The Final Four

Lake Forest - There have been no real surprises through the process of trimming the roster down to 53, but will that fact change in the final stage.

This is not being an exact science, but here's a prediction of what players will clean out their locker later today and why.

The Bears will open the season with three tight ends on the roster. While Gabe Reid is third on the depth chart at the position, he's also seen work at H-back during training camp and the preseason.

Therefore, Keith (Thump) Belton will be waived with the hope that he can be signed to the practice squad. Having Belton on hand will give the Bears an insurance policy until Bryan Johnson or Jason McKie are able to play or incase current starter Marc Edwards goes down.

With 11 offensive linemen still on the roster one will be cut. Anthony Oakley is the leading candidate to get the boot because he's worked with the third team throughout training camp.

At linebacker, no reserves had an outstanding preseason. Although Leon Joe is a great athlete, he's still not ready to contribute. Joe Odom has starting experience. Jeremy Cain can play the three linebacker spots and also long snap. Brendon Ayanbadejo was acquired in a trade for a reason, he's a great special teams player that can fit in the scheme if called upon.

Joe is a GM Jerry Angelo pick that didn't work the first time. Even though he's played better in round two, the improvement has not been enough to warrant a roster spot.

Rashied Davis and Jerrell Pippens will be the projects in the secondary, which means undrafted free agent Brandon McGowan will not make the team. The safety out of Maine has shown up on occasion, but with Todd Johnson and Chris Harris ahead of him it becomes a numbers game.

Other candidates when Cedric Benson's roster exemption ends.

If Carl Ford makes the team, the Bears would have six receivers on the roster after carrying four for the majority of last year. Ford averaged 16.6 yards on six receptions, but he's been involved on special teams and that's why he deserves further consideration.

Neither Marc Colombo nor Rob Droege made a good case to be the swing tackle. In the end, the time and money invested in Colombo will be the difference. Droege was an undrafted free agent that spent his rookie season on Injured Reserve. There is a good chance he could sneak under the radar and onto the practice squad.

Qasim Mitchell continues not to play up to his six-foot-6, 355-pound frame. At times he looks lost on the field, yet the Bears are waiting for the light to go on. He's likely to get an extension.

The Bears have a deep defensive tackle rotation. Starters Tommie Harris and Ian Scott are followed by reserves Terry Johnson and Alfonso Boone. Michael Haynes and Israel Idonije also have the ability to move inside. Darrell Campbell could be in jeopardy. He has the talent to play in the NFL, it's just a matter of getting back on track. A knee injury he suffered before the 2004 draft took him from a second round pick to an undrafted free agent.


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