The Bears still have 21 cuts to make to get down to the required 53-man roster by 8PM Friday. That’s a lot of guys that will be handing in their iPads. Here are some bubble guys in each positional group to keep an eye on during Thursday night’s final exhibition contest vs the Cleveland Browns.
This is one of the more high profile head-to-head battles that the Bears have going. It’s Armando Allen vs Lorenzo Booker. The third running back was assumed to be going to Kahlil Bell, but not so fast. Bell refused to take a pay cut of some $500k, so the Bears sent him packing. Now they get Allen and Booker battling it out to be that change-of-pace third running back. Allen is the favorite, but Booker has shown some big flashes on special teams. Thursday night will be a big night for these young men. Fullback Tyler Clutts looks to be the odd man out as Mike Tice prefers H-back types like TE Kyle Adams and rookie Evan Rodriguez.
Gabe Carimi, Roberto Garza, J’Marcus Webb, Chris Williams, Chris Spencer, Chilo Rachal and Lance Louis are my locks to make the final 53-man roster. Last season, the Bears kept eight linemen on the final roster, so by my count, that’s one spot up for grabs. Since tackle is such an area of concern, guys like Corey Brandon and James Brown could be front-runners for the last spot. Brown, an undrafted free agent, had a mid-round grade attached to him, so it was considered a bit of a coupe for the Bears to land him. He’d be an ideal candidate for the practice squad, but with so many teams out there looking for offensive line help, I doubt he’d clear waivers. It’s possible the Bears keep nine O-linemen to keep a tackle and backup G/C Edwin Williams.
It appeared to be a cage match between 2nd year man Dane Sanzenbacher and grizzled veteran Rashied Davis for the 6th wide receiver spot. Then the Bears went and cut Rashied Davis, who suffered an undisclosed injury and did not practice on Tuesday. That would make it seem that Sanzenbacher is a shoe-in for the 6th wide receiver spot. Rookie Joe Anderson is a longshot to make the team, but showed a little something late in the Bears’ win over the Giants.
When the Bears release undrafted rookie Matt Blanchard in the first wave of cuts, it seemed they were set at quarterback with Cutler, Campbell and Josh McCown. The Bears invested big free agent dollars to back up Jay Cutler with Jason Campbell and it’s not unprecedented to go into a season with just 2 quarterbacks on the active roster. If the Bears believe they can bring Blanchard in on the practice squad as a developmental quarterback, they could send Josh McCown on his way. With some of the injuries and the roster crunch, it could cost McCown his roster spot.
Not much of a battle here assuming the Bears keep four TE’s. Kellen Davis, Matt Spaeth, Evan Rodriguez and Kyle Adams seem to be locks. If the Bears keep only three TE’s, I think Matt Spaeth could be on the bubble.
The defensive line could keep up to 10 players in the final 53-man roster. By my count, Julius Peppers, Izzy Idonije, Shea McClellin, Henry Melton, Stephen Paea, Matt Toeaina, Nate Collins and Brian Price are in. That leaves DE’s like Corey Wooten, Cheta Ozougwu and Chauncey Davis vying for one or two spots, depending on how many they end up keeping.
Injury concerns could shape this group and how the final 53-man roster forms. Despite what knucklehead Rick Telender thinks, Brian Urlacher is going to make the team, along with Lance Briggs, Nick Roach, Geno Hayes and Blake Costanzo. I think redshirt 2nd year man J.T. Thomas has shown enough in the preseason to hold down a spot. That adds up to 6 linebackers, the amount the Bears kept last season. That would leave special teams maven Dom DiCicco outside looking in, along with Patrick Trahan and Jabara Williams. Will one of these players make a strong enough impression on Thursday night to have the Bears keep one of them around?
I’m going to lump cornerbacks and safeties in the same boat to simplify an already lengthy post. The usual suspects Peanut Tillman, Tim Jennings, DJ Moore, Chris Conte, Craig Steltz and Major Wright are locks. I also put Kelvin Hayden and Anthony Walters in that group. I think that leaves room for up to two guys. Jonathan Wilhite and rookies Greg McCoy and Isaiah Frey will compete for those spots. Newcomer safety Mark LeGree will need to make an impact to try to nail down a spot. It’s possible the Bears could hit the waiver wire looking for safety help, so it’s entirely possible that only one of these bubble guys makes the team.
Ryan Quiqley will be punting for his football life on Thursday. With Adam Podlesh still nursing a bad left hip, Quigley could push for a roster spot until Pods is ready to roll. If Quigley doesn’t show enough, the Bears could try again to bring in a veteran leg.
What do you think? Who are a couple of bubble guys you’re rooting for to make the team? Are some of my locks suspect? Let’s hear your thoughts in the Comments.