Promoted ILB John Timu – To replace Anderson the Bears promoted 2nd year ILB John Timu from the practice squad. Timu has the opposite skill-set of Anderson, he’s an instinctive run-stopper with the strength to shed blockers and punish ball carriers. His weakness is in pass coverage, which we saw in his rookie season with the Bears when he was routinely burned by tight ends and running backs. Even an injured Joique Bell, the Bears new backup, roasted Timu in coverage last season. Timu will likely backup rookie ILB Nick Kwiatkoski and play in short-yardage and goalline situations.
Waived TE Greg Scruggs – The experiment to move Scruggs from defensive line to tight end worked well enough for him to make the final 53-man roster, but not enough to survive the roster churn necessary to keep up with the Bears recent rash of injuries. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bears re-sign Scruggs to the practice squad to give him more time to learn the tight end position. He has the size, athleticism, and strength to develop into a solid blocking tight end.
Signed OL Colin Kelly to the Practice Squad – A former undrafted free agent out of Oregon St who was signed by the Chiefs in 2013 before spending two years in Canada and part of the 2016 season with the 49ers. Kelly is an undersized tackle (6’5, 296) who moves well and could be a good fit for OC Dowell Loggains zone blocking scheme.
Waived OL Jason Weaver – To make room for Kelly, the Bears waived tackle Jason Weaver who was on the practice squad last year as well, but was a disaster in the preseason.
Signed & Promoted QB Matt Barkley – The Bears cut ties with last year’s developmental QB David Fales and replaced him with Matt Barkley. A former 4th round pick by the Eagles in 2013, who appeared in four games over two years throwing for 300 yards with zero touchdowns and four interceptions.
Barkley was traded from the Eagles to the Cardinals for a 7th round pick before the 2015 season, but he didn’t play in any games for Arizona last year. He had an inconsistent preseason, but I watched the final preseason game, a 38-17 win over the Broncos, and Barkley looked sharp. He completed 20/29 passes, for 262 yards, 2 TDs, and no INTs.
He has decent size (6’3, 227), a strong arm, and a solid pedigree. Had Barkley entered the draft after his junior year, before a disastrous senior season, he likely would have been a late first or early second round pick. He’s 26, so his developmental period should be about over, but he has more upside than Fales and could get a chance to play this year.
Signed & Promoted RB Raheem Mostert – The Bears had one of the best kick returners in the league the second half of 2015 in Deonte Thompson, who averaged 29.2 yards per return which would have been good for 2nd in the league had he had enough returns to qualify.
This season hasn’t gone as well with Thompson consistently making the wrong choice to bring the ball out of the end zone despite the new rules that start touchbacks at the 25-yard-line. Thompson has taken back eight kicks with an average of just 20.9 yards per return.
The Bears signed and promoted a possible replacement returner in Mostert. The undrafted free agent in 2015 was arguably the fastest player in that year’s draft with a 40-time as low as 4.28 at his pro day. Mostert has bounced around the NFL since, spending time on five teams before ending up with the Bears. He probably the fastest player on the Bears roster and could be a dangerous return man if given a chance.