Few expect the Bears to open against the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 13 with the identical 53-man roster that was in place at the close of business on Saturday. The changes, though, are speculative-only at this point as the Bears continue exploring available options, meaning trades and additional cuts are decided possibilities.
Several inclusions in the final-for-now roster were notable.
Veteran Willie Young played his way back from a season-ending Achilles tear and onto a roster emblematic of the Bears’ new 3-4 defense: nine linebackers, including both starting defensive ends (Young, Jared Allen) from last season. Young’s value, however, may be greatest with a team operating a 4-3 defense that utilizes him as a hand-down defensive end.
Young’s playing time will be problematic in the current depth chart, and the Bears reportedly offered Young in trades prior to the cutdown deadline, with no takers. Because he doesn’t play special teams, Young’s long-term spot with the Bears is open questionable, although 10-sack pass rushers will always find work in the NFL.
The Bears currently stand with just two defensive lineman – rookie Eddie Goldman, Jarvis Jenkins – in excess of 300 pounds. They are keeping just five down-linemen for their front three, with Jeremiah Ratliff unavailable for September until he serves his three-game suspension.
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Coach John Fox has said repeatedly that the preponderance of nickel personnel packages make Allen, Young and Lamarr Houston de facto “linemen” as well as rush linebackers Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho.
With the required roster reduction behind them, and before the Bears make additional changes in the form of pickups from other teams’ discards, a look at how the 2015 roster stands:
Comment: Clausen’s recent concussion history and Fales’ play vs. Cleveland make three QB’s necessary.
Running back (4)
Comment: May be best RB group since Thomas Jones/Cedric Benson/Adrian Peterson.
Wide receiver (6)
Comment: Kevin White injury scrambles the overall, injuries require added depth.
Tight end (3)
Comment: Offense demanding TE’s who can block and catch equally well.
Offensive line (9)
Charles Leno Jr.
Comment: RT issues remain unsolved but quality OL-men hard to find.
Comment: Jeremiah Ratliff suspension, Goldman concussion create concerns with untested group.
Comment: Youth will be served; Timu fortifies special teams, too.
Comment: Bears need Fuller to play like a No. 1 draft pick in scheme stressing “man” coverage.
Comment: Still a position that thwarts Bears’ efforts to settle.
Comment: Bears didn’t bring K or P into camp; hopefully LS issues resolves.