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.