Chicago Bears coaches say they've seen enough from players at the bottom of the roster to make most cuts now, but one spot will be decided Thursday in the preseason finale at Cleveland: the running back battle between Armando Allen and Lorenzo Booker.
"They are both very close," special teams coordinator Dave Toub said. "This is one of the battles that we are having. That is going to come to a head here during this game, that battle for the third running back spot."
Booker and Allen are the only two remaining backs behind starter Matt Forte and backup Michael Bush. RB Harvey Unga was cut and Kahlil Bell was also cut before the Giants game after refusing a $525,000 pay cut.
Allen's big strength is supposed to be receiving, and he displayed that with four catches for 31 yards in the last game. However, Booker also had four catches for one less yard. Booker has been used more as a rusher, and also has made a bigger impact on special teams, with a 105-yard kick return TD against the Redskins.
"When you get a chance, you need a splash play to make everybody take notice," coach Lovie Smith said. "The kickoff return did that. He (Booker) has a history in the league, too. In every situation we’ve put him in, we’ve seen something special from him.
"He’s a little bit different than our other running backs too -- a quick guy -- so he brings a different dimension to the rest of the group," Smith said.
A third-round draft pick by the Miami Dolphins in 2007, Booker rushed for 125 yards on 28 carries in seven games with one start as a rookie, but was traded to the Eagles for a fourth-round draft pick. The Eagles waived him in 2009 after he ran for just 53 yards on 20 carries in 2008.
Booker jumped to the UFL and played with the Hartford Colonials and became almost an instant star in that league. However, he and several other players staged a boycott against the league because they were angry over what they believed to be an unfair, $150,000 transfer fee required if players were signed by an NFL team after the season. Booker was suspended by the league because of the protest and wound up with the Minnesota Vikings in 2010 after the transfer fee was finally reduced to $25,000.
The ability to break kick returns is nothing new for Booker, who averaged 23.8 and 23.7 yards per return in two years for the Vikings.
"I've always had that as part of my game," Booker said about his return ability. "That, and pass receiving. I've played as a third-down back."
Booker had 28 catches for 237 yards as a rookie with Miami.
Allen can count receiving as a strength, too, but Booker has extensive experience playing on coverage and return teams in the NFL, and Allen can't say that.
"In college I was mainly the returner," Allen said. "It's something new to me, but it's challenging and if you want to play this game you've got to accept certain roles and that's not a problem, for me."
Allen and Booker would both would like any type of role with the team come roster cutdown day Friday.
Follow Bears reporter Gene Chamberlain on Twitter @CBSSportsNFLCHI.