By Bryan Dietzler
Update: The Bears just cut Jeremy Langford and Ben Braunecker (after this story was posted). Long snapper Jeff Overbaugh was also waived.
The Chicago Bears firmed up their 53-man roster yesterday and are set for the 2017 NFL season. There were some head scratching decisions made, but this happens every season when final cuts come. But this is the team the Bears felt would help get them to where they need to go. Now, all we can do is sit back and hope that they made all the right decisions.
Is this the roster that will help them win more games this year than they did last year? Did they make the right choices? Let’s take a quick look at who remains with a quick review of the Chicago Bears new 53-man roster.
Quarterback: Mike Glennon; Mark Sanchez; Mitchell Trubisky-No surprises here. Keeping Sanchez makes sense and Chicago let Connor Shaw go. He was hurt and for the Bears, keeping Sanchez made sense.
Running Back: Jordan Howard; Tarik Cohen; Jeremy Langford; Benny Cunningham-The Bears released Joshua Rounds and put Ka’Deem Carey on injured reserve. Keeping four running backs makes sense. The Bears should use Cunningham on special teams as a return specialist returning kickoffs. Chicago made some solid choices here.
Fullback: Michael Burton-It looks like the Bears are going to use a fullback this season. That is a great idea because it not only helps in the running game but helps add another pass protector in the backfield for Mike Glennon. Burton was the right choice.
Wide Receiver: Markus Wheaton; Kevin White; Kendall Wright; Joshua Bellamy; Deonte Thompson; -This position remains one of the weakest on the team. Maybe, or shall I say hopefully the Bears will do something about it after seeing who gets cut by other clubs this weekend. Thompson and Bellamy are head scratchers but the Bears must like their special teams ability. Tanner Gentry, a fan favorite, was a disappointing cut but he will be back.
Tight end: Dion Sims; Zach Miller: Adam Shaheen; Daniel Brown; Ben Braunecker-Keeping five tight ends on the roster has left some people asking what Chicago is thinking. But there is a method to their madness. There are three reasons why Chicago kept all five tight ends. The first is they had to add extra blockers to the roster. Keeping the five tells us that Chicago is going to need a lot of help in pass protection and some of these guys are better at blocking than the others. They can mix and match their better blockers with their better receivers and create more problems for opponents. This leads into the second reason why the Bears kept so many tight ends.
Chicago is going to run a lot of two tight end sets and, with the help they need at receiver considered, they will be throwing to their tight ends more. The Bears have some receiving talent among the five so keeping the extra receivers helps. Finally, keeping the five means that they don’t want to let any of them get away (common sense, right?). Tied in with that is the fact that Miller will probably not make it through the entire season so they are keeping his replacement on the roster. The only tight end from the preseason they didn’t keep was Mycole Pruitt.
Offensive Tackles: Bobby Massie; Tom Compton; Charles Leno, Jr.; Bradley Sowell-I am kind of concerned about the numbers here but what they did here makes sense. Hopefully, the Bears don’t suffer any injuries at the offensive tackle position this season.
Guards: Josh Sitton; Kyle Long-Luckily, Cody Whitehair and Hroniss Grasu can back up at guard but the Bears are still very thin at this position. They may need some help here at some point during the season. Letting William Poehls go was a head scratcher.
Center: Cody Whitehair; Hroniss Grasu-It’s going to be interesting to see what happens if Whitehair needs to play guard at some point. If Grasu must step in and start, will he be better than he was his rookie season? Remember, he missed last season so he is still not that experienced. This may end being a weak link on the line.
Defensive Linemen: Akiem Hicks: Jonathan Bullard; Roy Robertson-Harris; Mitch Unrein-There was a lot of underachieving talent at this position released Saturday. The Bears made the right choices here but I am still wondering about Unrein. He’s consistent but not spectacular. However, he might have been the better choice. Robertson-Harris will shine when given a chance.
Outside Linebackers: Leonard Floyd; Willie Young; Sam Acho; Pernell McPhee-Perhaps the biggest surprise here is that McPhee will ready for the season. That’s amazing! But how long will he last? The Bears stashed Lamarr Houston on injured reserve. Houston has a knee injury, and it’s not serious but he is done. It appears as if Chicago is going to give him some money and let him walk. What a sad ending to a troubling time for both the Bears and Houston.
Inside Linebacker: Jerrell Freeman; Christian Jones; Danny Trevathan; Nick Kwiatkoski-There aren’t any real surprises here. It’s still not known if Trevathan will be able to start the season but Kwiatkoski is more than capable of starting if it’s needed. There should be no worries if that happens.
Strong Safety: Quintin Demps: Deon Bush-Letting Harold Jones-Quartey go is a both a bit of a shock and a blessing. His starting experience, coupled with being a hard hitter will be missed but he was a liability in coverage. Bush still has a lot to learn. Let’s cross our fingers and hope that Demps doesn’t get injured this season. If he does, it will be another season of struggles at the strong safety spot.
Free Safety: Adrian Amos; Eddie Jackson; Deiondre’ Hall-The big question here is who will start? Will it be Amos or Jackson? The money should be put on Jackson be the starter. He’s a playmaker, a hitter and can create turnovers. The depth here is nice with Amos but Hall is a question mark. Can he contribute if it’s needed?
Cornerback: Kyle Fuller; Prince Amukamara; Sherrick McMannis; Marcus Cooper Sr.; Cre’Von LeBlanc; Bryce Callahan-The Bears kept all the best at this position and what happens here will be interesting to watch. LeBlanc and Callahan will keep competing for the nickel corner spot and LeBlanc will seal it after Callahan gets injured (a common theme). Hopefully, guys like Amukamara and Cooper will be able to stay upright all season. Finally, let’s see if Fuller can resurrect his NFL career. Will he break out or will he end up being a bust?
Specialists: Connor Barth; Pat O’Donnell; Jeff Overbaugh-Not much to talk about other than the fact they released kicker Roberto Aguayo.
The Bears did send some players to injured reserve. There was Houston who won’t be there or with the Bears that long. They added 2016 fifth round draft pick Jordan Morgan to the list with a shoulder problem and put Chris Prosinksi (hamstring), Ka’Deem Carey (wrist) and Cameron Meredith (knee) on IR as well.
As of this writing, the Bears hadn’t filled out their practice squad just yet but they did bring back the popular training camp favorite Gentry. They have signed running back Taquan Mizzell and wide receiver Tre McBride. Long snapper Andrew DePaola was added as well.
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