The Chicago Bears wrapped up their offseason program on Thursday and will open training camp on July 28 at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois. Here’s a 53-man roster projection:
* The Bears usually keep three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, but keeping a fullback requires them to trim a spot somewhere. It’s still a good bet Fales is part of the organization in some capacity.
* The Bears kept four tailbacks last year. Swap out Matt Forte for Howard.
Fullback (1): Paul Lasike.
* Lasike may not end up winning the starting fullback job, but he’s the only one currently under contract.
Wide receivers (6): Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White, Eddie Royal, Deonte Thompson, Joshua Bellamy, Daniel Braverman, Marquess Wilson (PUP) (cut: Marc Mariani, Cameron Meredith, Derek Keaton, Duncan Kieren, Darrin Peterson).
* Wilson is talented, but he battles injuries and doesn’t do much on special teams. There is no guarantee he contributes much even when he returns from foot surgery. Mariani distinguished himself at receiver last year, but Braverman is younger and cheaper. The best preseason battles could be the wide-receiver position. A couple of good players will end up being cut. I gave Bellamy the nod over Meredith because of special teams.
* Housler did not participate in minicamp, so that will be a situation to monitor. The Bears seem to like Braunecker, who many thought would be drafted. Lee can still make the team if he stays healthy and has a successful preseason, but Moeaki (if available) is a proven commodity. This will be another interesting position to follow in the preseason.
Offensive line (9): Kyle Long, Bobby Massie, Charles Leno, Ted Larsen, Cody Whitehair, Hroniss Grasu, Nate Chandler, Nick Becton, Jason Weaver (cut: Adrian Bellard, Cornelius Edison, John Kling, Martin Wallace, Donovan Williams).
* The first seven spots on the line are fairly secure. The battle is expected to occur at the bottom of the depth chart.
Defensive line (6): Eddie Goldman, Akiem Hicks, Mitch Unrein, Jonathan Bullard, Will Sutton, Ego Ferguson (cut: Marquis Jackson, Terry Williams, Cornelius Washington, Roy Robertson-Harris, Keith Browner).
* The Bears opened 2015 with five defensive linemen because Jeremiah Ratliff began the season on the suspended list. It’s possible the Bears keep six to open 2016. Sutton and Ferguson both seem on the bubble.
Linebackers (9): Pernell McPhee, Willie Young, Danny Trevathan, Jerrell Freeman, Lamarr Houston, Leonard Floyd, Nick Kwiatkoski, Sam Acho, John Timu (cut: Jonathan Anderson, Lamin Barrow, Jarrett Grace, Christian Jones).
* This is a deep group. I left Jones off the 53-man roster because the Bears appeared to sour on him last year. Both Timu and Anderson flashed as undrafted rookies in 2015. But you can’t keep everyone.
Defensive backs (10): Tracy Porter, Adrian Amos, Deon Bush, Bryce Callahan, Omar Bolden, Kyle Fuller, Deiondre’ Hall, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Harold Jones-Quartey, Sherrick McManis (cut: Chris Prosinski, Kevin Peterson, Demontre Hurst, Jacoby Glenn, Taveze Calhoun, De’Vante Bausby).
* Prosinski played well last year, but the Bears drafted a pair of safeties, which makes it harder for veterans earning the league minimum to stick around. But Prosinski is a pro. He’s in the mix. Bolden takes up a roster spot even though he’s primarily a return man.
* Brewer is experienced. The Bears are looking for better consistency from their long snapper this year.