The Chicago Bears open their pre-season slate on Thursday night in a match-up against the Miami Dolphins. On Wednesday head coach John Fox and the Bears released an “unofficial” depth chart. While the unofficial tag is certainly noted, this is the first time we can see how the organization views the specific players on the Bears’ roster.
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To be honest, there are not many surprises. Especially when you look at the offensive side of the ball. Jay Cutler is obviously the starting quarterback with Jimmy Clausen his primary back-up. Matt Forte is clearly the starting running back, Martellus Bennett is the number one tight end and Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal are listed as the starters at wide receiver.
There are also not any surprises up front as the first team offensive line is listed from left to right as followed: Jermon Bushrod, Matt Slauson, Will Montgomery, Kyle Long and Jordan Mills. Being the first depth chart of the season, I am not surprised to see no major changes from last season. That being said, I still hope to see the Bears try Long at tackle, and rookie Hronnis Grasu get a chance to produce at center.
While the first team selections were fairly straight forward, there were some interesting decisions made on the second-team. Marquess Wilson and injured rookie Kevin White were listed as the back-ups to Jeffery and Royal respectively. Veteran Jacquizz Rodgers was listed as the second-team running back, while rookie Jeremy Langford was listed as the third-team back. Ka’Deem Carey was simply listed in the “Other” category at the position along with Daniel Thomas and Senorise Perry.Jan 20, 2015; Mobile, AL, USA; North squad running back Jeremy Langford of Michigan State (33) runs the ball during North squad practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports
It will be interesting to see how the running back position shakes out through the season. Rodgers getting the second-team nod right now is not surprising, considering his veteran experience and the team signing him as a free agent this off season. However, Langford getting the nod over Carey is notable as those two are the most likely candidates to replace Forte if the Bears do not bring him back this season.
Langford has impressed in training camp, and Carey is struggling with an injury. To be honest, at this point, Carey may be fighting for his roster life.
With the Bears transitioning to a 3-4 defense this season, there is much more intrigue and unknown on that side of the ball. With their first crack at the depth chart, the Bears seemed to play it conservatively, which was probably to be expected. Jeremiah Ratliff is listed as the starter at nose tackle with rookie Eddie Goldman being his back-up. Ego Ferguson and Jarvis Jenkins are listed as the starters at the five-technique defensive end position.
With much viable competition, the linebacker positions will be extremely interesting to watch through the preseason. Christian Jones and Shea McClellin are currently listed as the starters on the inside, but both Mason Foster and Jonathan Bostic will have something to say about that before the first-team defense is solidified.
Major free agent addition Pernell McPhee is obviously going to start at one outside linebacker position, but the other is up for grabs, and there is some major competition. Right now, Jared Allen is listed as the starter with Lamarr Houston being his primary back-up. Sam Acho joins Houston on the second-team, with David Bass and Willie Young rounding out the position on the third-team.Jul 30, 2015; Bourbonnais, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive end Jared Allen (69) during practice at Olivet Nazarene University. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
No surprises at the cornerback position with Kyle Fuller and Tim Jennings being listed on the first-team. Second-team selections Alan Ball and Tracy Porter will have plenty to say about who starts opposite of Fuller at corner, as could third-team selection Sherrick McManis.
Antrel Rolle and Brock Vereen are listed as the first-team safeties. It is relatively surprising to not see Ryan Mundy on the first-team, but him and Rolle are very similar players. New defensive coordinator Vic Fangio typically plays with one deep safety and one guy in the box. The abilities of Rolle and Mundy both fit better as the in the box safety, opening up an opportunity for Vereen.
Also keep an eye on rookie Adrian Amos, whose coverage skills could easily make him a strong candidate to play deep safety.
When it comes down to it, these were mostly conservative and expected selections by the Bears’ coaching staff. It is certainly interesting to see the players put on a depth chart like this, but I caution you to not take too much stock into this. It is only the first revision of the depth chart and it is still very early. Things are undoubtedly going to change as we get closer to the beginning of the regular season.
Until then, just enjoy watching the Bears’ preseason slate which finally begins on Thursday evening. Bear Goggles On will be covering that and all preseason games from every angle.