Breaking down the Bears' 53-man roster
|Wednesday, September 1, 2021, 11:06 AM- -|
Tuesday was a critical day across the NFL as teams needed to get from 80 players down to 53. After a strenuous offseason that saw plenty of wholesale changes across the board, the Bears had their toughest day yet as they needed to set their initial 53-man roster.
While this is the roster they expect to bring into week 1, that doesn't mean things can't change as injuries, and potential unforeseen circumstances will always make a difference in deciding who makes this team and who doesn't. There are some surprises to take note of, but for the most part, the roster looks just like everyone expected it to look.
We will start at the quarterback position, and to no one's surprise, the Bears will be carrying three QB's for the time being with Andy Dalton penciled in as the starter. That leaves Justin Fields and Nick Foles as the backups, although it appears likely that Foles will get traded to someone else in the near future. Outside of the names everyone expected, the question is how long does Fields sit behind Dalton until he takes over the starting No. 1 job.
As for the running backs, David Montgomery will once again shoulder the load after breaking out in 2020. Offseason acquisition Damien Williams will back him up while rookie Khalil Herbert beat out Artavis Pierce for the third spot out of camp. Herbert will be an interesting piece to watch as Tarik Cohen opens the season on the PUP list. Once Cohen is healthy, you would think the Bears would immediately add him to this roster. However, Herbert is a playmaker and could make the decision very difficult.
Another skill position is the wide receiver position, where the names on this roster come as no surprise. Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, Marquise Goodwin, and Damiere Byrd were locks coming into camp, highlighting that group. After a breakout preseason, Rodney Adams lands the fifth spot after the Bears cut ties with Javon Wims and Riley Ridley. I expected the Bears to carry six receivers, but they will enter the regular season with five after cutting Dazz Newsome.
Once again, the TE position looks to be an essential piece for Matt Nagy's offense, and he is undoubtedly treating it that way by carrying five TE's. Cole Kmet will get the starting nod alongside Jimmy Graham, as both will be crucial to the team's success. Offseason pickup Jesse James earned a spot based on experience, while Jesper Horsted's huge week three game landed him on the roster. Seeing J.P. Holz have his name selected is a bit surprising as it thought the Bears would go with six receivers instead of five.
Perhaps the most crucial position on this team is the offensive line, and the Bears will make sure they are set with depth across the board. Look for Jason Peters, Cody Whitehair, Sam Mustipher, James Daniels, and Germain Ifedi to be the teams' starters in week one, but plenty of shakeups could be had. Second-round pick Tevon Jenkins will hit the IR later this week, but he will be returning at some point this season. In case of injuries, the Bears will also have Elijah Wilkerson, Lachavious Simmons, Alex Bars, and fellow rookie Larry Borom all on the roster.
With the defense looking to be the strength of this team once again, there were some surprising decisions made as to who made this team. As far as the line goes, nothing should surprise you here with Akiem Hicks, Bilal Nichols, and Eddie Goldman locking down starting roles this season. Angelo Blackson, Khyris Tonga, and Mario Edwards Jr have also made the team, although Edwards must sit the first two games with a suspension.
Much like the defensive line, the linebacker unit was practically set in stone if players remained healthy. Once again, you will see Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn anchoring down the OLB positions with Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan on the inside. Along with them, look for Trevis Gibson and Jeremiah Attaochu to see significant time with Christian Jones, Alec Ogletree, Josh Woods, Caleb Johnson, and Joel Iyiegbuniwe, all listed as reserves on this team.
The secondary is where the most significant moves were made, which isn't always a good thing. Among the surprise, moves was seeing Desmond Trufant cut from this team after the Bears elected to sign him back in March. That leaves Jaylon Johnson and Kindle Vildor as the team's starting CBs with Duke Shelley and Xavier Crawford as backups. The Bears will need more help at this position one way or another as you will not get through an entire season with just four CB's.
As far as safeties goes, Eddie Jackson was a lock to start as he has for the better part of the last six years. Playing alongside him will be Tashaun Gipson Sr, who is looking to bring much-needed physicality to this team. You also have Deon Bush, DeAndre Houston-Carson, and Jordan Lucas scheduled to make this team, although Lucas is on the IR to open the season.
Cairo Santos, Pat O'Donnell, and Patrick Scales are the final three players on the initial roster as they will hold down the special team's unit yet again. Despite 27 players getting cut, some could be back in short order, especially with guys hitting the injured list or needing guys on the practice squad. CB Thomas Graham will most likely be brought back as the Bears do need depth. Trufant is another name to watch, as is Newsome.
I wouldn't be shocked to see the Bears bring back 10-12 players they elected to cut back to fill out practice squad needs. Sometimes, having too much talent is bad as you are forced to make tough decisions across the board. That continues to be the case in Chicago, but they must now proceed with the current roster in place and go from there.