The Bears face the Browns on Thursday in the final practice game of the preseason and rosters must be cut down to 53 less than 24 hours after that last game, so it’s a pretty good bet the Bears and the front office have a pretty good idea who’s staying and who’s going.
We have a pretty good idea of how the final roster should shape up based on the breakdown in past seasons, but this isn’t a typical offseason. With injuries to some key players, the Bears’ hand may be forced and some bottom of the roster and key backups could be exposed to waivers while the Bears protect themselves with some of their starters.
With Urlacher’s injury, the Bears need to take a closer look at the linebacker position. Last season, they only kept five, but that may have been more due to a lack of talent. Even if #54 comes back for the season opener on September 9th, the Bears will need to protect themselves and have a few extra bodies for practice while Urlacher recovers between games.
Podlesh is probably the biggest monkey in the wrench. Special teams coordinator Dave Toub loves Podlesh and targeted him in free agency last offseason. Seriously, who targets a punter for anything? Podlesh responded with a great season in 2011 and the Bears have high hopes that he’ll be booming punts in 2012, but a hip flexor injury creates some doubt about his status to start the season. The Bears wouldn’t IR Podlesh, would they? From the sound of his injury, it doesn’t seem like it’s too severe, but it might be enough to keep him from kicking the first few weeks.
If Podlesh misses time, it looks like undrafted rookie Ryan Quiqley is a capable replacement, but he’ll require a roster spot if even needed for a few weeks. That takes a spot away from another positional area.
Second year defensive tackle Stephen Paea turned heads early in camp and looked to be worthy of the second round pick the Bears invested in him. Then he got injured in the first preseason game and has been out the last couple of weeks. He admitted he’s behind schedule on his comeback and now the regular season opener might be in question. If Paea can’t go, Matt Toeaina can certainly fill the NT spot, but do the Bears keep another DT around in case Paea’s health woes continue?
The revolving door at safety for the Chicago Bears doesn’t look like it’s coming to an end any time soon. Rookie Brandon Hardin is on IR with a neck injury while second year player Conte is nursing a separated shoulder which he suffered in the Redskins game. The funny thing about those separated shoulders, once you pop them out, they are more likely to pop out again. Not good for a safety flying around the defensive backfield with large bodies flying at him. Conte’s injury and Hardin’s trip to season ending IR open up a spot for second year safety Anthony Walters and could have the Bears combing the waiver wire once final cuts are made.
DiCicco is listed as Brian Urlacher’s backup, but in reality, Nick Roach slid over from the SAM ‘backer spot and Geno Hayes has come off the bench to take Roach’s OLB spot. In reality DiCicco’s nagging groin injury affects special teams as Dom is a key contributor. If he’s limited, do the Bears save a roster spot for an undrafted backup linebacker who doesn’t really play linebacker? Isn’t that what Blake Constanzo is supposed to do? DiCicco’s injury certainly puts him on the roster bubble.