Bears

Bears 53-man roster projection: Eddy Pineiro makes the cut 

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USA Today

Bears 53-man roster projection: Eddy Pineiro makes the cut 

Not much will change in the Bears’ evaluation of their own players between Sunday afternoon and Saturday’s 3 p.m. CT deadline to cut their roster down to 53 players. With over a month of practices and games to evaluate the guys on their team, the focus of Ryan Pace and the Bears’ decision-makers from Thursday night’s preseason finale through Saturday afternoon will be on the waiver wire feeding frenzy that comes with 31 other teams needing to trim their rosters from 90 players to 53. 

So barring an injury or a massively good or bad performance Thursday night at Solider Field, this is our projection of what the Bears’ 53-man roster will look like when its unveiled this coming Saturday. The caveat here: There can be waiver wire additions that’ll alter what it looks like when the Bears begin practicing for their opener against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. A few positions to watch there: Tight end, swing tackle, outside linebacker, cornerback and — yes — kicker. 

One other thing to note here: Don’t overrate players the Bears cut and fret about them making the practice squad or not. Those kind of moves rarely happen — for a team to claim a player off waivers on cut-down weekend, they must keep him on their 53-man roster. So for the Ryan Nalls or Ian Buntings or Clifton Ducks of the Bears roster, there’s a chance they lose those players by cutting them — but there’s a much greater chance they’re able to sign them to their own practice squad. 

Anyways, on to the roster: 

QUARTERBACK (2): Mitch Trubisky, Chase Daniel
Cut: Tyler Bray

Daniel has not had a good preseason. He’s also not going anywhere, and will again be the Bears’ backup quarterback in 2019. 

RUNNING BACK (4): David Montgomery, Mike Davis, Tarik Cohen, Kerrith Whyte Jr.
Cut: Ryan Nall, Josh Caldwell

Nall had an impressive 69-yard run in Saturday’s preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts, but the Bears gave Whyte an extended look early in the game. While he didn’t stand out from a production stand point (four carries, eight yards; one catch, seven yards) his speed is evident, and that alone could be enough for him to make the team. His kickoff return ability, too, provides an extra boost for his chances of making the roster. 

WIDE RECEIVER (6): Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, Cordarrelle Patterson, Riley Ridley, Javon Wims
Cut: Marvin Hall, Thomas Ives, Tanner Gentry, Jordan Williams-Lambert, Joe Walker

This group has felt decided for a little while now, with Hall fading after a strong start to training camp while Wims continued to stack good practices. No receiver stood out much during Saturday’s game. 

Notably, though: Don’t be surprised if Wims is active for the Bears’ opener against the Packers and Riley Ridley is not. Wims has averaged about 10 special teams snaps per game this preseason, while Ridley is averaging a little over five. 

TIGHT END (4): Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen, Ben Braunecker, Bradley Sowell
Cut: Dax Raymond, Ian Bunting, Ellis Richardson, Jesper Horsted

This is a tough call here. Raymond has done some good things as a blocker during preseason play, though he hasn’t produced as a pass-catcher. Bunting has been the opposite: He had a 25-yard reception Saturday but hasn’t shown as much as a blocker. The Bears should be able to get both Bunting and Raymond to their practice squad if they don’t make the roster. 

While Sowell hasn’t shown much as a receiver, coach Matt Nagy preached patience with his move from offensive line to tight end, which felt like good news for his chances of securing a roster spot

OFFENSIVE LINE (8): Charles Leno Jr., Cody Whitehair, James Daniels, Kyle Long, Bobby Massie, Ted Larsen, Rashaad Coward, Alex Bars
Cut: TJ Clemmings (potentially to IR), Jordan McCray, Blake Blackmar, Sam Mustipher, Marquez Tucker, Cornelius Lucas, Joe Lowery

Clemmings might’ve been on his way to a roster spot before he suffered a serious-looking leg injury during Saturday’s game.  It’ll be interesting to see how much tackle Bars plays — and how well he plays it — during Thursday’s preseason finale (if you’re looking for something to watch for, this is it). His ability to play both guard and tackle puts him squarely on the Bears’ roster, with Coward (presuming he won’t need to go on injured reserve with the elbow injury he sustained in preseason Week 2) a backup tackle and Larsen a backup interior guy. 

So this leaves the Bears with 24 offensive players and 26 defensive players, but if general manager Ryan Pace is serious about keeping the best 53, this feels like the way to go. 

DEFENSIVE LINE (6): Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Bilal Nichols, Roy Robertson-Harris, Jonathan Bullard, Nick Williams
Cut: Jonathan Harris, Abdullah Anderson, Jalen Dalton, Daryle Banfield

Previously, we’ve had Williams on the outside looking in of the roster. But he had a strong game Saturday against the Colts, and was on the roster a year ago despite only playing in two games. We’ll put him on for now, though if the Bears need to clear a roster spot for someone acquired on waivers — like a tackle, outside linebacker or cornerback — he could be back on the bubble given the depth ahead of him. 

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (5): Khalil Mack, Leonard Floyd, Aaron Lynch, Isaiah Irving, James Vaughters
Cut: Kylie Fitts, Chuck Harris, Matt Betts

Vaughters notched strip-sacks in each of the Bears’ last two games, and with some flexibility in carrying only 24 offensive players, he gets a roster spot here. He’s been an active participant in special teams during the preseason, too, leading the Bears with 42 ‘teams snaps. 

Irving hasn’t flashed much and could be a mildly surprising cut, though we’ll keep him on here without a better option emerging. Still, the Bears could look to address their depth behind Mack/Floyd/Lynch on the waiver wire. 

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (5): Danny Trevathan, Roquan Smith, Nick Kwiatkoski, Joel Iyiegbuniwe, Kevin Pierre-Louis
Cut: Josh Woods, Jameer Thurman

Tough call here. Kwiatkoski secured his spot on the roster with a standout game Saturday, but there’s murkiness behind him. Pierre-Louis paired with Kwiatkoski in the first half — not Iyiegbuniwe — so we’ll put him on the roster, given that and his expected special teams contributions (though he’s only played five special teams snaps this preseason). But no Bears player played more special teams snaps than Iyiegbuniwe last year, and the former fourth-round pick keeps his spot based on that work. Woods has played well this preseason and would be a prime practice squad candidate, and might be one of the more difficult cuts the Bears make. 

CORNERBACKS (5): Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara, Buster Skrine, Kevin Toliver II, Duke Shelley
Cut: Stephen Denmark, John Franklin III, Clifton Duck, Michael Joseph

Saturday was a rough game for Franklin and Joseph, and we didn’t see Duck — who’s been productive in practice and preseasons games — until the second half. The waiver wire could produce a sixth cornerback for the Bears here, because after a promising start the Bears’ group of young, undrafted corners has slipped a bit over the last two games. Denmark hasn’t played and could be an injured reserve candidate, though the Bears probably wouldn’t have a problem getting their seventh-round developmental athletic project on their practice squad. 

SAFETIES (5): Eddie Jackson, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Deon Bush, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Sherrick McManis 
Cut: Doyin Jibowu, Jonathon Mincy

Bush had a 91-yard pick six on Saturday, and has been one of the Bears’ best players during 2019’s preseason. 

SPECIALISTS (3): Eddy Pineiro (PK), Pat O’Donnell (P), Patrick Scales (LS)
Cut: John Wirtel (LS)

For the first time in these roster projections, we have the Bears keeping a kicker on their roster. Pineiro’s 58-yard field goal was a standout moment in the kicking battle, and the timing of it — after a confidence-boosting chat with Nagy — was notable. Pineiro said he feels like he’s a part of the team and doesn’t have to concern himself with who’s getting field goal attempts now that he’s the only kicker on the roster. 

So viewing Pineiro’s 58-yard field goal in a vacuum would be a little unfair. If this is what he can do when he’s the only kicker on a roster, then the Bears will have no qualms about giving him a shot in the regular season. He has one more game at Soldier Field to bolster his case, but barring a disaster on Thursday night, he’ll not only survive Saturday’s cut, but Sunday’s waiver-wire frenzy as well. 

'You said you were good. You lied to us'—Understanding the harsh reaction to Bears, Mitch Trubisky struggles​​​​​​​

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USA TODAY

'You said you were good. You lied to us'—Understanding the harsh reaction to Bears, Mitch Trubisky struggles​​​​​​​

John Fox was right as far as looking ahead to how things can or might unfold for an NFL team (or quarterback): “Understate, overproduce,” was Fox’s operating mantra.

Why that matters or comes to mind at all is a step-back sense of what’s going on around the Bears and quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Their struggles through two games have loosed waves of bad feelings about at least the offensive portion of local professional football.

Much of that was not anything that he or his coach probably anticipated. But perhaps they should have, given various utterances, all offseason led much of BearsNation were led to believe by what coach Matt Nagy was putting forward.

Plus some long and painful pieces of Chicago sports history, Bears and otherwise.

Consider: Nagy this offseason frequently referred to where his quarterback and offense were as “2.0,” meaning the next step up from what was a respectable first year for players in Nagy’s offense, and for Nagy as a first-time, first-year Bears head coach. That said, “good things coming.”

So when “2.0” turned out to be alarmingly close to the yards-per-pass-play through two games, the negative response shouldn’t have been surprising, nor its intensity level. Call it the “You told us you were good! You lied!” reaction. More on the history of this psychological scarring shortly.

Fair to Trubisky? No, but….

None of it is necessarily fair whatsoever to a young man playing the most difficult single position in all of sports, who is clearly a leader and a worker and is an obvious favorite of his teammates and gives the degree of effort that traditionally endears athletes to Chicago, regardless of sport.

And Trubisky has acquitted himself very well at the most crucial points in two of his last three games, a huge positive looking ahead and the kind of in-the-clutch thing that is at the core of real success.

“The thing we’ve got to keep in mind here,” Nagy said on Thursday, “Mitchell ended up, at the end of the season against Philadelphia, when everything was on the line, that kid took us right down the field and gave us a chance to win. Okay? I think we all agree with that.

“He was put in a position this last game to take us down the field with 31 seconds to go and [he] put us in position to win.

“Depending on what went on in the game before that, did he have that opportunity to do it? He did. So let’s figure out – I need to – where are we at.

“He has it in him at the end of the game."

Understanding the scarred “You lied to us!” psyche

Part of all this swirling negativity lies in Nagy’s default-setting positivity: His daily updates never include trashing a player, and he appears at times to be making excuses or covering for Trubisky.

Part of this also traces back to Ryan Pace trading significant draft capital to be sure of getting Trubisky in the 2017 draft. Pace’s statement that Trubisky portended greatness, more so than either Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson. Regardless of the outcome, Pace did make the overall right move, leaving nothing to chance to get his guy. (Whether this was THE guys was the concern. And still is, although not really the point here.)

In any case, there’s a deeper psyche issue that neither Nagy nor Trubisky could reasonably be expected to understand. Call it a form of betrayed trust. Call it: “You said you were good and we believed you! You lied to us!”

It didn’t start with the ’69 Cubs, but that may have been an accelerant. Even the ’85 Bears brushed up against it.

Recall that in 1983 the “Winning Ugly” White Sox won the AL West by 20 games. 20. 2-zero.(“You said you were good…”) They then proceeded to lose in the ALCS to Baltimore in four games, scoring 0, 1 and 0 runs in the three losses. (“You lied!”)

Come forward to 1984. Cubs blast out to a 2-0 NLCS lead, outscoring San Diego 17-2 in the two games (“You said you were good…”), then fade to black with three straight losses, the last two despite leading in each. (“You lied!”)

A year later Mike Ditka made liberal use of the “nobody believes in us but us” mantra even as his Bears were running away and hiding with a 12-0 start.

Even after that, Chicago paranoia reigned. Actor and Chicago native Joe Mantegna told this writer that even during the Super Bowl he just KNEW something would go wrong. So when Walter Payton fumbled on the second play and the Patriots recovered and kicked a field goal to lead 3-0, Mantegna said he proceeded to go around the corner into another room because he just couldn’t watch but still wanted to listen to the game. (He did come back in the TV room after halftime).

What the Cubs are going through right now is another booster shot of “You said you were good! You lied” juice. They win that World Series in 2016, Joe Maddon was deified (“You said you were good…”), then have proceeded to slide, to the point now where they are closer to falling all the way out of the postseason, which would represent a capstone “You lied!”

Belief betrayed

BearsNation was all in on Nagy from the beginning, with his foundation in offense, coaching tree (Andy Reid) and just the fact that he wasn’t John Fox. That was taken to new levels by 12 wins and an upbeat persona, creative offbeat plays, Club Dub, all the rest. The buy-in was there.

Now Nagy may be finding out what Fox and Dowell Loggains saw in first-year Trubisky, that he just wasn’t overly accurate down the field, and conservative game plans may be required until Trubisky grows to another level, if that happens.

Underlying the Trubisky brouhaha right now is the sentiment that faded for some last year, that the Bears had taken leave of their personnel senses when they traded up to be sure they got Trubisky in the 2017 draft. How strong was that feeling? Trubisky went to a Bulls game not long after the draft and was booed.

Trubisky had an obvious major hand in the Bears winning 12 games last year (“You said you were good…”), although the defense had an exponentially bigger hand in that and in Nagy, an offense-based coach, winning coach of the year honors with an offense ranked in the 20s.

Then Trubisky turns up on the cover of Chicago Magazine with a headline “The Bears Are Back” (“You said you were good…”) and on the story inside, the headline “Mitch Trubisky Grows Up” (“You said you were really good…”).

So when Trubisky bumbles to a combined passer rating of 65.0 through two games and looks to be turning out to be well short of “really good,” the reaction almost predictably has been tinged with that distant whiff of betrayed trust: “…You lied! You’re NOT good!).

Fair or not, Chicago has been through this sort of thing before.

 

Bears Week 3 injury report: Eddie Jackson, Trey Burton limited in practice

Bears Week 3 injury report: Eddie Jackson, Trey Burton limited in practice

The Chicago Bears have a favorable matchup Monday night against the Redskins in a game that could be just what the offense needs to get back on track. Washington will be the worst defense Mitch Trubisky has faced (by far) this season and should present opportunities for big plays in both the passing and running games.

But as is the case every week in the NFL, injuries could play a part in the outcome. And the Bears have a few notable names on their injury report.

The most notable is DL Bilal Nichols, who's expected to miss the game with a broken hand. Trey Burton was limited in practice once again with a groin injury, but he should be good to go Monday night. He returned to action in Week 2 and played 26 of 60 snaps on offense.

Kyle Long (hip), Eddie Jackson (shoulder) and Eddie Goldman (oblique) were also limited Thursday, but none appear at risk of missing the game.

The long week should help the Bears climb closer to full health with the exception of Nichols.