Chicago Sun-Times

Decision time nears for Bears: A peek ahead to final roster cuts

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Final cuts are due in five days and the Bears might get down to the business of whittling down the roster before then.

They will be able to make final evaluations after Thursday's game at Cleveland and weigh any injuries that come out of the game in the process.

Twenty-two players will have to be waived to get down to the 53-man limit and we'll take a look at the process here and offer one forecast on how it could shake out.

"I think you turn can heads right up until [cuts] if you have an opportunity to practice," coach Lovie Smith said Sunday. "And we're going out here and we're evaluating guys, and we're doing it right now. We're using these practices to get one final look. Each day players tell you something, and we have to listen and keep our eyes open and we're doing that."

One thing to keep in mind when weighing the possibilities as we move toward cut-down day is the history of the organization. General manager Jerry Angelo has a track record of keeping his draft picks an allowing them time to blossom. Two picks from last year--defensive end Dan Bazuin (second round) and linebacker Mike Okwo (third round)--had their rookie seasons wiped out by injuries. They've seen work with the backups in preseason and have not necessarily stood out, but that doesn't mean the franchise is ready to give up on the investments.

Roosevelt Williams is the only first-day pick in Angelo's seven drafts to get the early hook. The cornerback from Tuskegee played sparingly as a rookie after being a third-round pick in 2002 and was let go Sept. 1, 2003, at the final cutdown.

A look at how the roster could shape up come the weekend. Possible cuts are in parentheses:

QUARTERBACK (2)--Orton, Grossman, (Hanie). Comment: The Bears have said all along they are considering going with two quarterbacks and keeping one on the practice squad. The way the numbers add up, it makes sense. Caleb Hanie would become a free agent if he clears waivers, likely, and knows signing on to the practice squad would be a good career move. He'd be an injury away from having the chance to be promoted.

RUNNING BACK (4)--Forte, Jones, Wolfe, Peterson, (Pope). Comment: Adrian Peterson and Garrett Wolfe have definite roles on special teams. Wolfe has really excelled in that area of late.

FULLBACK (1)--McKie, (Polite). Comment: Tough break for Lousaka Polite, who could probably start for some teams. Perhaps he would be worth a conditional draft pick.

WIDE RECEIVER (6)--Hester, Lloyd, Bennett, Booker, Bradley, Davis, (Hass, Rideau). Comment: As concerned as Marty Booker was last week about his standing, he looks safe. The group needs a veteran presence.

TIGHT END (3)--Clark, Olsen, Davis, (Mines, Stone). Comment: This is a real area of strength.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)--Kreutz, Beekman, Metcalf, Garza, Tait, St. Clair, Williams, Barton, Adams, (Oakley, Poles, Balogh, Reed). Comment: It might be a difficult decision between veteran Anthony Oakley and seventh-round pick Chester Adams. Cody Balogh has been a nice surprise as an undrafted free agent too.

TOTAL OFFENSE: 25

DEFENSIVE LINE (9)--Harris, Adams, Dvoracek, Idonije, Harrison, Brown, Ogunleye, Anderson, Bazuin, (Toeaina, Baldwin, Clermond, Osborn). Comment: The real decision that needs to be made here is whether to retain Dan Bazuin, an end, or Matt Toeaina, a tackle. There are four tackles and a swing man in Izzy Idonije that are locked in. That and Bazuin's draft status could win out but Toeaina should get extensive playing time at Cleveland and can use it as a final audition.

LINEBACKER (6)--Urlacher, Briggs, Hillenmeyer, Williams, McClover, Roach, (LaRocque, Okwo). Comment: The Rod Wilson injury doesn't help. I looked and looked and looked for a way for Mike Okwo to make the team. I just don't see Angelo giving up on a third-round pick. It could come down to a decision between him and cornerback Trumaine McBride, a seventh-round pick last season. The deciding factor? The team has gone with six linebackers, actually even five before. It's unlikely to keep less than five cornerbacks. This could be one of the final decisions.

SAFETY (5)--Brown, McGowan, D. Manning, Payne, Steltz, (Peters). Comment: Leonard Peters might warrant a spot on the practice squad if he isn't scooped up. He's made a few plays on special teams.

CORNERBACK (5)--Tillman, Vasher, Graham, Bowman, McBride, (T. Brown, R. Manning Jr.). Comment: Looks like Ricky Manning Jr.'s ship has sailed. It's left this port, at least.

TOTAL DEFENSE: 25

SPECIALISTS (3)--Gould, Maynard, Mannelly, (Gafford, Atterberry). Comment: No surprises here.

So, that's our take on how things could shape up later this week. Like Smith said, the evaluation period is never ending. Most of the roster is pretty set. There are only a few spots that look to be up in the air. Remember, when in doubt, draft status carries influence.

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26 Comments

Interesting list. IF Angelo retains Metcalf I will be PO'd the entire season. This bum has done nothing but blow his entire Bear Career. He is better blocking defenders that trip over him because he is constantly getting pushed backwards and onto his back play after play. ALl he does now is cash his check, he has little value now that Beekman has done a good (not great) job in his place. The Bears would be better served long term to cut ties with the following players now and move forward.

Terrance Metcalf: as discribed above and his $1.45 million salary

Rex Grossman: I know what the naysayers are thinking but Rex is a shell of his former self now. No confidence, the fans boo him every chance they get. He looked entirely lost and dismal Thursday against the Niners !! The Bears would be better off cutting him now and perhaps adding a veteran cast off as Orton's back up. Haine would be waiting in the wings on the practice squad in a pinch anyway.

Jason McKie: He has shown little the last few years and Polite has frankly out played him in every fasit of the game in camp.

Bauzin: He is still Practice squad eligible and he should easily clear waivers. Let him red shirt (again) this time on the practice squad instead of IR. Keep Toeina as an extra D-tackle since our recent history suggests we need as many as we can keep on the roster. Baldwin should be put on the PS as well.

Booker: I'm 50/50 on him. I loved that the Bears brought him back but his lack of production in pre-season scares me... If Rideau has won the coaches over with his strong camp then maybe we should go with the youngsters at WR and dump Booker. Veteran leadership is over rated anyway, just look at the failed Moose experiment !!! besides, that is what the WR coach is for. Let him earn his money this year....

Releasing Rex...

He released all over himself in Arizona...then comes home...releases again...in the white pants...against Miami....and then he released all over the largest stage in sports....The Superbowel

If Kyle goes down, it makes no difference whether Rex or Caleb is in there...other teams will blitz the God out of them, and we already know all we want to know about Releasing Rex...at least Caleb can run

Cut Him...free up space for a football player

Kyle is our QB...say it, b...es

I pretty well agree with your prediction Biggs, I just wish there was a way the Bears could keep full back Lousaka Polite. The 6-0 250lb full back sure would help a team that gets off the bus running. Also, I might keep Anthony Oakley over Terrence Metcalf, while I don't have a problem with Metcalfs play, its his durability that I do have a problem with, besides, Oakley has versatility working in his favor over Metcalf, Oakley can play guard or center.
I agree with the Bears keeping Dan Bazuin, this season is the equivalent of his rookie season. I say give the guy one full season to show what he can do before calling him a bust. Also, Bazuin has only had one full pre-season to play, give him time to develope, I think Bazuin will be alright. I do also hate losing Matt Toeaina, but like you said Biggs, "Idonije has versatility working in his favor," and I actually think Idonije is a better tackle than end, and we only need so many tackles, this is another reason I would keep Bazuin over Toeaina, it will be interesting to see who stays and who goes GO BEARS!!

I hope they keep PJ Pope- he has a great burst. Booker can go- as Bensonsucks said, leadership skills is overrated. I wonder why Angelo likes to hold on to some picks, regardless of draft status- he should have learned that from the Benson fiasco. As for Grossman, it would be best for everyone to let him go. They gave Rex more chances than any other team would have even dared. Rex may still be a decent player, but let's declare the experiment over and move on.

Can someone please tell me why Jason McKie makes this team over Polite? He is terrible and Polite has done more than he has ever done!!!!!!I am so tired of Mckie and his drops, missed blocks and lack of effort!

I agree with BensonSucks on "veteran leadership" it is the sports equivalent of "she has a good personality." Booker needs to go, too old, too slow, and lazy to boot.
Grossman though, that is a really tough call. I think it may be better for his career if he and the Bears part ways. I just don't know if he can succeed here in this contentious environment. Too bad too, he was always a stand up guy, even when failing. He never threw temper tantrums like Urlacker and Briggs, etc.

I second that. Having an empty space at LG is better than Metcalf. B/c while both the space and Metcalf let defenders whiz by, the empty space won't get flagged for 15-yd personal foul penalties.

I don't care if Rex knows the system or whatever b/c he simply can't execute it. His mind is gone, his confidence is shot. I like the guy but I don't think he can help us win much. We can't afford to lose Hanie if he gets stripped off the practice squad b/c he's shown too much in terms of raw talent and instincts. My solution, put Rex on the practice squad b/c there's no worry of any one stealing him. Plus, putting him in that undesirable role and giving him the time away might actually help him in the long run. He might pick up those long-absent fundamentals.

So Rideau and Hass will be shown the door. Hmm, if there's any players who have earned a role on this team it's these two. Rideau's two touchdown catches have been remarkable, especially that Hail Mary from Hanie last week. Hass quite simply has great hands and instinct. Bennett, on the other hand, has not caught a single pass if I'm not mistaken. His only good play was that return and we don't need him for that. As far as "veteran presence" goes, hasn't Lloyd been in the NFL for at least 5 years now? And Rashied has been with the Bears a few years now as well and knows the system. But like Brad said, draft selection status trumps actual talent. This couldn't be truer for the Bears.

Lastly, we know Ricky Manning Jr. can be a solid contributor at the nickel spot, so why get rid of him? Danieal Manning is a great athlete, but so far he has shown tons of mental mistakes at safety, corner, and nickel. The only spot he's excelled at is KR and we kind of have that spot set already. If anything, D. Manning needed to be kept at safety b/c that's a spot the Bears can never have enough depth. Is this another blunder by Boob Babich?

On Booker, either trust the coaching staff, or wait until the season starts. A 10 year vet in the NFL has only two objectives in training camp. 1)Get in game shape, and 2)Be healthy for the start of the season. Remember when they picked up Ruben Brown his first season with the Bears? Everyone said he was washed up in training camp, then the season started and he was a good player(until he got hurt last year). These vets know that all they can win in the preseason is an injury settlement.

On Grossman, I was ashamed just watching on TV how the "fans" treated him last game. You boo players for not hustling, not being in shape, off the field stuff, not trying hard enough. All Grossman has done is give it his best shot and lose. I thought he stood up(while getting beat up)pretty good in Seattle. If history is any indicator, he will probably be needed before the season is over. He has also shown that he is decent coming off the bench if needed. Hanie might be worth something next year, but not this year. I thought the Bears started the year with two good young veteran QBs and a win-win situation. I still think that. Give the guy a break.

I do not know why they keep Wrecks Grose-man. Release him and keep Caleb and your fans don't receive anyeurisms from persistant anger. Did anyone notce how quickley Rex got booed at the game? Release hime and keep Caleb and we then might have a fighting chance if God forbid if any injuries get sustained by Kyle, we as fans don't have to hold betting pools as to how many interceptions our QB can toss. I personally like Ricky Manning, but I also understand his frustration at not getting enough reps on with the first team, because he has many skills, in my view, and to wayste that talent with the second team is pretty foolish. GO BEARS!

I've never heard such silly comments in my life, you want to cut Rex,no you cut Booker and Bazuin. What have you seen from Orton this preseason not a thing against any pass rush. Come sept.7th in Indy Orton will be playing in a loud dome vs a good pass rush let's judge him then, When teams will game plan against his strengths and weaknesses. We will need Rex at some point this season so let's just stop it. He lost the job and Orton played good and got protection that eluded him a week earlier. I didn't think he would perform good in San Fransico. that being said I think Okwo and Bazuin need to go We need to keep Balogh, remember J.A late round picks usually pan out.

It seems like Mckie has been non-existent. I get he can catch 3 yard passes, the feature of the offense, but with the run being first, I'd rather have a rolling boulder in Polite clearing the way for Forte. The kid actually follows his blocks and reads well. In and out. Not in and down.

The only surprise to me is Roach over Okwo, pending coaches evaluation.
I see Rex as a back up to Orton for the whole season. Orton has no history of any NFL injurys. I believe that Rex is gone after this year with both side being happy.
I could also see if Orton has a break out year that they could give him a multi-year contract.
Booker will come out with 40-50 rec. if he plays 16 games. He isnt gonna wow anyone but he is solid.

The D looks strong on paper. Thats just it on paper. I wouldnt mind seeing a lot more blitzing this year. I know last year they were limping through the season but this year so far looks to be healthy.

I say something completely opposite. Quit paying these dummies huge amounts of money before there contract is up. Whats the difference if they sit out or play like they did against San Fran Money makes athletes not want to be great. How could anybody play like that ...let alone at home. Soorry guys...Angeloose has got to go. If your philosophy is to win by defense and spec. teams and just "manage " the ball on offense you wont win many games. Tampa did it.....we dont have a Dereck Brooks or a Warren Sapp,talent wise maybe.....Heart wise no way. How about Marc Bradley at #38 pick, Garret Wolfe 3rd round? Dan Bazuiwhosyourmomma in round 2, Metcalf round 3, Cedric the slob at #4 overall!!!???? Daniel Manning? Micheal Ohno!!! in round 3........and now this year. 1,4,5,7 round picks all have injuries pre existing. 3 round pick had run ins with the law in 07??!!! How about Haines ang Grose Man in 02!!! Whoever said Angelo can draft has a bigger banana in their pocket than Angelo had for Benson. HHHHHEEEELLLPPPP!! Its just a matter of time before Hester is hurt....we wont have anything then. Just wait guys. Our super left tackle St Clair will disappoint you. If he was that good he would have been a left tackle and not get cut by the rams. He is not a solution for 8 weeks until our "SSSHHH...dont say anything about your back and we will draft you" left tackle Chris Williams comes back. Hey!!! a Dusti Dvorck sighting!!!!

I have to say that some of the comments are certainly of concern. I agree with Kream on Rex and Balogh. Orton looked great last week, but remember the Vikings game last year in the dome, he had a tough game that the Bears lost.

Orton is the starting QB and I support him but getting rid of Rex is crazy. The NFL will find weaknesses in Orton's play and will attack him and expose any weakness he has just as they did with blitzing Rex. The Bears need both QB's!!!! I don't understand how anyone could think keeping a rookie QB would help the Bears win this year.

The fullback Polite keep him, 250 lbs of lumber helps the running game. Cut Metcalf and find a way to keep Bazuin. Okwo practice squad material.

what is wrong with you people? How many times does WRECKS GROSSMAN have to prove that he is a no talent bum. The only reason he is still in the league is because JA can't admit when he has made a mistake. After this season WRECKS will be working at Wal-mart as a greeter because every other team in the NFL knows he is worthless. people say that WRECKS took us to the superbowl, NO HE DIDN"T, the defense and special teams did. I could see keeping this loser if it wasn't his sixth year in the league. The bum has proved only that he can't compete in the NFL.

Chris F,

1st off, Rex was extremely important in the Bears wins over Seattle and New Orleans in the playoffs leading up to the Superbowl.

Secondly, How many other no talent QB's have thrown for 3,000 yards and 20td's in a season? Oh but he fumbles the ball and thowns INT's. Well so does Orton! Orton has higher fumbles and INT's per game average than Rex. Look at the stats, and no i am not including preseason stats because they DON'T count. Rex is the best QB the Bears have had in the last 20 years and will start the 2nd half of week 3. We will start 0-2 with a total of 16 points in 2 games at Indy and Carolina. He will start off slow against the Bucs in week 3. All you Rex haters will be booing Orton along with the Rex supporters. Lovie will have to make the change at halftime and Rex will be cheered when he starts the second half against the Bucs. Lovie will then say they need to evaluate the game film on Monday but no decision has been reached. Then Tuesday Sept 23rd we will hear "Rex is our QB".

Trust me Rex haters. The Bears need Rex more than Rex needs the Bears. There are plenty of teams that would like Rex on their roster, even if only a back up. Colts, Pats, Vikes, Falcons, Rams, Lions, Giants, Chargers.

Keep Rex? Cut Rex? Watch Rex get sacked? I don't matter who you put on the field at QB, Rex or Orton, both are gonna get hammered this year. Eventually Chicago will need to find a real QB.

Angelo is going to let draft possission trump talent because he can't keep letting people see how horrible he is at drafting players. I would Keep Hanie over Rex, teams already know how to beat Rex and it is pretty simple to do.

The good news for Angelo is he has two Mannings on this team. The bad news is there the wrong Mannings.

Cut Wolfe, he stinks. the 1 yard average wonder, another bust for Angelo. Cut Booker he can't catch and he looks as bad if not worse than he did in Miami. Keep Oakley over Adams. Cut Dusty, he is injury prone and will suffer through injuries all season besides the Bears are deep enough at DT to get away with it. Say good bye to Metcalf, please say good bye to him. Oh and can we cut Angelo too, he's Bum.

Sense I have been on the topic of cuts and firing people, Biggs why don't you you go tell Mulligan he should quit after writing the biggest brown nose, cream puff piece about Angelo and Williams I have ever read.

What the Bears should do is fire Lovie, Angelo, Boob and Turner.

Then they should get on there hands and knees and big and pleed for Bill Cowher to lower himself and come and coach this sorry excuse for a football team back to respectability.

Bazuin is practice squad material from the little I've seen and I like Toeaina who played like a Tazmanian Devil at the end of last season. I like Oakley over Metcalf, and as someone pointed out, he can play two O-line positions with little drop off in either slot. I have to agree with the posts that say Booker is no longer the "book it" receiver he once was. Plus, if his veteran leadership is such a given, when exactly does he plan to show it. He dropped two catchable passes in the preseason games and little was heard of him during training camp (these are some of the best and most important times to show leadership). Give me Mike Haas who catches anything thrown his way and uses great body position to overcome his lack of speed. McKie has sure hands but is not the blocker that Polite is. Plus he goes down on the first contact every time and does not punish tacklers like Polite can. Grossman has earned his spot as a backup, but he has looked good coming off the bench when he has little or no time to overthink his game. Hanie will last long enough on the practice squad to be called up when either Kyle or Grossman go down with an injury. Go Bears!!

You raise some good points Josh. Unfortunately we're not in 2006 anymore and unless you own a DeLorean equipped with a flux capacitor, you should put those thoughts to rest.

Rex isn't the same player from that season, just like Moose isn't the same player. When Rex was benched in 2007, he had the worst QB rating in the league.

How you can judge Orton at this point is beyond me since he's only played a handful of games with the majority of them coming in his rookie season he was supposed to sit.

And what's this about Rex being "extremely important" in the Saints game? He had one TD that he blindly flung to Berrian and, were it not for Berrian being covered by Fred "Worst Cornerback in the League" Thomas, it should have been picked off.

Trust me, I like Rex, but some of you Rexophiles are beyond delusional.

Mike,

You are right. Rex had a horrible rating after the first 3 games of the season. Who were the opponents? San Diego, KC, and Dallas. SD and Dallas both had superbowl caliber defenses. Rex was a victim of circumstance. He started the season against 2 of the top 4 teams in the NFL at a time when we were finding out that the Oline was horrid and Cedric Benson was indeed a spectacular bust.
When Rex came back in the middle of the season he showed improvement in decision making and turned the ball over less.

I haven't made a final opinion of Orton except that he has a weak arm. I hope he does well, hell, i hope Lovie and the Rex haters are right and Orton throws for 3000+yds 20+td. I sincerely doubt this though with this offense.


The only thing that i am disappointed in Rex is that he hasn't figured out how to beat the blitz. I am not sure if it is his fault or the coaching staffs fault. I assume it is a bit of both. Eli Manning had the same problem and the Giants changed their formation to have 2 people back with Eli in most offensive sets to help pick up the blitz, and it worked!!! Coaches are supposed to put their players in the best possible position to be successful. I can't believe the Bears have not found a way to safeguard against the blitz. Yes some of it is Rex but seriously R. Turner why are our WR's running 10-15 yard routes when teams are bringing the house at Rex?
I am reserving judgement on Orton until the end of the Panther game. If he plays well at Indy and at Carolina then I will join the Orton bandwagon. Until then Rex is still the best QB on the Bears roster and best Bears QB in the past 20 years.

Josh

You are wrong about the Chargers, last year at the begining of the season they were playing like garbage, LT looked like a wounded animal the first half of the season. There is no such thing as a super bowl calibur defense dude, you either have a good defense or you don't. Dallas had a decent defense and what about KC explain that one.

I myself am giving orton 4-5 games before things get real bad for him and he will probably get pulled in game 6-7.

Dude Rex has never fixed a lot of problems with his game, he locks on to a reciever, skips his progressions, has sloppy foot work, reacts slowly, can't read a D and can't make the short throw.

I am truly SICK of hearing the term "Rex hater" every time someone points out that good ol' Rex has not been all that good a QB. Please, Rex fanatics - get real. It doesn't mean we hate the guy simply because we think he hasn't played up to expectations.

Llama,
The thing about that Minnesota game last year with Orton is that it was his first legitimate action all season. As the third string Q, he got no reps with the offense all year long. he threw the equivalent of batting practice, and simulated the offense of the other team. How can you expect him to be sharp with basically a week to get used to playing with the first team, who quite frankly was in shambles already before the change? The same thing happened in 2005. He was 3rd string, and all of a sudden was asked to lead a team.

Given a real chance to prepare, and be treated as a starter in practice (getting reps, leading the meetings on offense), and we see what kind of performance he can bring us against SF. Is that the Orton we will see every week? Probably not. he will have ups and downs, but you can't judge that performance without taking into consideration what led to it, just like you can't judge the last 3 games of last season without factoring in that he was getting his first real work with the offense in late season games, when most teams are playing their best football.

Thank you Tom the voice of reason. And let me add on that Rex has never been a good QB he has small hands, slow feet, no field vision and the reason he can't complete short passes it's because he can't see over or between linemen to get a throwing angle. And it would be good for Rex and the Bears to part ways because it's not going to get any better for Rex here only worse and he doesn't have the talent to change it.

Joe:

Some good points particularly about Minnesota being his first game as a starter.

The other factors that both QB's faced was a poor OLine and a running back (CB) that could not run, block or catch passes out of the backfield. Grossman has had to handle the above offensive problems for a long time.

It is Orton's time now and I was impressed with his play against a vanilla SF defense at home in Chicago. Playing in the new very loud dome in Indy against a good pass rush will give us an idea if Orton has indeed taken the next step.

I do agree with Creighton that the first two games away against aggressive defenses will help determine if Orton is the one capable to carry the team for the year. We will see, I hope he does it and if not I hope the BEars fans will give Grossman a chance to come in and take the reins again for the offense.

But I doubt they will give Grossman another chance and boo him incessantly.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on August 25, 2008 6:57 AM.

Jerry Angelo clears air on Chris Williams' situation was the previous entry in this blog.

Rex Grossman Q&A is the next entry in this blog.

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