Bears

Bears roster will change, but for now, some notable names remain

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Bears roster will change, but for now, some notable names remain

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.

[MORE: Bears cutdown to 53-man roster reveals Fox, Pace 'traits']

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:

Offense (25)

Quarterback (3)

Jay Cutler

Jimmy Clausen

David Fales

Comment: Clausen’s recent concussion history and Fales’ play vs. Cleveland make three QB’s necessary.

Running back (4)

Matt Forte

Jacquizz Rodgers

Jeremy Langford

Ka’Deem Carey

Comment: May be best RB group since Thomas Jones/Cedric Benson/Adrian Peterson.

Wide receiver (6)

Alshon Jeffery

Eddie Royal

Marquess Wilson

Joshua Bellamy

Marc Mariani

Cameron Meredith

Comment: Kevin White injury scrambles the overall, injuries require added depth.

Tight end (3)

Martellus Bennett

Zach Miller

Khari Lee

Comment: Offense demanding TE’s who can block and catch equally well.

Offensive line (9)

Jermon Bushrod

Matt Slauson

Will Montgomery

Kyle Long

Jordan Mills

Hroniss Grasu

Tayo Fabuluje

Vladimir Ducasse

Charles Leno Jr.

Comment: RT issues remain unsolved but quality OL-men hard to find.

Defense (25)

Line (5)

Eddie Goldman

Ego Ferguson

Jarvis Jenkins

Will Sutton

Cornelius Washington

Comment: Jeremiah Ratliff suspension, Goldman concussion create concerns with untested group.

Linebacker (9)

Jared Allen

Christian Jones

Shea McClellin

Pernell McPhee

Sam Acho

Jonathan Bostic

Lamarr Houston

Willie Young

John Timu

Comment: Youth will be served; Timu fortifies special teams, too.

Cornerback (7)

Alan Ball

Kyle Fuller

Sherrick McManis

Demontre Hurst

Terrance Mitchell

Tracy Porter

Bryce Callahan

Comment: Bears need Fuller to play like a No. 1 draft pick in scheme stressing “man” coverage.

Safety (4)

Adrian Amos

Antrel Rolle

Brock Vereen

Sherrod Martin

Comment: Still a position that thwarts Bears’ efforts to settle.

Specialists (3)

Robbie Gould

Pat O’Donnell

Thomas Gafford

Comment: Bears didn’t bring K or P into camp; hopefully LS issues resolves.

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

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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.”