Predicting the Final Roster, Part II

The Chicago Bears can bring 80 players to training camp in Bourbonnais camp next month, but only 53 can make the final roster. So who will be left on the cutting room floor? Bear Report takes a closer look at the defense and predits who we'll see lining up against the Colts in the season-opener.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE (5)
Locked and Loaded:
Tommie Harris, Dusty Dvoracek, Anthony Adams, Israel Idonije, Marcus Harrison

Cutting Room Floor: Matt Toeaina

Analysis: Harris and Dvoracek could be one of the better D-tackle combinations in the league, but the two of them simply have to stay healthy this season. Adams is a solid run defender, while Harrison could see significant action in passing situations. Idonije looks to be making a permanent move inside, making Toeaina expendable even though he played well when called upon last year.

DEFENSIVE END (4)
Locked and Loaded:
Adewale Ogunleye, Alex Brown, Mark Anderson, Dan Bazuin

Cutting Room Floor: Ervin Baldwin, Joe Clermond, Gerard Lee, Nick Osborn

Analysis: Ogunleye had arguably his best season in a Bears uniform this past year, as he continues to be one of the most well-rounded D-ends in football. It appears as if Brown has taken back the starting job from Anderson, who is much better suited to be a sack specialist on third down like he was as a rookie in 2006. Bazuin still has a long way to go after spending his first year on injured reserve, but look for Baldwin to be stashed away on the practice squad and possibly get a shot if Bazuin continues to struggle.

LINEBACKER (6)
Locked and Loaded:
Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Hunter Hillenmeyer, Jamar Williams, Rod Wilson, Nick Roach

Cutting Room Floor: Michael Okwo, Darrell McClover, Joey LaRocque

Analysis: The starting unit is set, as Urlacher is a former Defensive Player of the Year, Briggs has been to three straight Pro Bowls, and Hillenmeyer continues to get better each and every season. Williams will be the first off the bench at all three positions, while Wilson and Roach are going to be major contributors on special teams. Okwo might be the odd man out after missing his rookie year on IR, so he and LaRocque, one of the five seventh-round draft picks, could both end up on the practice squad.

CORNERBACK (5)
Locked and Loaded:
Charles Tillman, Nathan Vasher, Corey Graham, Trumaine McBride, Zack Bowman

Cutting Room Floor: Ricky Manning Jr., Trey Brown, Leslie Majors

Analysis: Tillman and Vasher are a terrific pair of cover corners when operating at full capacity, and the secondary was never the same last year after Vasher suffered that nasty groin pull. Second-year defenders Graham and McBride have both leapfrogged Manning on the depth chart, so look for the veteran nickelback to be sent packing very soon. Even fifth-rounder Bowman has been getting more reps than Manning, plus the rookie's ability on special teams should help him survive the final cuts.

SAFETY (5)
Locked and Loaded:
Mike Brown, Brandon McGowan, Danieal Manning, Kevin Payne, Craig Steltz

Cutting Room Floor: Josh Gattis, Leonard Peters

Analysis: Brown hasn't been able to stay on the field consistently in any of the last four seasons, but it's impossible to ignore the impact he has on this defense when he's back there. McGowan is firmly entrenched in the starting lineup, as Manning is being converted into the third cornerback in nickel situations. Payne and Steltz got plenty of work in the offseason program at the strong and free safety positions, so that versatility is a nice luxury to have with young players.

SPECIALISTS (3)
Locked and Loaded:
Robbie Gould, Brad Maynard, Patrick Mannelly

Cutting Room Floor: Shane Longest, Zacrey Atterberry

Analysis: Gould is now the highest-paid kicker in the NFL, and he deserves it since he's the most accurate field-goal artist in franchise history. Maynard continues to be one of the best in the business and is an expert at pinning his opponents inside the 20-yard line. Mannelly seems to never make a mistake and puts his long snaps on the money time after time.

To go back and read Part I of this story and see who JC thinks will make the final 53-man roster on offense, Click Here.

John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.


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