Bears cutdown to 53-man roster reveals Fox, Pace 'traits'


Bears cutdown to 53-man roster reveals Fox, Pace 'traits'

Bears GM Ryan Pace and coach John Fox are still in the shakedown period of their Chicago tenures, the time when tendencies, preferences and other operating philosophies become apparent. With the first edition of “final” roster reductions (waivers, contracts terminated, suspension), from 75 to 53 players, one or two Fox/Pace traits suggested themselves.

For one, they are not ego-wedded to “their guys,” players with connections to them or their staffs from the past. Among the roster trims made official before Saturday’s mandated 3 p.m. deadline were a player signed by Pace this offseason projected to be a starting inside linebacker – Mason Foster – and a quarterback prospect – Zac Dysert – who played for Fox and coordinator Adam Gase in Denver.

And the Bears will not hesitate to roll dice on unproven undrafted rookies – linebacker John Timu – over presumably safer veterans (Foster).

[MORE: While Bears held on to football, they just didn’t do enough with it]

The exact level of draft quality remains to play out when games start to count, but for just the second time in the past 10 years – but the second in the last three years – the entire Bears class was incorporated into the 53-man roster.

Expect the 2015 Bears roster to remain fluid through Opening Day, the trading deadline and possibly beyond. Teams routinely are in constant search of upgrades and Pace has made it abundantly clear that the Bears would be aggressive once roster cutdowns made possible upgrades available from other teams’ castoffs.

In addition to defensive lineman Jeremiah Ratliff being placed on the reserve/suspended list, the following players were removed from the Bears’ final roster as of late Saturday:

LB Jonathan Anderson: Great showing vs. Cleveland should land him on practice squad, or with Browns.

LB David Bass: One of the many 4-3 speed rushers trying to make the switch to an edge player in the 3-4. Not enough impact moments at a position with better options (Sam Acho, Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, Pernell McPhee, Willie Young).

QB Zac Dysert: The play of David Fales in the win over Cleveland made Fales arguably too valuable to cut with the hope of slipping him onto the practice squad. What Dysert’s brief stop in Chicago did, though, was give Bears a close-up look at a potential emergency quarterback.

LB Mason Foster: Signed by Pace and the Bears in March, Foster had moments as a backup inside ‘backer but did not flash enough for a fifth-year player. The impact plays of Timu in particular, with his value on special teams, made Foster expendable.

OL Michael, Ola: Ola started 12 games at four different positions in 2014, a versatility standard few players can match and teams covet. But Ola struggled throughout camp and was never even in the discussion for solving the problems at right tackle.

TE Dante Rosario: The late-preseason trade for Khari Lee, with Fox’s description of Lee as a good in-line blocker, portended Rosario’s exit, particularly after Rosario had a dropped pass and penalties on consecutive plays in the loss at Cincinnati.

NT Terry Williams: Swamp Monster had a creditable game in the shutout of the Cleveland Browns, and it would surprise no one if another 3-4 team (like the Browns) found space for him. The move by the Bears stands as a statement that they expect Eddie Goldman to be back from his concussion sooner rather than later. It also signals what coaches thought of how Will Sutton has performed at the spot, which also has Ego Ferguson available, and Jeremiah Ratliff should be back from his foot injury by the time his three-game suspension is served.

[NBC SHOP: Buy Bears Training Camp gear

Other cuts:

S Qumain Black

G Conor Boffeli

DE David Carter

WR A.J. Cruz

DL Brandon Dunn

CB Jacoby Glenn

S Anthony Jefferson

WR Rashad Lawrence

G Tyler Moore

TE Bear Pascoe

TE Gannon Sinclair

WR Ify Umodu

LB Matthew Wells

LB Kyle Woestmann

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Sunday's game against Tom Brady and the Patriots will be a tough test for the Bears, but it looks like they're going to receive a big break.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't travel with the Patriots to Chicago and is "highly unlikely" to play Sunday.

Avoiding Gronkowski, who is one of Brady's favorite targets, would be a huge break for the Bears' defense. In six games this season, the tight end has 26 receptions for 405 yards and a touchdown; in 14 games last season, Gronkowski had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.

Gronkowski has not officially been ruled out yet, though time is running out for the Patriots to make a decision.

Meanwhile, Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday despite dealing with an ankle injury. Between having Mack on the field and Gronkowski off of it, good news keeps coming for the Bears' defense.

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

USA Today Sports Images

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

There’s, probably, only one position in sports that can match the you-had-one-job scrutiny of a placekicker attempting a critical field goal late in a football game. As in: If you make the kick, it was expected; if you miss it, well, you didn’t do the one thing you were brought on to do. 

The comparison here is a closer in baseball. The expectation is whoever is called upon with a one-to-three-run lead in the ninth inning will convert the save and win his team the game. 

But when a closer blows a save and is in the spotlight during baseball’s regular season, there’s always a game the next day or, at worst, in two days. The immediacy and pace of a Major League Baseball team’s schedule lends itself to closers having to “flush” a bad outing and move on to the next one, since it might be tomorrow. 

For Bears kicker Cody Parkey, though, he’s had to wait a week until he gets his next “meaningful” chance at making a field goal after missing a game-winning 53-yard attempt last weekend against the Miami Dolphins. But moving on from a critical missed kick has never, and is not, a problem for the fifth-year veteran. 

“(It takes) five minutes,” Parkey said. “You kick the ball, and if it doesn’t go in you’re not going to sit there and cry on the field, you’re going to continue to move on with your life. I don’t think there’s really much to it other than knowing you’re going to have to kick another one sometime throughout the season, next game, in the next week, you never know. You stay ready so you’ll be ready for the next week.”

Not allowing those missed kicks to fester is an important trait for a placekicker to possess. What helps Parkey quickly work through his misses is focusing on having a good week of kicking in practice, and also an even-keel mindset that’s been instilled in him since a young age. 

“I think I’ve always been pretty mellow,” Parkey said. “At a young age, my coaches told me never let the highs get to high, never let the lows get too low. And I’ve kind of taken that to heart. If I miss a game winner, make a game winner, I’m going to have the same demeanor. I’m just going to be super chill and knowing it’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun, we’re supposed to go out there and try our best. I put in a lot of work and I try my best on the field.”

That’s something, too, that special teams coach Chris Tabor sees in Parkey. 

“He's always been like that,” Tabor said. “He hit a good ball, his line was just off. In his career going in he was 7-of-8 over 50 yards. I'll be honest with you, I thought he was going to make it. And next time we have that situation, I know he will make it.” 

Age is just a number

Sunday will mark the 6th time in Tom Brady’s career that the 41-year-old has faced a head coach younger than him, but the first time it’ll be a coach other than Miami’s Adam Gase (who’s 40). Brady is 3-2 against Gase’s Dophins. 

Matt Nagy, meanwhile, is also 40. Brady just missed playing Kyle Shanahan (38) and Sean McVay (32), facing the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams in 2016, a year before both those youthful coaches were hired. 

Meanwhile, the youngest player on the Bears — 21-year-old Roquan Smith — was three years old when Brady made his unassuming NFL debut on Nov. 23, 2000. 

They said it

A couple of amusing one-liners out of Halas Hall this week…

Nagy, when it was brought to his attention that Mitch Trubisky (105.6) has a better passer rating than Brady (98.2), chuckled: “You want to say that one more time?” 

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, when asked if he’d ever heard of “Baby Gronk” Adam Shaheen: “(long pause)… Sometimes.”