said many times that he wants to get rid of the final preseason game so that he can lengthen the NFL regular season.

There are still discussions as to whether losing a preseason game would benefit or hurt the NFL, but it would definitely limit the opportunities for younger players to show their skills on the football field.

The following is a list of players who are on the bubble and need to perform at a very high level to prevent themselves from getting the dreaded pink slip.

Beau Bell—Linebacker

After being hurt most of his rookie season in 2008, Bell has had to prove himself to the new Browns regime in order to keep a place on the roster.

Unfortunately, the new regime selected two linebackers in the 2009 NFL Draft, David Veikune and Kaluka Maiava, and both of those guys have impressed on both defense and special teams.

If Bell wants to make the team, he will need to have a strong showing against the Bears, especially on special teams.

Known as a very hard hitter, Bell has only shown that a few times, the most recent being against the Titans on a kickoff coverage that was stopped at the 20-yard line.

Martin Rucker—Tight End

Many analysts and experts said that Rucker was supposed to be the Browns' answer to losing Kellen Winslow, Jr. and his pass-catching abilities, but he has almost been nonexistent during the preseason.

The Browns coaching staff wants tight ends that can block, first and foremost, to help the running game, but blocking may not be Rucker's strong suit compared to the other tight ends, Steve Heiden and Robert Royal.

Some NFL teams carry two tight ends, and others carry three. If the Browns carry three, Rucker might make the cut, but if they only carry two, then there's no chance.

Charles Ali—Fullback

Ali has seen minimal playing time, and with the tight ends and running backs lining up in the backfield for running formations, it does not look good for Ali. He might get cut very soon.

Corey Ivy—Cornerback

With the sudden release of Rod Hood, Ivy's roster spot may be more secure as of right now, but he has made some mental errors in his limited playing time. However, he has also had some really good pass breakups on key plays in the first three preseason games.

Ivy may be in the running to be the Browns' nickelback, but with rookie corner Coye Francies making major strides during training camp and in games, Ivy may not hold onto a roster spot due to Francies' impressive play.

If the Browns choose to keep five cornerbacks, then Ivy should be safe, but if the Browns go four corners and keep an extra safety, then Ivy may be on the chopping block.

Noah Herron/Jerome Harrison—Running Back

Herron has shown that he is a capable third string runner in the NFL, but with Harrison recovering from the injury he sustained in the first preseason game, Herron will have a tough time securing the third string spot on the roster.

The Browns may surprise many by keeping Jamal Lewis, James Davis, Harrison, and Herron all on the roster by sacrificing a roster spot at another position.

Lance Leggett/Paul Hubbard/David Patten—Wide Receiver

Both Leggett and Hubbard were making great plays in the first two weeks of training camp, but they have not shown those same skills in any of the preseason games so far.

Patten has been injured the majority of training camp, and he has leadership, but is he worth the cost of taking another guy's spot who has played in preseason?

With a wide receiver position that is very crowded, most NFL teams only keep five (maybe six) receivers on their final roster. Currently it looks like Braylon Edwards, Josh Cribbs, Mike Furrey, Mohamed Massaquoi, and Brian Robiskie will make the roster.

Look for either Leggett or Hubbard to make the practice squad, or perhaps both.

These are just a few of the players who are on the bubble right now. Of course, there are many more, seeing as the Browns need to go from 75 players to 53 players in a week.

That's a total of 23 players that are on the bubble.

(Article originally posted on Dawg Scooper: An Unofficial Cleveland Browns News Source)


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