With a little more than two weeks until the Chicago Bears kick off 2015 Training Camp, a revamped front office and coaching staff aren’t the club’s only new faces. Under new head coach John Fox, the team is expected to get back to their original black-and-blue roots.
With a new – or old, depending on how you look at it – philosophy back in the Windy City, certain players will fit the new system, while others could be on their way out. Injuries will always play a part in personnel decisions but one new wrinkle added to the fold this year is the lack of loyalty GM Ryan Pace has shown to previous draft classes.
With a large roster turnover expected throughout the early seasons of Pace’s tenure as GM, it’s fair to expect more than a few surprise cuts. Here’s are five that could happen in 2015.
1. ILB Jonathan Bostic
After two consecutive disappointing seasons to start his NFL career, Bostic may not be as big of a surprise on this list as some think. Not only has his play been inconsistent but the third-year linebacker can’t stay healthy.
In 2014, Bostic saw 696 snaps and grabbed 83 total tackles. Although he showed flashes of above-average play, he also missed 6 tackles and amassed a -6.5 Pro Football Focus (PFF) grade against the pass.
Bostic allowed 30 receptions at an 81-percent completion rate for 326 yards, 227 of which came after the catch, and a 103.4 quarterback rating against. In addition, the former Florida Gator struggled with his gap assignments and was consistently lost on the field against the run.
The club’s 2013 second-round pick also missed three and a half games last year due to a strained back and has yet to make it onto the field for any off-season workout due to injury. As a result, Shea McClellin and Christian Jones took all of the first-team snaps at inside linebacker, while Mason Foster and 2014 undrafted rookie DeDe Lattimore took most of the second-team snaps.
Although the depth chart at inside linebacker doesn’t look overly deep, players like Lattimore and 2015 UDFA John Timu could provide more special-teams upside than Bostic, especially if he can’t make it back on the field for the start of training camp. His situation is worth monitoring as the preseason progresses.
2. RB Ka’Deem Carey
Another on-the-brink roster decision could be looming with this 2014 fourth-round pick.
Carey is coming off a disappointing year in which he saw just 100 total snaps. Within those snaps he had just 36 touches for 158 yards, with a modest 4.4 yard-per-carry average. He also had five total receptions with a promising 11.4 average.
He struggled as a pass blocker last year mainly due to inconsistency and a lack of awareness.
The 5-9 running back did not see many reps on special teams, which could be necessary, as most believe this year’s fourth-round pick Jeremy Langford will take the primary back-up duties behind Matt Forte.
Ultimately, Carey simply may not have a role if he can’t find a way to slide in to the No. 2 slot or provide special-teams value. With Jacquizz Rodgers and Senorise Perry providing higher special-teams upside, in addition to a change-of-pace role, and Daniel Thomas having veteran experience and goal-line size, Carey could be looking for a new team come September.
3. CB Demontre Hurst
The former Oklahoma Sooners product was one of the few positive surprises last year, both in terms of size (5-10, 183) and production, in a Bears secondary that was in shambles.
Hurst took over as the team’s nickel cornerback in week 11 and showed flashes of upside but could never find consistency on a unit that was last in the league against the pass. His -5.3 PFF coverage grade looked to be more of a product of a bad secondary than actual ability.
The third-year player performed well against the run and only missed three tackles in 373 total defensive snaps. He also managed four quarterback pressures and a single interception.
What remains to be seen is if Hurst’s troubling numbers in coverage – 85 percent completion rate, 131 quarterback rating and more than 450 passing yards allowed –were a product of former defensive coordinator Mel Tucker’s broken system or an indication that his coverage abilities just aren’t NFL-caliber.
With the emergence of Terrance Mitchell during early off-season workouts and Tim Jennings expected to slide inside to nickel in sub packages, does Hurst have a spot on this roster? Right now, the forecast seems bleak.
4. TE Dante Rosario
Rosario is one year removed from being signed, cut and re-signed again, all within a week’s span.
The Bears originally acquired the tight end right before the 2013 season opener in a trade with the Dallas Cowboys for a seventh-round pick. He has been extended twice, both of those being one-year pacts, but has done more than enough to earn a roster spot.
This year could tell a different story. While most of that will hang on the health of Zach Miller, who had a coming out party in his first preseason game last year before going down with a broken foot that ended his campaign, the upside on the depth chart seems higher.
Martellus Bennett is heading into his third year as the team’s starting tight end and is one of the league’s best but there are plenty of question marks behind him. As a result, the Bears will head to camp with seven tight ends on the 90-man roster in what can only be assumed as a way to spice up the competition.
While Rosario may have a leg up due to his veteran status and steady production, if Miller or sleeper prospect Blake Annen can produce and stay healthy, Rosario could be a late preseason roster casualty.
5. OL Vladimir Ducasse
The Haitian-born Ducasse was originally added early in the offseason to compete for the primary backup guard position behind Kyle Long and Matt Slauson. Now, just weeks before training camp, the 27-year-old could be looking at a short stay in Chicago.
A former second-round pick of the New York Jets, Ducasse has simply never lived up to his draft status and will need a strong camp to earn a roster spot.
With Michael Ola, Hroniss Grasu and Ryan Groy all projected ahead of Ducasse on the depth chart, it’s going to take a top-notch camp and preseason to grab the staff’s attention.
- Camp Preview: Outside Linebacker
- Camp Preview: Defensive Line
- Camp Battle: Mundy vs. Vereen
- Camp Preview: Offensive Line
- Camp Battle: Ball vs. McManis
Aaron Leming has years of salary cap knowledge and has written for Rant Sports, Bears Draft On Tap, and Cover 32. He is a regular contributor to Bear Report.