Bears claim two talented defenders, elite return specialist
Kareem is a talented pass rusher (Mark Rebilas - USA Today Sports)

Bears claim two talented defenders, elite return specialist


by - Senior Writer -

Not even 48 hours after the initial 53-man roster was released, it is the Chicago Bears getting back to work, as that roster may look different in a few days. Today was all about the Bears adding a pair of players from the waiver wire as they added former Indianapolis Colts DE Khalid Kareem and former Rams safety Quindell Johnson. To make room for the players, Terrell Lewis was released.

Regarding the newest Bears about to land in Halas Hall, you may only be familiar with them if you follow them extensively. Starting with Johnson, who will join an already talented safety room, hoping to leave an impression on Matt Eberflus and the coaching staff. A rookie this season, Johnson had a very nice college career, but together, he had an impressive season with the Memphis Tigers in 2022.

During the season, he accumulated 68 tackles, five passes defended, and added four interceptions to land in the top 10 in the nation. He also held QBs to a QBR of 49.2, one of the country's best marks. The 6-0, 201-pound Johnson has good size for safety, but most importantly, he has excellent instincts, which helped him become one of the better play-making safeties in college last season.

He plays with a unique toughness, and his versatility on the field allows him to adapt to multiple schemes. Johnson has adequate NFL size and plays with clean hips and footwork in space. He’s capable of playing high safety or lining up over bigger slot receivers but could be overmatched if asked to carry speedsters around the field.

Initially projected as a fifth-round pick when he entered the draft, some scouts felt he was a late-day two-player, so seeing him on the waiver market was a bit surprising, especially without seeing him in action during the Regular season. What is one team's trash is another team's treasure, and perhaps Johnson can become a valuable asset for the Bears in a reserve capacity behind Eddie Jackson and Jaquon Brisker.

On the other hand, Kareem is someone the Bears are more familiar with, as they spent a ton of time with him this summer. As a member of the Colts, Kareem got an up close and personal look at the Chicago staff when he took part in those joint practices a few weeks ago. Since they recently released Trevis Gipson, adding pass-rushing help remains the no. 1 priority, and they replace one pass rusher with another.

The 6-4 268-pound Kareem is still just 25 years old, but after being drafted in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL draft has some extensive experience. Kareem spent his first three seasons with the Bengals before venturing to Indianapolis last season. During that time, Kareem has yet to see the field a ton, but he tries his best to produce when he does.

Entering the 2023 season, Kareen has 28 career tackles with one sack while forcing and recovering a fumble. He will now get a chance to see an increase in playing time with the Bears in hopes of making a more significant impact than he has. Neither one of these pickups will cost the Bears a ton, and both are excellent depth plays to improve this roster.

In the process of adding these players, the Bears will lose Terrell Lewis, who initially made the 53-man roster as a defensive end backup. Lewis was a highly regarded prospect coming out of college and was a third-round pick by the Rams in 2020 before landing with the Bears in 2022. Across his brief career, Lewis has registered 40 tackles to go with six sacks.

Chicago is also adding former Bengals Punt returner and slot receiver Trent Taylor to their active roster. Taylor isn't known to be much of an offensive threat, but does a phenomenal job in the jet Sweep game which the Bears love to use. He also led the league in punt returns over 20 yards last season giving him the capability to flip the field with one touch of the football.

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