Nine rookies, including 5 undrafted free agents, made the defending NFC North Champion and NFC runner up Chicago Bears’ final 53 man roster. Not many surprise cuts on Saturday, although TE Dez Clark was probably the toughest pill to swallow among fans. Clark spent most of 2010 in Mike Martz’s doghouse and didn’t figure to be brought back in 2011, but a few days into camp Clark was re-signed to a 1 year deal.
Among the rookies making the team were draft picks Gabe Carimi (1), Stephen Paea (2), Chris Conte (3) and Nathan Enderle (5) and undrafted free agents WR Dane Sanzenbacher, TE Kyle Adams, LB Dom DiCicco, DL Mario Addison and S Winston Venable. A mysterious back injury sent 6th round pick J.T. Thomas to injured reserve. That shouldn’t come as a surprise as the Bears typically have at least one rookie prospect they like to redshirt each season. Remember last year’s supplemental 7th round pick Harvey Unga? Neither did Jerry Angelo after Unga spent last season on IR and this preseason mostly away from the team for personal reasons. Hit the jump to see how the final 53-man roster finally shook out.
QB (3): Jay Cutler, Caleb Hanie, Nathan Enderle
If you see Caleb Hanie much besides mop up duty, things are bad. If you see Nathan Enderle with any meaningful action, the season has been lost.
RB (3): Matt Forte, Marion Barber, Kahlil Bell
Chester Taylor is finally officially sent packing. Don’t be shocked if the Bears take out an insurance policy with Robert Hughes on the practice squad.
FB (1): Will Ta’ufo’ou
Forte runs better behind a fullback, so Ta’ufo’ou makes it. He needs to become relevant on special teams and look out for H-back Kyle Adams who’s hot on his tail to be a contributor on Sundays.
WR (6): Roy Williams, Devin Hester, Earl Bennett, Johnny Knox, Sam Hurd, Dane Sanzenbacher
Bears fans get their wish with a scrappy white wide receiver making the team. Let’s see if the pretty boy can become the next Wes Welker.
TE (3): Kellen Davis, Matt Spaeth, Kyle Adams
This group sees the biggest turnover from last season. Gone are vets Greg Olsen, Brandon Manumaleuna and Dez Clark and in are free agent Matt Spaeth and rookie Kyle Adams.
OL (8): J’Marcus Webb, Chris Williams, Roberto Garza, Lance Louis, Gabe Carimi, Frank Omiyale, Chris Spencer, Edwin Williams
Probably the group that makes most fans nervous. Don’t be surprised if Chris Spencer finds his way into the starting lineup.
DL (10): Julius Peppers, Israel Idonije, Corey Wootton, Nick Reed, Mario Addison, Anthony Adams, Henry Melton, Matt Toeaina, Amobi Okoye, Stephen Paea
Nice to see the strong efforts by Nick Reed and Mario Addison rewarded with a couple of roster spots. While Corey Wooten is still on the mend, they will need to work into the DE rotation. With Anthony Adams missing most of camp, the Bears will need contributions from Matt Toeaina and rookie Stephen Paea.
LB (5): Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Nick Roach, Brian Iwuh, Dom DeCicco
By far the thinnest group on the team. Jerry Angelo will be scouring the waiver wires looking for some experienced help. The big question is whether it will cost undrafted rookie Dom DiCicco his roster spot or if they take from another area.
CB (6): Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings, Zack Bowman, D.J. Moore, Corey Graham, Joshua Moore
No big surprises here. If Tillman or Jennings goes down, things could get dicey.
S (5): Chris Harris, Major Wright, Craig Steltz, Chris Conte, Winston Venable
Not a lot of experience backing up Chris Harris and second year man Major Wright. Here’s another area where the Bears could use some veteran experience.
Specialists (3): Pat Mannelly, Robbie Gould, Adam Podlesh
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it, Adam Podlesh has failed to impress so far. I hope he figures it out soon before those swirling winter winds start howling in off Lake Michigan.
So there you have it. I fully expect a couple of the undrafted guys to have their dreams shattered when the Bears try to scoop up a couple of veterans on the waiver wire. Stay tuned to see how the Bears construct their practice squad on Sunday and then go about the business of preparing for the Atlanta Falcons in just 1 week.