Chicago Sun-Times

Projecting the 53-man roster for the Chicago Bears

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There is throwing darts against the wall, taking a stab at something, giving it the ol' college try and taking a shot in the dark.

Somewhere amongst those exercises falls my effort to select the Bears' 53-man roster before it is selected by the men who make the decisions--Jerry Angelo, Lovie Smith and their staffs. The best guess after evaluating training camp, preseason, past history and everything else that goes into trying to enter another man's mind will appear in Thursday's edition of the Sun-Times. We'll lay it out here on Thursday for continued discussion, a much worthier topic than what you're actually looking forward to seeing in the preseason finale vs. the Cleveland Browns. Final cuts, by the way, are due to the league office by 5 p.m. Saturday.

But I'll list some bubble players here, some that made my 53 and others who didn't:


Adrian Peterson: A coach once called the veteran running back a security blanket for his ability to stick around. He doesn't do anything particularly well where he jumps out at you, but he does everything the right way and is about as reliable a player as you will find on the roster. In my estimation, a roster spot comes down to him and tight end Michael Gaines (more on that in a little bit). Peterson ran hard and ran well last Sunday in Denver, prompting one scout from another organization to inquire about what kind of guy he is. If the Bears let Peterson go, he's likely to find work elsewhere. The obvious plus to keeping a player like Peterson is his ability on special teams, but he wasn't quite as strong in that phase last season as he was in previous years.

Devin Aromashodu: From the looks of things there are three wide receiver battling for two roster spots. Yes, it strikes me as odd that the team that gets off the bus running is going to keep six wide receivers, but that's what happens when they draft three and plan to keep two--Juaquin Iglesias and Johnny Knox. Aromashodu has the least special teams value of the wide receivers on the bubble, at least based on his use in preseason. But he's a big target who Jay Cutler started referencing early in training camp before anyone knew who he was. When Aromashodu is on the field, Cutler looks his way. if the quarterbacks gets a vote, and boy we know he'd like one, he sticks.

Rashied Davis: Of the wideouts who circulate through with the first team, none got less action than Davis. He's trying to regain some momentum after a 2008 season in which he was used completely out of position by the coaching staff. Davis simply hasn't done much on offense and Cutler has not thrown a pass to him in preseason. But if you were starting to cross him off your list, he made tackles on the first two special teams plays of the game at Denver. Davis also has experience in the slot, even if Earl Bennett is getting most of the work there right now, especially in some of the packages where tight end Greg Olsen is flexed out wide.

Brandon Rideau: He opened the preseason as the No. 3 wide receiver on the depth chart and he's remained in that spot as he was the first one off the sideline when the Bears went to three at Denver. But Cutler has not looked his way like he has Aromashodu. Rideau, however, scores points because he's been more active on special teams than Aromashodu. They are both about the same size and offer something different for the quarterback in the system.

Michael Gaines: Signed to be a blocking tight end and an H-back who could also line up in the backfield, Gaines just hasn't gotten a lot of action in preseason. It's hard to justify keeping four tight ends on the roster unless there is going to be a specific duty for each one on Sundays. Typically, the Bears keep a fourth tight end for practice purposes on the practice squad, and the expectation is they will do that again this year. Gaines could help, though, because Jason McKie is the only fullback expected to make the roster. Having Gaines would give the team some flexibility if they needed help at the position during a game.

Lance Louis: The seventh-round draft pick has proven to be as athletic as the Bears said he was when they drafted him. He's gotten a little bit of work at left tackle but is too short to play there. He's got a tough, nasty demeanor and that always helps linemen. Might be a developmental player at guard but he can't play center like projected backup guards Josh Beekman and Dan Buenning can. However, the risk in trying to slide him to the practice squad is the Bears would subject him to waivers where someone could scoop him up.


Ervin Baldwin: A seventh-round pick from a year ago, Baldwin was added to the 53-man roster during the season when the Kansas City Chiefs tried to sign him away to their active roster. He hasn't done a whole lot but the Bears saw potential in him at one time. Looks like Henry Melton has replaced him as the defensive end with the "potential" tag.

Henry Melton: Rookie fourth-round pick is a converted running back who is raw. Usually the Bears don't go for projects that early in the draft unless it's someone like Devin Hester. He confirmed the raw part in training camp, and has been battling an ankle injury. I don't think he'll be launched, but you never know, and the defensive line isn't a place where the Bears can stash too many projects. They need production here.

Matt Toeaina: Defensive tackle could slide into the rotation but might not be a lock to make the roster and he does have practice squad eligibility remaining. He benefitted most from the loss of Dusty Dvoracek.

Marcus Freeman: Fifth-round pick from Ohio State didn't flash during training camp and hasn't done much in preseason, although he did manage to pick a pass off at Denver. Freeman just hasn't looked very instinctual on the field and that's something the Bears usually find in their linebackers. But, Freeman possesses the one thing money can't buy--draft status--and Angelo typically holds on to his draft picks that are above the seventh round.

Hunter Hillenmeyer: Former starter at strong side has battled injuries for about a year but looks to be holding up now. He played well in the preseason opener at Buffalo and is a natural fit as a backup to Brian Urlacher in the middle. Hillenmeyer is earning $1.5 million this season and is probably an average contributor on special teams. That's good money to be paying a backup.

Kevin Malast: The undrafted free agent from Rutgers has led the team in tackles in preseason and has gotten his fair share of work with the second team in camp and preseason because of some of the injuries sweeping through the position. He's a tough, hard-nosed player who picked up the scheme quickly because they used similar cover-two principals in school. Malast has proven to be a contributor on special teams and is a bright guy. He's at least ticketed for the practice squad, but as in the case of Louis, do the Bears risk trying to put him through waivers where a team like St. Louis might pounce on him?

Darrell McClover: Bears brought back the Commando prior to the Denver game in order to energize special teams. That's what he does. He's not a contributor on defense but the Bears usually give special teams coordinator Dave Toub one player on the roster to be a designated core special teams guy. McClover could have arrived in the nick of time.

Rod Hood: Veteran cornerback just arrived on the scene and the Bears got some help just in time. That's if he makes the team. Hood doesn't know the defense and will have to get a crash course. He's been a decent cover man in the past but you have to wonder about Arizona and Cleveland bailing on him in the last six months. Still, there isn't a lot of experience and the Bears can ill afford to get caught short handed here.

Trumaine McBride: He was praised for his play in the preseason opener at Buffalo but all of that unraveled at Denver. McBride is undersized and the Bears drafted an even more undersized corner in D.J. Moore. They can't have too many short guys at the position here, not when everyone is looking for size. At least you wouldn't think so. McBride does offer some experience, however.

Josh Bullocks: He might have made more plays on the ball than any other safety during the first three preseason games but from Day 1 it's looked like the deck has been stacked against him. If Bullocks was viewed as a better special teams player than Craig Steltz, and I don't know what the evaluation is on that, maybe he sticks around. Steltz has his draft card to play on the table though.

We'll get to Part II when the projected 53 comes out. Have at it for now.

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You didn't mention Kevin Jones on "O" or Nathan Vasher on "D". Both gone on my list!!

I think Steltz makes it for his special teams play. His avoidance of committing a block from behind on the Hester punt return last game was a really smart, heads up play. How has DJ Moore faired so far, I have not noticed him in games.

Cut McBride, he's rubbish, most of the big passes in the Denver game were due to crap coverage on his behalf

Hey Brad - great piece. I was wondering, who is "the Turk" on the Bears? Just curious to know who taps the guys who are getting cut on the shoulder and collects their playbooks. Keep up the good work!

Cut Gaines, Freeman, J. Davis, Bullochs, Rideau, & McBride especially. I feel for Rideau, but although he has size, he has no speed or real "moves" to him. Plus, he has 4 yrs in the league with nuthin' 2 show for it. As for Bullochs, he has his own "low-lights" reel (where he gets beat by Bears players to boot) on YouTube. 'Nuff said about that. Freeman hasn't lived up to any expectations, not that there were many to begin with. Gaines isn't as "valuable" as R. Davis, so he goes 2. Finally, McBride, for all his heart, has been a problem for the Bears since 2006 (he gave up big plays in the Super Bowl). It's time to admit his deficiencies; He can't tackle effectively or cover well. The rest of the roster gets easier (FB, DL, & OL).

Rashied Davis is one helluva gunner.

NBS, as much as Jones has underperformed this pre-season, his contract won't let the Bears cut him (waste of money and loss of face 2). As for Vasher, the coaches like him ('specially Lovie). Never fear though, you won't hear "Nate is our cornerback " from the Bears. Because the often-injured Bowman & Tillman are slated 2 start, I hope... :)

Here's my guess for the 53, with notables cuts in [brackets].

QUARTERBACK (3)--Cutler, Hanie, Basanez

RUNNING BACK (3)--Forte, Jones, Wolfe [Peterson]


WIDE RECEIVER (6)--Hester, Bennett, Iglesias, Knox, Rideau, Aromashodu [Davis]

TIGHT END (3)--Olsen, Clark, Davis [Gaines]

OFFENSIVE LINE (8)--Pace, Omiyale, Kreutz, Garza, Williams, Beekman, Shaffer, Buenning [Reed, Balogh, Louis]


DEFENSIVE LINE (10)--Harris, Ogunleye, Brown, Harrison, Adams, Idonije, Gilbert, Melton, Anderson, Toeaina [Baldwin]

LINEBACKER (6)--Urlacher, Briggs, Tinoisamoa, Williams, Roach, McClover [Hillenmeyer, Freeman, Malast]

SAFETY (4)--Payne, Manning, Afalava, Steltz [Bullocks]

CORNERBACK (6)--Tillman, Bowman, Graham, Vasher, Moore, Hood [McBride, Hamilton, Turenne]


SPECIALISTS (3)--Gould, Maynard, Mannelly

Cut Rideau and Iglesias. Maybe they can sneak the latter on to the pratice squad.

Sign Matt Jones.

Happy Trails to you! It's coming soon for McBride, Gaines, Rideau, Baldwin, Basanez, Bullucks, J.Davis and Freeman. Keep two QB's, 3 TE's, and Rashied Davis makes the team over Rideau he is just too valuable on Special teams. Freeman loses the numbers game at LB. McBride just isn't good enough same way with Bullucks. Steltz has draft benefit and special teams play over Bullucks. I feel Bears do not need 3 QB's. If they absolutely had to get another QB, there surely is someone on the scrap heap as good as Basanez. Same way with Gaines, keep the 4 runningbacks instead. APete is much more valuable than Gaines. Go Bears!

Kevin Jones sticks around. He is the only 3 down back beside Forte.
Peterson was tried after Cedric Benson got hurt again...or was canned..(can't remember that) but Peterson is not a 3 down back.
Garrott Wolf can't run as a running back. Maybe a receiver but running back in the NFL ...he is not.
Wolf finally gets cut. Bears are done with that experiment. More important to keep wideout with Cutler in town....and more important to keep players that contribute to the team. Peterson can still do well at running the ball...just not all 3 downs.
The Bears keep 3 half-backs and one fullback this year with a fullback on practice squad...just in case.
Gaines is not needed...he goes. Davis picked up his game this preseason.
Rashied Davis is the odd man out...even though ...he is a hell of a gunner.
Not sure what they are going to do on defense. It's all up in the air.
D.J. Moore has showed nothing in preseason. Is he too small? Bears may chance practice squad for hopes he develops into something.

dasuperfan88 - mcbride was still at ole miss in 2006, your thinking of danieal manning giving up the big plays in the super bowl (moving up to double cover clark and leaving reggie wayne wide open for a touchdown).

also, the bears will not keep 10 dline and 3 rb and te. I also do not know why people think they should keep more wr because of cutler, have you seen how many times he has checked down to forte - having the extra back (espically one like ap who can play st) is going to help the bears. and the wolfe experiement is not over, they just need to get him on the field more often then when they want to run a screen - other teams have noticed that.

Why would anybody sign Matt Jones. Do you guys want to see him catch a pass in his nostril. He's a coke head!!!! Roger needs to suspend him for the year. Rashied Davis needs to play, Cutler is just not looking for him. He has more big play ability than the other guys. Also you guys think Bowman is the man. Interceptions in practice are interceptions in practice. They mean nothing.

I wonder whether it makes more sense to keep Malast over Hillenmeyer, McClover or Roach? Roach can't seem to stay healthy, Hillenmeyer seems to be pretty well exposed in coverage, and is marginal on special teams, and McClover can't play significant time on defense in case of injury.

A group of Urlacher, Briggs, Tinoisamoa, Williams, Malast, and maybe Freeman would be a solid 6 deep rotation.

I think Rideau is the odd man out in the WR battle. He just hasn't translated to the field. Aromashodu is faster, more physical, and likely has a much higher ceiling as a player, and could just as easily become a special teams beast at 6'2" 200+ lbs... Davis makes the squad as a gunner and 4th WR.

Hester, Bennett, Davis, Iglesias, Aromashodu, and Knox will be the guys probably. I would rather let Davis go and keep the two big guys in Rideau and Aromashodu, but I think Davis has a lot of value in coverage teams that the other guys cannot match yet. Knox is really the most limited of the group that will make the team, but he does have deep speed that the others (outside of Hester) simply do not have.

As much as I don't want to see it any more, Adrian Peterson deserves to be on this team more than Wolfe. He contributes in more phases of the game, and can actually run the ball as well as draws and screens. I would be even happier if they picked up a waiver wire running back to replace both of them, as there has got to be something better out there. Maybe Sutton in Green Bay gets dropped. he is a better small back prospect than Wolfe out of Northwestern.

I think the conduct policy will make Lance Louis safe to get through to the practice squad. he has a pending legal issue that will prevent teams from taking a project with a past...same with Melton, but his issue is more understanding that you can't go until the ball is snapped. No one is going to sign him to their active roster.

I completely forgot about the "Commando" though (Roach has had 2 concussions in preseason, TWO!!). McClover will be the factor whether or not Adrian Peterson, Rashied Davis, Garrett Wolfe, or Michael Gaines make it or not...

Brad, how bad is Melton's ankle? Could they park him on the PUP list while still keeping under the 53 man roster restriction? I think PUP gives them something like 6 games to make another move.

If so it will be interesting to see how much he plays tonight. A lot can happen to an NFL roster in six games.

How can we pay 28 million to a back up cornerback??? Goodbye, Mr. Vasher!

QB: (2) Cutler and Haine
RB: (3) Forte, Jones, AP
WR: (6) Hester, Bennett, Aromashodu, Iglesias, Knox, Davis
TE: (3) Olsen, Clark, K.Davis
FB: (1) McKie (prefer he be gone but the coaches like him I guess)
OL: (8) Pace, Williams, Shaffer, Kruetz, Buenning, Garza, Omiyale, Beekman

DL: (10) Harris, Harrison, Adams, Toeaina, Gilbert, Brown, Ogunleye, Melton, Idonije, Baldwin (tired of seeing Anderson SUCK at the same things over and over again)
LB: (7) Urlacher, Briggs, Tinoisamoa, Williams, Roach, Freeman, McGlover (McGlover mainly as Toubs ST ACE?)
CB: (6) Tillman, Bowman, Graham, Vasher, Hood, Moore
S: (4) Payne, Manning, Afalava, Bullocks

Specialist: (3) Mannely, Maynard, Gould

Hunter gets axed unless they decide to part ways with Freeman or Roach.

Steltz should get the boot, he stinks and is slow. Bullocks may have a U-tube reel but you could build that with any player in the league.... Bullocks has started over 40-games so experience as a backup is more important.

Toeaina makes it unless Angelo adds a cast off from another team this weekend. We have to carry (5) DT's because of Harris's iffy knee, Gilbert is raw, Harrison is yet un-proven... We have very thin depth at DT so I think Angelo adds a veteran camp cut.

Mark Anderson is a joke. The dude hasn't learned a thing since he was a rookie. Some guy's just don't get it. Marinelli can only do so much, I sick and tired of watching Anderson get caught out of position on cut back runs. He was burned twice already this pre-season by over pursuing the play.

Wolfe hasn't shown enough to be counted on as a RB. AP is a Lovie favorite and still shows up every game at RB and on ST's.

Gaines only sticks if we go with ZERO FB's and 4-TE's.... I don't see that happening but you never know.

Go Bears !!

Crack up craig jenkins...catching with his nostrils!

Is there not one guy other than Rasheed Davis that can gun just as well as Rasheed Davis? The Bears don't have one corner on the roster that can do as well as him? He's had a decent run/chance in Chicago. Maybe the Bears should move on. If he's really heads and tails above anyone else on the roster, then you have to release Rideau. With our pass D as weak as it is, we'll need every special teams play we can make.

The special team units looked bad on Thurs. night.
They have to keep the good special-teamers.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on September 2, 2009 9:37 PM.

Forbes ranks Bears 9th in franchise value; McCaskeys panned by Silver was the previous entry in this blog.

Projecting the 53-man roster for the Chicago Bears, Part II is the next entry in this blog.

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