Like many writers this morning, I thought I’d offer a few thoughts on the 53 man roster. I’ll concentrate upon the position groups where I think I can offer a unique thought rather than going through them all one-by-one.
Offensive linemen (9): Charles Leno, Cody Whitehair, James Daniels, Bobby Massie, Germain Ifedi, Rashaad Coward, Jason Spriggs, Alex Bars, Arlington Hambright.
The fact that Hambright made this roster was a mild surprise. I thihnk most had targeted him for the practice squad. Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune offered the opinion that Hambright’s place is only temporary that the he’d be the first one voted off the island once the Bears started picking up players that other teams had released. I’m not so sure.
Most believe that the Bears released kicker Cairo Santos with the idea of bringing him back onto the practice squad. They can’t put kicker Eddy Pineiro onto IR and bring him back whenever they want unless they keep him on the initial roster. The plan on Monday would be to do that and to promote Santos.
The guess here is that Jason Spriggs is in the same situation. The Bears had to carry him through until Monday before putting him on IR. Hambright is probably your swing tackle until Spriggs is healthy.
Running backs (4): David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen, Cordarrelle Patterson, Ryan Nall.
Nall makes the roster over undrafted rookie Artavis Pierce. It’s a good bet that special teams may have played a part here. Pierce is also a rookie and the Bears may not be able to trust him to do things like block, yet.
Cohen and Patterson are thought to be gadget players and it will be interesting to see how snaps are split. Nall is arguably the only healthy, all-around back on the roster as long as Montgomery is hurt with a groin injury. I say “arguably” because Patterson has only been practicing with the running backs since training camp began and we don’t know how he has progressed.
Physically Patterson could be a Montgomery replacement. He has the size, the speed and quickness and the ability to catch the football that would allow him to perform in all aspects of the position. But because he was a wide receiver who was only used as a piece in isolated spots last year, he never really moved like a running back. He didn’t have the vision to spot a hole and burst through it. Like Pierce, we also don’t know if he can block.
This will be an interstesting situation to keep an eye on.
Defensive linemen (5): Akiem Hicks, Bilal Nichols, Roy Robertson-Harris, John Jenkins, Brent Urban.
The Bears probably planned to have Jenkins as a reserve on the practice squad when they signed him. This is what they did with him in 2018. But when Eddie Goldman opted out, Jenkins because an essential peice of the puzzle. I expect to see him at nosetackle when the Bears are in a three man front. Nichols will replace Goldman in the nickle.
Inside linebackers (4): Roquan Smith, Danny Trevathan, Joel Iyiegbuniwe, Josh Woods.
This position worries me. The Bears lost Nick Kwiatkoski and Kevin Pierre-Louis in free agency and they may have lost their depth along with them. Iyiegbuniwe is a core special teamer. But we really don’t know if either he or Woods can play in the defense. Historically this has been a position where starters have been lost for games for the Bears. So we may find out the hard way.
Safeties (5): Eddie Jackson, Tashaun Gipson, Deon Bush, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Sherrick McManis.
I was always amused at the memebers of the media who immediately assumed that Gipson would be starting opposite Jackson the minute he was signed. For one thing, if you follow the money, Gipson is being paid like he was on the bubble and I’d guess that he was. He was released 1 year into a 3 year contract in Houston. Whe you find out why that was, you will probably als find out why he’s not the player everyone thinks he was.
Cornerbacks (5): Kyle Fuller, Buster Skrine, Jaylon Johnson, Kindle Vildor, Duke Shelley.
Like everyone else, I was surprised when the Bears released Kevin Toliver here. As Biggs pointed out, this arguably leaves them with Fuller, Johnson and three nickelbacks, two of which, Skrine and Shelly, are only 5-9. Most seem theh think the Bears will be in theh market for a veteran corner.
I’m not so sure, thought. For one thing they still could bring back Toliver. For another, veteran cornerbacks don’t play special teams. I’m also not so sure that the Bears feel that they need help at the position as much as the media apparently does.
Skrine has played outside corner before and he reportedly was lining up there in practice and holding his own. Vildor, who is 5-11, also reportedly got time at the position. And let’s not forget McManis, a core special teamer who is classified as a safety but who played cornerback for many years.
The guess here is that the Bears will line Skrine up on the outside and move him in to nickle when they go to 5 defensive backs. At that point, they’ll move one of the others in outside. Who that is probably depnds on how comfortable they are with the rookie Johnson. The whole plan will probably also vary depending on the matchups with bigger corners covering bigger receivers.