Roster Analysis: Going Over the 53

The Chicago Bears established their 53-man roster Saturday, and general manager Jerry Angelo could not have been happy. Two recent third-round picks were jettisoned, as were two former starters.

Quarterback

Survived: Jay Cutler, Todd Collins, Caleb Hanie
Set Free: Dan LeFevour

While Cutler's position as the starter was never in play, Collins has likely overtaken Hanie as the primary backup thanks to Hanie's preseason shoulder injury and Collins playing well in the exhibition finale. LeFevour never looked like an NFL quarterback, and even though it appears the Bears wasted a sixth-round pick on the local product, he probably gets a spot on the practice squad.

Running Back

Survived: Matt Forte, Chester Taylor, Kahlil Bell, Garrett Wolfe
Set Free: Eddie Williams

Forte and Taylor are both going to be used liberally in Mike Martz's system, with Forte still being the lead ball carrier but Taylor working his way onto the field every third series or thereabouts. Bell outplayed Wolfe offensively during the offseason program, training camp and the preseason, so Wolfe made the final cut solely because of his ability on special teams.

Wide Receiver

Survived: Devin Hester, Johnny Knox, Devin Aromashodu, Earl Bennett, Rashied Davis
Set Free: Juaquin Iglesias, Freddie Barnes, Greg Mathews

Hester, Knox and Aromashodu are all going to be on the field quite a bit since Martz employs as many three-receiver sets as any play caller in the league, so while Hester and Knox are technically the starters, Aromashodu doesn't deserve to be called a backup. Iglesias may have been the toughest cut for the coaching staff to make, as the 2009 third rounder really played well in the offseason program but became a victim of the numbers game once he injured a quad in training camp.

Tight End

Survived: Greg Olsen, Brandon Manumaleuna, Desmond Clark, Kellen Davis
Set Free: Richard Angulo

The tight ends better be versatile for the Bears this season, as they have will also be asked to line up at wideout, H-back and even fullback – Chicago kept no classic fullbacks – throughout 2010. While we haven't seen much of Manumaleuna and his lineman-like blocking yet, Olsen, Clark and Davis all caught the ball very well when given opportunities in the preseason.

Offensive Line

Survived: Olin Kreutz, Roberto Garza, Lance Louis, Chris Williams, Frank Omiyale, Johan Asiata, Kevin Shaffer, J'Marcus Webb
Set Free: Josh Beekman, James Marten, Levi Horn, Tim Walter, Edwin Williams

Offensive line coach Mike Martz established his starting five as early as Family Night at Soldier Field, a week or so before the first exhibition contest, and their ability to jell as a quintet may be the key to Chicago's entire season. The organization soured on Beekman quickly and finally decided to cut the cord altogether, meaning Garza would now slide over to center should something happen to Kreutz.

Defensive Tackle

Survived: Tommie Harris, Anthony Adams, Marcus Harrison, Matt Toeaina, Henry Melton
Set Free: Mick Williams

Melton makes the final cut because the Bears desperately need a backup three technique behind Harris, although look for both Harrison and Toeaina to get the call on game day for now because each can play nose guard, too. As for Williams, while he was a late addition to the roster midway through training camp, he flashed some ability in the preseason and may get an invitation to the practice squad.

Defensive End

Survived: Julius Peppers, Mark Anderson, Israel Idonije, Corey Wootton
Set Free: Jarron Gilbert, Barry Turner

Anderson seems to have won the starting job opposite Peppers, meaning Idonije will come off the bench, but both Anderson and Idonije should play a great deal since this team rotates three ends most of the time – just don't expect Peppers to get too many breathers. Cutting Gilbert makes general manager Jerry Angelo look bad, as the pool jumper was the franchise's top pick in the draft just two Aprils ago.

Linebacker

Survived: Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher, Pisa Tinoisamoa, Nick Roach, Hunter Hillenmeyer, Brian Iwuh
Set Free: Tim Shaw, Kevin Malast, Kelvin Smith

Injuries have been a problem at the position during the preseason, and since Roach is still on the mend following a minor knee scope, look for Tinoisamoa to start Week 1 alongside multiple Pro Bowlers Briggs and Urlacher. Iwuh was able to do something Shaw never could and earned a roster spot as a result: He showed he could play defense in addition to being a terror on special teams.

Cornerback

Survived: Zack Bowman, Charles Tillman, Corey Graham, Tim Jennings, D.J. Moore, Joshua Moore
Set Free: Woodny Turenne, Cornelius Brown

Both Bowman and Tillman were never threatened for their starting jobs, although the depth behind them is questionable and nobody truly stood out as a reliable No. 3 option. Graham and D.J. Moore have been battling for the job at nickel back, and despite the fact that Graham has some experience and is the more physical player, Moore appears to have endeared himself to coach Lovie Smith.

Safety

Survived: Chris Harris, Danieal Manning, Major Wright, Craig Steltz, Josh Bullocks
Set Free: Al Afalava, Quentin Scott, Aaron Webster

Another defensive position group devastated by injuries throughout training camp and the preseason, even if most of them were relatively minor, the Bears again look shaky at safety despite offseason efforts to overhaul the entire depth chart. Afalava started 13 games as a rookie but still found himself on the cutting-room floor as a second-year pro, suggesting that Wright needs to make an impact right away.

Specialists

Survived: Robbie Gould, Brad Maynard, Patrick Mannelly
Set Free: None

Gould missed two field goals – one blocked, one off the upright – and Maynard got three punts blocked in the preseason, plus Mannelly sat out one exhibition contest with a shoulder problem, but the Bears still figure to be outstanding in the kicking game and didn't bother with any real competition at any of these three spots.


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John Crist is the Publisher of BearReport.com, a Heisman Trophy voter 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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