By Chris Emma-

CHICAGO (CBS) — When the Bears needed a quarterback to protect rookie Mitchell Trubisky — their prized investment — from re-entering in the fourth quarter of an exhibition Thursday evening, the insurance policy they signed in March wasn’t available.

Mark Sanchez has been listed as the team’s backup quarterback to this point, but coach John Fox said that he wasn’t available for the preseason finale. Instead, the team went into the game carrying just two quarterbacks — Trubisky and Connor Shaw.

Sure enough, Shaw was pulled away to be evaluated for a concussion, passed the sideline protocol, then came back in for Trubisky and suffered a hamstring injury late in the fourth quarter. The Bears elected to throw the ball in the final minute of a 25-0 loss to the Browns, with Trubisky put in harm’s way. He was hit twice near the end of the game, including on a sack on the final play.

Meanwhile, where was Sanchez? His very purpose on this team was to protect Trubisky in case he wasn’t ready for action. There was an inverse effect in this preseason game, with the fourth-string quarterback Shaw forced to leave the game and Trubisky thrust onto the field.

It seems Sanchez’s place with the Bears could be in jeopardy entering this weekend’s cut-down deadline, which occurs at 3 p.m. CT on Saturday. With Trubisky’s development to this point well ahead of schedule, the Bears must ask themselves if Sanchez is still needed.

“Mark’s a great teammate,” Fox said of Sanchez. “He’s been tremendous for both our younger quarterbacks. He’s got the most experience of that room, so I think he brings a lot to the table as far as helping those other quarterbacks.”

Sanchez has played in 77 NFL games and started 72, leading the Jets to the AFC Championship in each of his first two seasons. Starter Mike Glennon has played in 21 games, while Shaw has played and started in just one.

Despite the respect for the veteran Sanchez, Fox wouldn’t commit to keeping him past Saturday’s cuts.

“Those are decisions we’re going to have to make,” he said. “I love that. But we have yet to make that decision.”

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

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