53-Man Roster Projection: Running Backs
We take a look at what running backs fans should expect on the Bears 53-man roster week one against the Packers.
The running backs position is the first real position with question marks that we examine. If the Bears keep four tight ends, that position is pretty set. If the Bears keep 6 wide receivers, that position group is also pretty firm. Quarterbacks the only question is if they keep Tyler Bray (doubtful). With the running back position, it’s not just how many they’ll keep but who.
First of all, there are two locks that don’t need to be looked at closely. Jordan Howard will be the team’s starting running back. Tarik Cohen will be the primary backup but will seen the field plenty at both running back and wide receiver.
The next player on the list is Benny Cunningham. Cunningham is, in theory, competing with Ryan Nall and Taquan Mizzell for a roster spot, but truthfully, Cunningham’s spot is pretty firm. The situation with Cunningham is similar to last year. If Howard is injured and misses time, who fills Howard’s role?
The answer is not Tarik Cohen. Cohen’s role may increase some, but he still is going to play the specialty role that Matt Nagy is carving out for him. The Bears need a more traditional running back to lineup behind Mitch Trubisky and Cunningham has proven to be a capable backup who can handle that type of role if needed.
More from Bear Goggles On
- Franchise tag and transition tag windows open for Chicago Bears and NFL
- How the Chicago Bears can control the running back market in 2023
- The Chicago Bears can own the city of Chicago moving forward
- Chicago Bears NFL Combine Preview: Quarterback
- 7 best free agent tackle options for Chicago Bears
Michael Burton, the team’s fullback, is also most likely going to earn a 53-man roster spot. Nagy’s offense last year with the Kansas City Chiefs utilized a fullback on a regular basis. Some hoped that the rookie, Ryan Nall, would also be able to fill the fullback role, but Nall’s position is more up in the air than to slide him into the fullback role from time to time. Nagy is going to want a fullback and Burton will be the guy.
The final two questions is who would earn a spot between Nall and Mizzell, and would that player earn a spot on the 53-man roster? It’s still early, but Mizzell’s performances are lackluster at best. He is supposed to be a shifty, elusive back, and thus far he hasn’t shown the quickness and agility that he needs to have to succeed at the NFL level. Nall’s first performance in the Hall of Fame game wasn’t spectacular, but he did improve in the team’s second game against Cincinnati. At this point, Nall seems to have a leg up on Mizzell in that regard.
But is Nall worth a roster spot? At this point, it’s hard to imagine a team scooping up Nall and guaranteeing him a spot on their 53-man roster if the Bears waive him. His first step is pretty slow and he doesn’t have much explosiveness. He’s pretty solid once he’s running down hill, but he doesn’t get to the line of scrimmage too quickly.
The smart money here is that the Bears waive Nall and hope that no one scoops him up and the Bears stash him on the practice squad. Mizzell is probably released outright.
53-Man Roster Prediction: RUNNING BACK (4): Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, Benny Cunningham, Michael Burton (FB)