The Bear Goggles on Countdown to Kickoff series is now underway for the second season in a row. With 14 days to go until the Bears’ season kicks off, we will highlight the Bears’ player that is wearing number 14, Deonte Thompson.
Thompson has been with the Bears for two seasons and has been active in 23 total games. A majority of his time with in Chicago has been spent on special teams returning kickoffs. Last year, in 16 games, Thompson returned 35 kickoffs for 804 yards with an average of 23 yards per return. He did not bring any of his returns back for a touchdown.
The Bears used Thompson as a receiver as well, and he caught 22 passes for 249 yards with an average of 11.3 yards per catch. He had two touchdowns as well. Thompson was put in as a receiver out of necessity and while he didn’t do that bad, he wasn’t spectacular. The good thing about him was that he was available because the Bears were extremely short of players at all positions last season.
With the preseason winding down it looks like Thompson will have to fight for a roster spot. Chicago has brought in several players to try out on kickoff and punt returns. Some of those new faces include Eddie Jackson, Tarik Cohen and Benny Cunningham. Josh Bellamy also figures into the special teams equation as does Daniel Braverman and Ka’Deem Carey (injured). But the Bears aren’t going to keep all of them so someone will have to go.
Thompson is not the most dynamic receiver but he is an adequate return specialist. He has proven that he can take a kick back all the way as we saw in Chicago’s game against the Cardinals. On the return, he showed a unique ability to make quick decisions on the field, follow his blockers and avoid tacklers. It was a thing of beauty.
But Thompson does not do that consistently. Also, some of the other players the Bears have put back to return punts and kickoffs appear to be better than Thompson. Guys like Cohen and Jackson have proven that they can handle the return duties. And the draft picks aren’t going to get cut. So Thompson could be the odd man out.
What might save Thompson from getting cut is that the new guys will play a lot on their respective side of the ball. The coaching staff may not want to wear them down and will want to keep them fresh for their primary roles. So that might give Thompson a reprieve and give him a spot on the roster.
But the Bears have other guys that can return punts and kickoffs who won’t be starters or players that have a larger role on the team. There are guys like Cunningham who can play running back and return kicks. Then you have Ka’Deem Carey, who is out for a while with a wrist injury. If the Bears bring him back, he could be a return specialist. And he has some value.
Ultimately, it would appear as if Thompson will be on his way out in Chicago. With all the new talent available and his lack of production over the last couple of seasons, it’s hard to see him sticking around.
Future with the Bears
If Thompson makes it past final cuts and stays on the roster then it’s because the Bears don’t want to wear risk injury to some of their other talent. But Thompson’s time in Chicago is likely up.
If he does get cut he may end up on another team as a returner or a backup wide receiver. Perhaps he can carve out a niche for himself on another team but his future is not in Chicago.