|« Roster Battles Remain for Bears in Preseason Finale||Put It This Way: Dunn Was Not a Bum for the White Sox »|
Bears Fri Aug 29 2014
It's taken a full training camp and four excruciating preseason games, but the time has finally come to lock in the roster and prepare for real football starting next Sunday. Per NFL rules, teams must make their final cuts and get down to the mandatory 53 players by Saturday at 3 p.m. Most teams don't wait that long, however, and will likely start giving players their walking papers before meetings and practice today to give them a head start on trying to find work elsewhere.
The Bears are a little unique in the way they treat their final preseason game, in which no starters or primary backups wear pads, followed by other roster locks suiting up only in case third stringers get hurt. It does give us major insight on what the team is thinking roster-wise, but also raises some questions on why young players aren't getting valuable reps.
Here's what the Bears roster will most likely look like after final cuts are made:
I've flip flopped more than a detained double agent on this roster decision, and it's one of the two keys to the Bears roster. David Fales had some ups and downs in last night's game, and though be made a couple nice back shoulder throws to both Josh Bellamy and Santonio Holmes, he missed open players on numerous attempts, and didn't show a ton of pocket awareness. He needed to have a cleaner performance to warrant a spot on the roster.
The major question here is whether or not the Bears feel like Fales will go unclaimed in the waiver process in order to sneak him to the practice squad. I don't see another team claiming and carrying Fales, a sixth-round pick, on their roster with no prior knowledge of their system. There's definitely some risk here, but the team has far superior players at other positions.
Running Back (4)
Shaun Draughn has been the second best running back in camp (well, in games at least), but it wasn't a massive surprise to see Carey without pads last night. I think he could've used a few reps, but the Bears didn't want to risk any sort of injury (you'll notice this trend as we traipse through the roster). Unfortunately for Draughn, it's probably not going to be good enough to make the team.
The reason I think Perry wins the job over Draughn is purely because of special teams. Perry can return and cover kicks, and that really isn't Draughn's forte. The alternate plan here would be to keep Draughn as the third back and sign Perry to the practice squad as a potential injury replacement later in the season. I'd lean toward the former though because Joe DeCamillis needs all the help he can get.
Jordan Lynch is basically a lock for the practice squad because of his versatility in practice. The team might play him as a scout team QB when that week's opponent is more of a runner than a thrower, and he'll get plenty of time to learn the running back and maybe h-back position in the league.
Wide Receiver (6)
The big question here is whether or not the team puts Wilson on injured reserve with the designation to return. If they believe he's going to be out until November, it's the smart move to IR him because it opens up another spot until then. If they do that, I could see the Bears possibly keeping Chris Williams around, but he hasn't been available enough, or done enough in games to warrant a spot. He could land on the Bears practice squad.
Michael Spurlock being held out of last night's game was a major surprise. There's a slight chance that be may still get cut based on Holmes' performance, but that would be a pretty poor move from an organizational perspective. If he wasn't a lock for the roster, he should've been given the opportunity to put his skills on tape. He muffed two punts in games and hasn't done much receiving, so it's really surprising to me that he got a coveted bench spot last night.
Holmes took his one catch to the house, and returned a punt 30 yards. He showed the burst he had pre-injury, and was told to remove his pads after the punt return, all but assuring his spot on the roster. Josh Bellamy looked good last night, but he's simply too far down on the depth chart to warrant a spot.
Tight End (2)
Zach Miller would be the third tight end if he were healthy, but his season-ending injury will prevent the Bears from having another dynamic player on their roster. Matthew Mulligan and Jeron Mastrud didn't do enough to hang around, plain and simple.
Offensive Line (9)
Brian de la Puente
This unit was so healthy last year that the thought of the team keeping 10 linemen around was obscene, but with the injuries to Long, Mills, de la Puente and Britton means the Bears need to consider it. I tend to lean toward nine despite the bumps and bruises.
Though de la Puente hasn't seen much time, he's the primary interior backup and might have a long-term future with the Bears. He has a history with Aaron Kromer from New Orleans, so he seems like a lock. Ola's benching last night means he's in, and though Britton was in uniform, he's probably on the team as the primary swing tackle again. Boggs stays around in case de la Puente isn't ready to go next week, and Charles Leno Jr. is probably the extra man if they go with 10. My belief is that he'll be a practice squad signee unless another team nabs him.
Defensive Line (10)
The first eight are the obvious choices, and I think Lane and Washington have both done enough to warrant roster spots. Washington has had some trouble containing bootlegs, but he's also blown up a lot of run plays and gotten good penetration on passing downs too. You can't teach the bull rush. He's been getting a lot of reps on special teams, and his size/speed combination is tough to find.
The one guy being left out here is David Bass, but he could very well make the team over Washington or Lane. He played some three-technique defensive tackle last night, and if the team thinks he has that kind of versatility to play well inside, that might be the deciding factor. He seems a bit too lean for that position in my opinion, but the Bears might think otherwise. Bass would almost certainly find a job elsewhere if he's indeed a cut.
It would've been nice to see the rookies Ferguson and Sutton get some early reps, but the team is so fearful of injuries that they didn't have their pads on.
The linebacking core last night was atrocious. They were out of position most of the night in pass coverage, and missed the run fits on more than a few occasions, including the long touchdown run. The top five are sure to make the roster, and the sixth spot is down to Jones and Jerry Franklin. Franklin played special teams for the Bears last year, but I think Jones has done a nice job of covering and blocking in camp (he sprung Holmes' return last night), and might have a future playing linebacker because of his size. He didn't play the position well in camp, but that's not surprising for a rookie.
The Bears grabbed Bass off the waiver wire after final cut downs last year, and it wouldn't be surprising to see the Bears go after a linebacker from another team because of how poorly the entire unit played this preseason. They need help on special teams too, and backup linebackers are primary players in that realm.
Kyle Fuller not playing was a bit of a surprise because he's missed a lot of camp, but he's a starter in nickel and, again, the team didn't want to risk injury.
The Bears typically roll with just five, but the corners have done so well in camp that they have to keep another around. Hurst, C.J. Wilson and Al Louis-Jean have all done some great work, and I think Hurst stays around because he's been just a bit better than Wilson. If Wilson pick-sixes Rex Grossman's pass last night, he might've gotten the spot instead. It's that close.
The Bears will almost certainly try to get the guys they cut onto the practice squad, but I wouldn't be surprised if Wilson and/or Louis-Jean end up on other rosters -- especially the Jets as mentioned yesterday.
Vereen could've used reps (where have you heard that before?). That being said, the only guy here that played last night was Jennings, and he didn't do anything to stand out. I think he stays around for the time being because of Conte's concussion status (unknown), but I think the Bears will cut him loose before Tuesday and then re-sign him so that his contract isn't guaranteed for the whole season (the team has done this before).
The Bears might scour the waiver wire for another fit here, but I don't think there's a team in the NFL that's deep enough at safety to cut a significantly better player than the Bears have now.
The missed field goal last night was apparently due to a bad snap, as evidenced by Gould going up to Hartson on their way to the sidelines and consoling him a bit. It didn't get any better postgame when Marc Trestman said, "I thought the snaps weren't perfect tonight at times."
It wouldn't be at all surprising to see the Bears cut Hartson loose and go after Jeremy Cain if they're that unhappy with how Hartson played. Cain filled in for Patrick Mannelly last season, and was recently cut by Tampa Bay. Though Cain lost the battle down there to Andrew DePaola, it wouldn't be surprising to view him as an upgrade over the current situation.