Hoge: Breaking down Bears' 53-man roster, moves to come


After much debate, the Bears' initial 53-man roster is officially in -- and subject to change. 

Bears general manager Ryan Pace and his personnel staff made some interesting decisions, especially at inside linebacker and cornerback. More moves are sure to come, and the practice squad will be set Wednesday.

With that in mind, here's a breakdown of the initial 53-man roster, with thoughts on changes that could still be coming. 

Quarterback (3): Andy Dalton, Justin Fields, Nick Foles

No one should be surprised that Nick Foles is still on the roster. If he hasn't been traded by now, he's unlikely to be traded.

Running back (3): David Montgomery, Damien Williams, Khalil Herbert

The notable cut here was Ryan Nall, but he could end up back on the practice squad, which would give the Bears some depth on special teams. 

Wide Receivers (5): Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, Marquise Goodwin, Damiere Byrd, Rodney Adams

Shoutout to Rodney Adams, who truly earned this roster spot. Former fourth round pick Riley Ridley was waived as a result, but he had been given plenty of time to develop and didn't provide much special teams value. Now we'll see if Adams can push for playing time on offense. 

Tight Ends (5): Cole Kmet, Jimmy Graham, Jesse James, J.P. Holtz, Jesper Horsted

Horsted may have secured one of the last roster spots with his three-touchdown performance against the Titans Saturday. Maybe it's a tad surprising both Horsted and Holtz were kept, but they both have special teams value and are very different offensive players. Holtz is more of a fullback that can be worked into special packages. I still wonder if Horsted might end up back on the practice squad at some point after this initial flurry of movement when it would have been tough to keep him unclaimed on waivers.


Offensive Lineman (10): Jason Peters, Cody Whitehair, Sam Mustipher, James Daniels, Germain Ifedi, Elijah Wilkinson, Teven Jenkins, Larry Borom, Alex Bars, Lachavious Simmons

Jenkins' inclusion on the initial 53-man roster is important because it indicates the Bears believe he can contribute at some point this season. Had he been put on Injured Reserve before Tuesday, the first-round pick would not have been eligible to return. Jenkins can now shift to IR, clearing a roster spot and allowing him to come back later in the season. 

As for the rest of the offensive line, there are still questions at tackle, but Ifedi's strong conclusion to the 2020 season at right tackle should alleviate some of those concerns. The interior is pretty good and there's a decent mix of youth and versatility among the backups. 

Defensive Lineman (5): Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Bilal Nichols, Angelo Blackson, Khyiris Tonga

If Ryan Pace has a position group that he nails every year, it's this one. Blackson appears to be this year's random veteran addition on the defensive line that will have an impact all season. And for a seventh round pick, Tonga made an impact in the preseason. 

Outside Linebackers (4): Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn, Jeremiah Attaochu, Trevis Gipson

If there's one under-the-radar player to watch on this roster it's Gipson. He has shown subtle signs of breaking out after spending his rookie year transitioning from a five-technique to an outside linebacker. Gipson looks the part and figures to get playing time as Robert Quinn is unlikely to be three-down player. Don't be surprised if Gipson becomes Pace's latest fifth-round home run. 

Inside Linebackers (7): Roquan Smith, Danny Trevathan, Christian Jones, Alec Ogletree, Joel Iyiegbuniwe, Josh Woods, Caleb Johnson

Holy #BearsSpecialTeams. The Bears did well to boost their inside linebacker depth with Jones and Ogletree, but Iyiegbuniwe and Woods are still valued enough by special teams coordinator Chris Tabor to be kept around. Personally, I'm surprised they both made it. Johnson was often the first downfield in punt coverage -- a good sign -- but his tackling needs to improve. He showed a knack for finding the football, which is likely why he was kept. 

Cornerback (4): Jaylon Johnson, Kindle Vildor, Duke Shelley, Xavier Crawford

This is the position most likely to change in the next few days. First off, the Bears need more than four corners so someone will be added. Second, this looks like a thin, unproven group that is going to have to rely heavily on the pass rush to have success. Cornerback was the biggest question coming into training camp and it remains that way going into the regular season. 


Safety (4): Eddie Jackson, Tashaun Gipson, Sr., DeAndre Houston-Carson, Deon Bush

This was the easiest position to predict throughout training camp and there were absolutely no surprises. I believe DHC and Bush are entering their 38th season as the Bears' backup safeties. 

Kicker (1): Cairo Santos

It will be interesting to see if rookie kicker Brian Johnson is claimed by another team because he sure looked like a legitimate NFL kicker throughout training camp and the preseason. If he goes unclaimed, look for the Bears to sign him to practice squad. It's a good idea to have two kickers in a pandemic. 

Punter (1): Pat O'Donnell

O'Donnell is entering his eighth season in Chicago and seemingly gets a little better every season. 

Long Snapper (1): Patrick Scales

Scales spent time on the COVID-19 list and dealt with a minor ankle injury in the preseason, which brought some much needed attention on the importance of a healthy long-snapper. For the first time since Tabor has been the Bears' special teams coordinator, the Bears will have the same kicker, holder and snapper as the previous season.