NFL teams must make final cuts by 3 p.m. CT tomorrow, trimming the roster from 75 players down to the final 53.
That includes the Chicago Bears, who have a number of tough roster decisions to make
With that in mind, let’s project the final 53-man roster by position, as well as the eight-man practice squad.
Keep: Jay Cutler, Jimmy Clausen, David Fales
Cut: Zac Dysert
Ideally the Bears would like to keep just two quarterbacks but Clausen’s concussion may force them to keep a third. Fales looked very good last night and was clearly the better quarterback over recently signed Zac Dysert. If Clausen is cleared to practice this week, Fales could get shipped to the practice squad in short order.
Keep: Matt Forte, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jeremy Langford
Cut: Ka’Deem Carey
The Bears like Forte and Rodgers as their starting one-two punch, and Langford is the workhorse of the future. Carey has looked very good in the preseason, so this was a tough cut to make, but he doesn’t have any value on special teams, which will ultimately lead to a pink slip.
Keep: Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal, Marquess Wilson, Marc Mariani, Josh Bellamy, Cameron Meredith
Cut: Rashad Lawrence, A.J. Cruz, Ify Umodu
I foresee the Bears keeping six receivers due to injuries to Jeffery, Royal and Wilson. Bellamy is the most experienced of the backups and looked good in the preseason, while Mariani will be the primary punt returner. Meredith has the most upside and size among the rest of the group, so he gets the nod.
Keep: Martellus Bennett, Zachary Miller, Khari Lee, Bear Pascoe
Cut: Dante Rosario, Gannon Sinclair
The Bears have been practicing four-tight-end sets for more than a month, so it’s likely they’ll keep four at the position. Bennett will start and Miller will serve as the primary pass-catching backup. Pascoe will serve as the blocking tight end and the Bears just traded a sixth-round pick for Lee, so there’s little chance they’ll cut him four days later. Rosario, who did very little this off-season, is the odd man out.
Keep: Jermon Bushrod, Matt Slauson, Will Montgomery, Kyle Long, Jordan Mills, Hroniss Grasu, Vladimir Ducasse, Charles Leno
Cut: Michael Ola, Conor Boffeli, Tyler Moore, Tayo Fabuluje
While it’s not saying much, Mills is the club’s best option at right tackle and will get the starting nod over Leno, who struggled in the preseason. Ola did nothing to reclaim his job over Leno and Fabuluje looks like he’s at least a year away. Ducasse will serve as the swing guard, with the club hoping third rounder Grasu never sees the field his rookie season. The sleeper here is Boffeli, who looked better at guard than Ducasse last night. I wouldn’t be surprised if Boffeli, and not Ducasse, is named the swing guard. Also, if the Bears keep nine offensive linemen, Ola would get the call due to his experience and versatility.
Total Players on Offense: 24
Keep: Jeremiah Ratliff, Ego Ferguson, Jarvis Jenkins, Eddie Goldman, Will Sutton, Terry Williams
Cut: David Carter, Brandon Dunn, Cornelius Washington
The top five players are set and I think the Bears will keep a sixth defensive lineman due to Ratliff’s three-game suspension to start the year. My guy for that sixth spot is Terry Williams, who showed last night he can be a quality space eater at nose tackle. Yet it’s also possible that Washington makes the team over Williams, as Washington has a lot of special-teams value.
Keep: Jared Allen, Pernell McPhee, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young, Sam Acho
Cut: David Bass, Kyle Woestmann
Allen, McPhee and Houston are the core of this group, while Young has looked healthy that past two weeks and should make a quality fourth. The wild card here is Acho, who has played the last two weeks due to illness. He looked good in training camp and the first two weeks of the preseason, so if he’s slated to return in the near future, he’ll make the final cut. Otherwise, look for David Bass to slip on to the final 53.
Keep: Shea McClellin, Christian Jones, Mason Foster, John Timu, Matthew Wells, Jonathan Anderson
Cut: Jon Bostic
McClellin and Jones will be the starters in Week 1 but Foster is right on their heels and could claim a first-team role if either starter fails. The big cut here is Bostic, the club’s 2013 second-round pick. He’s been hurt for most of the off-season and has looked slow when on the field. Timu has performed much better during the preseason and has earned a spot on the roster, while Wells and Anderson have good special-teams value and upside.
Keep: Kyle Fuller, Alan Ball, Sherrick McManis, Terrance Mitchell, Demontre Hurst
Cut: Tracy Porter, Qumain Black, Bryce Callahan, Jacoby Glenn
Fuller and Ball will likely start out wide Week 1, with McManis in the slot. Mitchell has been the best cornerback on the team this off-season and even took first-team snaps in the third preseason game. He also served as the No. 1 kick returner last night. Porter is the wild card here. He’s played well when healthy but he’s been injured for three of the four preseason games and just cannot be counted on. That propels Hurst into the final cornerback slot, as he has value as both a corner and safety.
Keep: Antrel Rolle, Adrian Amos, Brock Vereen, Sherrod Martin
Cut: Anthony Jefferson
Rolle and Amos will start, with Vereen the primary backup. Martin’s pick-six last night, coupled with the arm injury to Jefferson, should be enough to solidify his spot on the back end of the roster. Additionally, don’t be surprised if Hurst eventually works his way up the depth chart at safety.
Total Players on Defense: 26
Kicker: Robbie Gould
Punter: Patrick O’Donnell
Long Snapper: Thomas Gafford
WR Rashad Lawrence
OL Tayo Fabuluje
S Anthony Jefferson
OLB Kyle Woestmann
OL Conor Boffeli
QB Zac Dysert
CB Bryce Callahan
WR Ify Umodu