Initial thoughts on Chicago Bears 53-man roster


by - Staff Writer -
Jonathan Dyer - USA Today Sports
Jonathan Dyer - USA Today Sports

At long last, the wait is over, and meaningful football games begin this week. I can’t think of a better way to start the 100th NFL season than by kicking things off with the greatest rivalry in football on Thursday night between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears.

A lot has changed in the past year since these two teams last met in early December, but one thing remains the same. The hatred that these two fan bases have for one another will be at an all-time high this season as the Bears want to prove that they once again are the top dogs in the NFC North. With Chicago going 1-3 in the preseason, there were some question marks left on the roster. However, Matt Nagy and his coaching staff have finally put together the 53-man roster, and here are my initial thoughts on the opening week roster.

OFFENSE:

Quarterbacks: This comes to no one surprise that Starter Mitch Trubisky and backup Chase Daniel are named the two quarterbacks for week one. Both men were here last year, and both knew they were guaranteed their same spots to open the season unless some severe injuries or performances happened. I am however a little surprised the Bears didn’t select a third QB on the 53- man roster to use as a possible insurance policy for injury type situations. Whatever the reason, Nagy and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich must pray Trubisky stays healthy this season for them to go anywhere.

Running Backs: Tarik Cohen was the lone lock at this position given that Jordan Howard was dealt to Philly. The biggest show in this group comes from Mike Davis as he earned the number two job over Third rounder David Montgomery to open the season. I am not saying Davis didn’t deserve it because he did, but Montgomery was considered one of the best backs in the draft and the coaching staff raved about his ability all camp long. Maybe they want to ease him into a more prominent role as the season goes on but look for some movement at that position.

Fullbacks: The Bears have elected to not go with a fullback this year, and that comes as no surprise. Given the way the Bears personnel lines up, a fullback is generally not needed for their offensive sets.

Wide Receivers: Anthony Miller, Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel earning the top three spots were about as given as Trubisky as the starting quarterback to enter the season, but there were a few surprises. Mr. Do Everything Cordarrelle Patterson will be the No. 4 receiver on the team, but his position will change on every snap. Riley Ridley, I expect to be more of the No. 4 receiver with Javon Wims being that final receiver to give them balance. Whatever the Bears decide to use for options, Chicago has plenty of packages they can draw up as Patterson gives them an advantage not many teams have.

Tight Ends: Trey Burton will look to build on his impressive season last year as he will once again be the focal point tight end. Backing him up as the No. 2 will be Adam Shaheen who is looking to prove why he was considered the starting tight end a season ago before his injury. The Bears added even more depth at that position by going with four tight ends as Ben Braunecker and Bradley Sowell carved out spots on the 53- man roster.

Offensive Line: Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for Trubisky’s growth a season ago was the offensive line and how it protected him. With Bobby Massey, Kyle Long, James Daniels, Cody Whitehair, and Charles Leno Jr. pegged as the Starters, and the Bears will once again feature a dynamic group that should keep Trubisky and company upright this season. The biggest issue I see at this position is lack of depth if injuries pile up as Ted Larsen, and Cornelius Lucas are the lone backups. I feel the Bears could have gone with three tight ends instead of four to add a lineman maybe as they could be in trouble at this spot barring injuries.

DEFENSE:

SECONDARY: With Chuck Pagano taking over as defensive coordinator this season, I anticipate the Bears to have a different look on defense. Despite that, many of the names from last season will be back as it should come to no one’s surprise who is on the opening week roster. Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller will return as the top corners with Eddie Jackson back at safety. With Adrian Amos leaving for Green Bay via free agency, former Packer Ha-Ha Clinton Dix will fill that void. Add in backup corner Buster Skrine, and you have five legitimate studs. Duke Shelley, Deon Bush, Kelvin Tolliver, DeAndre Houston-Carson and Sherrick McManis round out what will be a deep and dangerous ball-hawking secondary.

LINEBACKERS: Pagano is blessed to have the secondary he has, but the defensive engine will once again run through Khalil Mack as he proved to be a difference-maker last season. Mack will once again be anchored on the outside ready to wreak havoc on opposing offenses. Leonard Floyd will join him on the other side with Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan in the middle giving the Bears four pass-rushing linebackers. Add in Isaiah Irving, Aaron Lynch, Nick Kwiatkowski, Josh Woods, Joel Iylegbuniwe and Kevin Pierre-Louis make this one of the deepest positions on the roster.

Linemen: Perhaps the most overlooked unit on defense last season was the defensive line as they proved all season long, they were an elite group. With Akeem Hicks and Eddie Goldman as the two trucks up the middle, it came very difficult for opponents to get much of anything on the ground. That should continue this season as those two once again will be 2/3 of the Bears starting defensive line with Bilal Nicholas taking the third and final spot. Overall depth could be a concern at this position as Roy Robertson-Harris, Nick Williams and Abdullah Anderson serve as the backups with all of them providing limited experience.

SPECIALISTS: The Achilles heel for the Bears last season was undoubtedly the kicking game. After Eddy Pinero beat out Elliott Fry for the kicker job this training camp, the Bears are hopeful he can resemble something close to what Robbie Gould gave this team for over a decade. Veteran Pat O’Donnell will once again be both the holder and punter this season with Patrick Scales earning the long snapper job. With neither one of these guys with a backup on the roster, Chicago must hope they remain healthy or more problems will occur.

Patterson will do what he has always done best, and that is handle the kickoff duties with Miller. With Kickoffs becoming far less returnable since they moved to the 35-yard line, Patterson may not get many chances to bring one out. If he does get the chance, buckle up because it is much watch T.V. when he has the ball in the open field. Cohen will enter the season as the primary punt returner with Jackson and Shelley waiting in the wings. I don’t like this decision and would go with Shelley despite the success Cohen has had. Your former starting back in Howard is gone, so Cohen takes over those duties. Why put him in the role of returning punts where it could limit his touches in the backfield? I think Shelley being a backup was a better option.

When we break down the entire roster and look at every position, we notice that most of the names are the same as last season. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen, but these players trust each other will know exactly where the other guy is come Thursday.

The Bears also assigned ten players to their practice squad on Sunday as they could play beneficial roles later this season. On the offensive side of the ball, QB Tyler Brey, WR, Thomes Ives, TE Jesper Horsted, RB Ryan Nall, OL Sam Mustipher and OL Alex Bars will look to practice hard every week hoping to make the 53- man during the regular season.

Across from them on the defensive side of the practice squad, you can find DB Stephen Denmark, DL Jonathan Harris, DB Michael Joseph, and LB Jesse Vaughters. Two of these three positions are extremely deep and talented already, but Harris is an intriguing piece that could be added to fortify the line many times this season.

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Tags: Chase Daniel, Tarik Cohen, Mike Davis, David Montgomery, Anthony Miller, Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Cordarrelle Patterson, Riley Ridley, Javon Wims, Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen, Ben Braunecker, Bradley Sowell, Kyle Long, James Daniels, Cody Whitehair, Ted Larsen, Cornelius Lucas, Prince Amukamara, Kyle Fuller, Eddie Jackson, Buster Skrine, Duke Shelley, Deon Bush, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Sherrick McManis, Khalil Mack, Leonard Floyd, Roquan Smith, Danny Trevathan, Isaiah Irving, Aaron Lynch, Josh Woods, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Eddie Goldman, Roy Robertson-Harris, Nick Williams, Abdullah Anderson, Elliott Fry, Patrick Scales, Jesper Horsted, Ryan Nall, Sam Mustipher, Alex Bars, Jonathan Harris, Michael Joseph
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