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Bears Thu Jan 03 2013

26 Words on 26 Bears Who Should Be Back in 2013

Thumbnail image for GB bears icon.pngWith GM Phil Emery firing Lovie Smith, rest assured the roster will have at least 40 percent turnover going into 2013. By my count, at least 26 guys should be safe with the new regime (with a few more roster fillers staying around as well). Here's 26 words or less on each guy:

OFFENSE

Jay Cutler - He's not elite, but he's no lower than 12th at the most difficult position in the sporting world; tough to complain about that.

Brandon Marshall
- He set the single-season franchise records in receptions (118) and yards (1508), yet left multiple plays and touchdowns on the field -- scary.

Matt Forte - Quietly had his second best season in rushing yards (despite numerous injuries), but had his worst season receiving. Blame the guy above.

Alshon Jeffery - Led the team in yards per reception, and showed flashes of big play ability. An offseason of learning pushoffs from Marshall could make him a playmaker.

Michael Bush - Had his worst season as a pro, partly due to injuries, and mostly due to lack of blocking. He stays because Emery signed him last year.

Gabe Carimi - Too early to give up on a first round pick with one season of playing time, of which he reportedly played with a badly hurt leg.

Earl Bennett - Cutler's security blanket got new paper last year, and did good things when he got the ball in space. Upgrades could make him the fourth receiver.

Roberto Garza - Respected veteran lineman who was solid at center and can slide back to guard if necessary; second only in value to the next guy.

Lance Louis - Mauler in the run game with great pulls and handled stunts well in the pass game. Knee injury puts season opener in question.

Evan Rodriguez - H-back type blocker who was just OK this season, but has time to develop because Emery drafted him.

DEFENSE
Julius Peppers - His numbers were right on par with what you expect, but 25 percent of his sacks came against Arizona. The Bears need more consistency.

Lance Briggs - Surprisingly wasn't one of the Bears elected to the Pro Bowl. He and Peppers need to find the fountain of youth to keep the defense competitive.

Charles Tillman - He's become a perennial Pro Bowler not only because of his ability to punch the ball out, but because of his pristine coverage skills.

Tim Jennings - Was told last offseason he needed to improve his ball skills to continue starting. A league leading nine picks later has him in Hawaii.

Henry Melton - His trip to the Pro Bowl isn't really deserved, but he's one of the younger defenders that showed major improvement in 2012.

Major Wright - Speaking of improved players, he made the largest leap of them all. Health was a key factor, along with consistency in coverage and run defending.

Israel Idonije - The closest guy to Peppers in terms of production is unfortunately just as close in age. Solid veterans in the D-line rotation are must keeps.

Shea McClellin - Flashes of why he was a first round pick were there, but injuries and inconsistency held him back. He could become a solid player in 2013.

Stephen Paea - The big gap filler will be 25 next year, and staved off injuries for the first time in years to turn in a productive season.

Corey Wootton - Seven sacks and 16 games played are the good, but only one effective rush skill is bad. A compliment to his spin move could be deadly.

Chris Conte - A solid start was clouded by a regressive, injury riddled finish to 2012. He'll compete for a starting job, but could be a great third safety.

Brandon Hardin - A preseason trip to the IR means he's now missed two consecutive years of football. He'll be on a short leash despite his third round selection.

SPECIAL TEAMS
Robbie Gould - A freak leg strain late in the season shouldn't be a worry come next season. He remains one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history.

Adam Podlesh
- After an injury and disastrous start to the season that forced a Tuesday kicking competition, he finished the year as a top pin-down punter.

Patrick Mannelly - Signed a contract extension midseason, and remains a premier long snapper who might play well into his 40s in Chicago.

Eric Weems - He'll likely supplant Devin Hester as the Bears kick and punt returner, but he also thrives in covering those units as well.

Check back next week for more players (along with Hester), who might've played their last game in Chicago.

 

Andrew / January 3, 2013 11:31 AM

I note that Brian Urlacher's name is not on your list. Care to explain?

Chad / January 4, 2013 9:28 AM

You bet - I'll explain in my next column coming next Wed/Thurs.

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