Bears tight end Adam Shaheen, right

Aaron Doster/USA Today Sports

Gabriel: Bears-Bengals Takeaways

Adam Shaheen is displaying the physical traits that the Bears are enamored by.

Greg Gabriel
August 10, 2018 - 10:15 am
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(670 The Score) As always, the preseason is about preparing your team for the regular season and finding out who can and who can’t help the team win. Winning is nice, but it's secondary to the goal of developing young players.

In the Bears' 30-27 loss to the Bengals in their second preseason game Thursday evening, there were some Chicago players who helped themselves in their quest to secure a key role and some who hurt their chances of making the final roster. Let's take a look:

Adam Shaheen, TE

Seeing as Shaheen was a second-round pick in 2017, some felt he was a disappointment as a rookie last season. I understand that viewpoint but look at the situation through a different prism. Why? Because players are drafted for what they can become, not what they accomplish immediately.

In Shaheen’s case, it was all about upside. He has great natural traits but was underdeveloped, as he was a Division-II player who had only played a few years of college football after starting out as a basketball player. Now that he's in his second year, we're starting to see what he can be.

Shaheen transformed his body in the offseason. He's noticeably quicker and faster. That showed with his three receptions for 53 yards in just limited playing time Thursday night. Shaheen was quick off the ball, and he showed good route quickness and the ability to get in and out of cuts. He catches the ball well, but it was his run-after-the-catch skills that jumped out. He's an excellent runner with speed and power.

In this offense in which the tight ends are an important component, Shaheen should put up some nice numbers this season.

Ryan Nall, RB

The Bears will most likely keep four running backs on the final roster. Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen and Benny Cunningham are locks, so that means the competition for the fourth spot is between Nall and Taquan Mizzell, who's a little quicker and faster than Nall but isn't as good of an all-around player.

Nall ran for 95 yards on nine carries and added one catch for another nine yards. While he isn’t nifty, he's patient and makes good decisions. He can catch the ball well and does an adequate job in pass protection. Now the question is how good can Nall be on special teams? That will be crucial when deciding the final cuts on the 53-man roster.  As it sits now, I believe Nall has a good chance of making the 53-man roster.

Marcus Cooper, CB

A year ago, Cooper was one of the big free-agent signings of the Bears, but he disappointed during the regular season. Chicago then cut him and re-signed him to a more suitable contract this past offseason. Regardless of what his contract says, Cooper is still disappointing. On Thursday, he gave up numerous catches, because he can’t play tight coverage. He gives receivers far too much cushion, and his ball reactions are slow. Unless he shows drastic improvement over the next couple of weeks, I doubt we will see Cooper on the roster this year.

Rashaad Coward, OT

Coward is one of the most interesting players in camp. Last year, he joined the Bears as an unsigned college free agent out of Old Dominion, where he was a defensive tackle. He showed enough in the preseason to be on the practice squad last year. He was then moved to offensive tackle in the offseason, and he has shown both natural talent and upside.

Coward is 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds with long arms and 5.17 speed. He's displayed the ideal offensive tackle athleticism to go along with that ideal size. Coward has good strength too, so now it’s a matter of learning a new position. It's hard to make that conversion.

By all accounts to date, Coward is a hard worker and doing everything he can to gain the trust of the coaches at a new position. He has probably gotten more snaps in the first two games than any player on the Bears roster.

For the most part, Coward has played well and shown that he has a lot of upsides. But he's raw. As a run blocker, he's quick off the ball and consistently gets movement with his blocks. He has been above average in pass protection, but there are times when he fails to keep good positioning on his opponent. When this happens, his feet get out of whack and he can either overextend or get his feet crossed over.

The key to Coward making the roster is to continue to improve. If he hits a plateau and stops improving, then that hurts his chances. I expect that he will continue to receive a large number of snaps over the next few weeks so that the coaches can find out all they can about him. A key to his roster status will be if the Bears keep eight or nine offensive linemen among the final 53.

Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who's an on-air contributor for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @greggabe.​