CHICAGO -- Now that the preseason is almost over, let’s take a crack at predicting the Chicago Bears’ final 53-man roster.
Keep in mind this is a fluid process. The Bears may attempt to make trades or claim waived players over the weekend, but NFL teams usually know most of their 53 man roster well in advance of Saturday’s official deadline.
Try and have some fun. Don’t take it too seriously.
No surprises at the top with Cutler and Clausen (concussion). Fales missed a good portion of camp with a reported illness but is the clear favorite to be the Bears’ No. 3 quarterback. Newly acquired quarterback Zac Dysert should land on the practice squad unless Fales is terrible against the Browns. Another team could claim Dysert, but his history with John Fox makes him a strong candidate to remain in Chicago in some capacity.
RUNNING BACK (4)
The top three on the depth chart -- Forte, Rodgers and Langford -- look to be locks. The suspense over the fourth running back, if the Bears keep four, ended when Senorise Perry went on injured reserve. Carey caught a break.
WIDE RECEIVER (5)
Please note that Kevin White (active PUP) does not currently count against the Bears’ 53-man roster. The Bears keep Mariani because of his value on special teams. Bellamy is the best of the other guys. The Bears need to keep at least five receivers because of injuries. The plan is for Jeffery, Royal and Wilson to be ready for Green Bay, but you never know.
TIGHT END/HALFBACK (4)
I went back-and-forth on the fourth roster spot, but Chicago probably keeps one of the new guys they just claimed off waivers/traded for. The only “surprise” is Bear Pascoe. My rationale is the Bears likely want to save money and keep a minimum salary player over a veteran, hence the inclusion of Lee.
OFFENSIVE LINE (8)
The Bears just don’t have much quality depth on the offensive line. Rookie Tayo Fabuluje probably finds a home on the Bears’ practice squad. Bears general manager Ryan Pace needs to be all over the waiver wire because several of the offensive lineman that made my 53 really didn’t play well enough in the preseason to justify a spot. But who else can you keep?
DEFENSIVE LINE (8)
Please note that Jeremiah Ratliff does not count against the Bears’ 53 man roster until he finishes serving his three game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Williams makes the cut because he is a wide body and built play nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme. Washington proved to be an effective special teams contributor in 2014. Someone will be released once Ratliff returns after the Seattle game.
I can see the Bears releasing Bostic, but the team needs to keep extra linebackers. Projected starting inside linebackers McClellin and Jones have underwhelmed in the preseason. Willie Young has worked extremely hard to recover from a torn Achilles, but he makes too much money ($2.45 million) to sit the bench. Plus, I’m not sure if Young has any special teams value. Young should land on his feet and find a team that plays a 4-3 defense.
I kept Tracy Porter off the list because he seems to have a difficult time staying healthy. But I could see the Bears rolling with Porter because of his experience. That’s 50/50. Hurst can also play safety and nickel. That increases his value.
Ryan Mundy’s season-ending hip injury really hurts the Bears’ safety depth. At least Hurst can play safety in a pinch. This is definitely a less than inspiring group. Help is needed. Seems like Amos is a starter by default.
Kicker: Robbie Gould
Punter: Pat O’Donnell
Long snapper: Thomas Gafford
No surprises here. Gould, O’Donnell and Gafford are the only specialists listed on the Bears’ official depth chart.