The Bears got about half of their dirty work done Friday when they informed nine players they will be placed on waivers Saturday.
The club needs to trim 21 players by 5 p.m. to reach the 53-man roster limit. Even if a players makes it through the final cutdown, he's not necessarily safe. More casualties could follow if the Bears find players they want on the waiver wire. Waiver claims will be awarded Sunday morning at 11 when teams can begin forming practice squads.
Here are the nine players we know will be let go: defensive ends Dan Bazuin and Nick Osborn, offensive linemen Cody Balogh, Ryan Poles and Tyler Reed, fullback Lousaka Polite, running back P.J. Pope, wide receiver Mike Hass and safety Leonard Peters. Guard Chester Adams is likely headed toward injured reserve or an injury settlement after suffering a sprained MCL in his left knee Thursday night at Cleveland.
So we'll revise the projected 53-man roster we presented earlier this week, removing the names that have already been informed.
What do you think?
QUARTERBACK (3)--Orton, Grossman, Hanie. Comment: Hanie, the undrafted free agent from Colorado State, did what coaches want to see most. He got a little bit better from one week to the next. As long as he doesn't plateau, he deserves a longer look.
RUNNING BACK (4)--Forte, Jones, Wolfe, Peterson. Comment: Jones needs to be utilized to justify cutting loose fullback Lousaka Polite, who had some value. It looks like Jones will get his chance and teammates are high on him, always a good sign.
FULLBACK (1)--McKie. Comment: Too bad the Bears couldn't find a conditional pick for Polite.
WIDE RECEIVER (6)--Hester, Lloyd, Bennett, Booker, Bradley, Davis, (Rideau). Comment: The guy who made the most plays in preseason for the Bears in 2002, Kenny Christian, didn't make the final roster. That fate could await Brandon Rideau even after he led the team with three touchdown receptions. Rideau made some big plays downfield but rarely got work with the first team, even in training camp. He's a bigger target with long arms and that sets him apart from the remainder of the roster. Mark Bradley would probably embrace the opportunity for a new start but general manager Jerry Angelo isn't going to launch all his draft picks, is he?
TIGHT END (3)--Clark, Olsen, Davis, (Mines, Stone). Comment: Fontel Mines showed up on special teams at Cleveland and would be a gimme if the Bears hadn't drafted Kellen Davis. They'll probably try to stash him on the practice squad but he could develop interest elsewhere. Mines has made strides in the last year as a blocker since converting from wide receiver.
OFFENSIVE LINE (8)--Kreutz, Beekman, Metcalf, Garza, Tait, St. Clair, Williams, Barton, (Adams, Oakley). Comment: Kirk Barton's job could depend on whether or not Fred Miller decides to accept a one-year contract offer. Miller is attending his sister's wedding in Houston and Barton is sweating out the time of his life awaiting a decision on whether or not he has made the club.
TOTAL OFFENSE: 25
DEFENSIVE LINE (9)--Harris, Adams, Dvoracek, Idonije, Harrison, Brown, Ogunleye, Anderson, Toeaina, (Baldwin, Clermond). Comment: Cutting Bazuin had to be the toughest thing Angelo will do this weekend. It's a cold-hearted business and while Bazuin pocketed a $1.316 million signing bonus a little more than a year ago, he never was able to show the team what he's like when healthy.
LINEBACKER (6)--Urlacher, Briggs, Hillenmeyer, Williams, McClover, Roach, (LaRocque, Okwo). Comment: You could make a better case for Joey LaRocque to make the team than former third-round pick Mike Okwo.
SAFETY (5)--Brown, McGowan, D. Manning, Payne, Steltz. Comment: Don't anticipate any changes here but wasn't impressed with Craig Steltz's range in preseason.
CORNERBACK (5)--Tillman, Vasher, Graham, Bowman, McBride, (T. Brown). Comment: Trey Brown could merit consideration for the practice squad.
TOTAL DEFENSE: 25
SPECIALISTS (3)--Gould, Maynard, Mannelly, (Gafford, Atterberry). Comment: No surprises here. Thomas Gafford could land back in Green Bay by Sunday although Seattle could nab him with a waiver claim. The Seahawks might be in the market for a long snapper themselves. Gafford was in Green Bay earlier this summer and lost out to J.J. Jansen, who went down with a left knee injury Thursday night. There hasn't been this much suspense for a long snapper in these parts for some time.
Is it possible something different happens?
Sure it is. The team that gets off the bus running could elect to go with five wide receivers instead of six. Matt Toeaina isn't a lock at defensive tackle but he sure makes sense. As Angelo says, you can never have too many tackles. They also say that about cornerback so that makes it hard to believe Zack Bowman or Trumaine McBride could be be cut. The Bears like to keep five corners. But neither one did much in preseason. Rideau hangs around if the Bears decide they want to keep their 53 best players no matter what position they are at.
Final cuts probably will not be officially announced until later in the day if the Bears follow their game plan from last year. We'll see what happens between now and then.