A Breakdown Of The Bears’ 53-Man Roster
By Adam Hoge-
The Bears cut their roster down to 53 players Saturday, officially announcing the following cuts:
Vested veteran cornerback Kelvin Hayden, offensive lineman Eben Britton and defensive end Austen Lane all had their contracts terminated. They are now free agents.
Wide receiver Chris Williams, wide receiver Josh Bellamy, wide receiver Dale Moss, center Taylor Boggs, defensive tackle Brandon Dunn, defensive tackle Lee Pegues, defensive tackle Tracy Robertson, linebacker Jerry Franklin, linebacker DeDe Lattimore, offensive guard Ryan Groy, cornerback Al Louis-Jean, cornerback C.J Wilson and safety Marcus Trice were all placed on waivers. The waiver period will go until 11 a.m. CT Sunday. At that point, teams can begin signing unclaimed, eligible players to their 10-man practice squad.
Safety M.D. Jennings was also waived with an injury settlement.
So what does the Bears’ 53-man roster look like now that the dust has settled? Keep in mind that there could still be changes before the Bears kick off the season against the Buffalo Bills Sept. 7. Here’s what the roster looks like right now and how it might change:
Starter: Jay Cutler
Backups: Jimmy Clausen, David Fales
It’s somewhat surprising that the Bears kept Fales on their 53-man roster. They may have been afraid that another team would have claimed him if they tried to get him to the practice squad, but Fales also doesn’t look ready to contribute this season if necessary.
Starter: Matt Forte
Backups: Ka’Deem Carey, Shaun Draughn, Senorise Perry
The Bears opted to keep four running backs as Perry showed he could return kicks and contribute on coverage teams. Draughn looks like the most polished back behind Forte. Carey, a fourth-round rookie, still needs to prove himself.
Starters: Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery
Backups: Marquess Wilson (injured), Santonio Holmes, Josh Morgan, Micheal Spurlock
In three preseason games, Spurlock averaged 1.8 yards on five punt returns (with two muffs) and 18.5 yards on two kick returns. Apparently that was enough for the Bears to keep him on the roster as a returner.
Wilson could be put on IR to Return Tuesday at 3 p.m. CT so that could open up another roster spot
Starter: Martellus Bennett
Backups: Dante Rosario and Matthew Mulligan
No surprises here. Mulligan was maybe close to the bubble, but once Eben Britton was let go, it was pretty obvious the Bears needed to keep Mulligan as a blocker.
Starters: LT Jermon Bushrod, LG Matt Slauson, C Roberto Garza, RG Kyle Long, RT Jordan Mills
Backups: OT Charles Leno Jr., C/G Brian de la Puente, G/T Michael Ola
Keeping only eight offensive linemen is a surprise, especially because Leno is a seventh-round rookie and Ola has no NFL experience. Both players flashed promise in the preseason, but there’s some inexperience here. Don’t rule out Britton coming back after Week 1. Teams do that with vested veterans sometimes because if they aren’t the roster for the Week 1, then their contracts aren’t guaranteed for the full season if they get hurt.
Starters: LE Lamarr Houston, DT Jeremiah Ratliff, DT Stephen Paea, RE Jared Allen
Backups: DE Willie Young, DE Trevor Scott, DE David Bass, DE Cornelius Washington, DT Will Sutton, DT Ego Ferguson
The defensive line received the most attention in the offseason so it’s not surprising to see the Bears keep 10 of them. The only surprise is that both Bass and Washington made the team and Austen Lane didn’t. Lane appeared to be ahead of both in the rotation, but he would have been more expensive to keep.
Starters: WLB Lance Briggs, MLB D.J. Williams, SLB Shea McClellin
Backups: Jon Bostic, Khaseem Greene, Christian Jones
Briggs and Williams are veterans who missed significant time to injury last season. The rest of the unit consists of McClellin (who is in his first NFL season playing linebacker), Jones (an undrafted free agent) and Bostic and Greene (both second-year players). The Bears really need McClellin and Bostic to emerge quickly.
Starters: Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings
Backups: Kyle Fuller, Sherrick McManis, Demontre Hurst
Fuller will play a lot as a member of the nickel package, while McManis had a strong preseason. Hurst was a member of the practice squad last year and apparently showed enough that the Bears felt comfortable releasing Hayden.
Starters: Ryan Mundy, Chris Conte
Backups: Danny McCray, Brock Vereen
The guess here is that Conte starts against the Bills. McCray was signed as a special teamer and will have a big role there. Vereen is still raw, which makes me think there could be an addition here, maybe before the weekend is over.
Starters: K Robbie Gould, P Pat O’Donnell, LS Brandon Hartson
Don’t be surprised if the Bears end up grabbing a different long snapper. Hartson won the job in the training camp, but he was inconsistent, including in the preseason finale.
As for the return game, it’s still unclear who the returners are, but Spurlock figures to be one of them considering the Bears kept him. Will Santonio Holmes return punts? He showed he could do it in Cleveland.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for 87.7 The Game and TheGameChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.