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The trade deadline passed this afternoon and, as expected, the Bears did not make another move after Friday's significant trade for defensive end Gaines Adams.

Looks like it has been quiet around the league as a whole.

Teams are not permitted to begin forming eight-man practice squads until 11 a.m., but there are a few candidates among the Bears' cuts that could return.

A league souce said that center Donivan Raiola will likley be signed to the practice squad. The Bears signed him in August, and with eight linemen on the 53-man roster they are expected to sign at least two to the practice squad if not three. The Bears carried nine linemen for most of last season, and they had two on the practice squad. Defensive end Ervin Baldwin is also expected to re-join the practice squad provided he clears waivers. Quarterback Brett Basanez is a definite possibility because he knows the system, and he performed well in the preseason victory Thursday night over Cleveland.

Here are the cuts from Saturday that are eligible for the prcatice squad. You will notice that wide receiver Brandon Rideau is not on the list.

The Bears have made it official with a series of moves today to reach the 53-man roster limit before proceeding to the start of the 2009 season. The players will get back to work with practice Monday at Halas Hall. Here are the moves reported on the team's Web site:

CB Charles Tillman was promoted from the physically unable to perform list to the active roster

RB Kevin Jones was placed on inured reserve with a torn ligament in his left ankle

DE Henry Melton was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury

S Dahna Deleston was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury

Melton's ankle injury was not believed to be serious and it could be a way to stash the fourth-round pick from Texas on the squad for a year. The problem is he cannot practice while on IR so the only work he can do is in the classroom and weight room. This marks the third time in four years the Bears have placed at least one draft pick on IR prior to the opening of the season. It could be concerns about depth on the interior of the line cost him a spot as the Bears kept tackle Matt Toeaina, who right now figures to be third in the rotation at nose tackle.

Here are the official cuts:

QB Brett Basanez
FB Jason Davis
FB Will Ta'ufo,ou
WR Eric Peterman
WR Brandon Rideau
G Johan Asiata
OT Cody Balogh
G Dan Buenning
C Donovan Raiola
DE Ervin Baldwin
DE Joe Clermond
LB Marcus Freeman
LB Kevin Malast
LB Darrell McClover
LB Mike Rivera
CB Rudy Burgess
CB Rod Hood
CB Marcus Hamilton
CB Woodny Turenne

Choosing the 53-man roster is not an exact science.

Figuring out the practice squad, well, that is a pure guessing game. But that won't stop me from giving it a shot here. Final cuts are due to the league office by 5 p.m. on Saturday. Clubs can begin assembling an eight-man practice squad at 11 a.m. Sunday. Teams will let players now when they are waiving them that they would like to make them a priority to add to their practice squad.

Bears general manager Jerry Angelo has a history of identifying about four or five players he wants to keep the entire season, or most of the season on the practice squad. He uses the other three or four spots in a revolving manner, bringing in players for a look that might last a week to a month. Then, he filters them out and brings in new players. It allows the Bears to look at more than a dozen players over the course of the season.

Typically, he will keep two offensive linemen, at least one defensive lineman, a linebacker, a tight end and a fullback. The Bears are also expected to place a quarterback on the practice squad this season. They generally fill about five slots from within and then go out and sign players they liked heading into the draft who are cut loose elsewhere.

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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:

Offense

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.

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When the Bears used two of their first three draft picks on defensive linemen, one of the first questions we had was where are they going to carve out some playing time?

As coaches like to say, that will sort itself out. That is the refrain that signals competition is on the way, the one thing that sorts out players and pecking order more than anything else.

Tackle Jarron Gilbert and end Henry Melton have been added to the mix and all of the linemen from 2008 are back this season.

"They're big, athletic guys,'' new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli said of the draft picks. "They have speed, and they bend very well. In terms of just the size and movement they show, we're very happy with them."

Israel Idonije has been bounced outside to end again but none of the players have left. They're all in the mix for 2009 so it is going to be an interesting situation. The Bears carried 10 linemen on the roster at times last season. They opened with nine but expanded when they promoted end Ervin Baldwin from the practice squad in November to prevent losing him to Kansas City. They went back to nine after tackle Dusty Dvoracek landed on injured reserve in December for the third consecutive season.

So adding Gilbert, the third-round pick from San Jose State, and Melton, the fourth-round pick from Texas, to the roster the Bears now have 13 players for what should be nine or 10 slots. That includes postseason addition Joe Clermond, who was a camp body last summer and spent some time on the practice squad. Clermond and Baldwin, a seventh-round pick a year ago, face an uphill battle. The Bears look locked into keeping five ends--Alex Brown, Adewale Ogunleye, Idonije and Melton--and that means the remaining cuts will have to come from the interior. Matt Toeaina has had a role as a well-liked backup but simply hasn't been given any real opportunities.

But beyond the roster spots, let's take a close look at playing time by evaluating the number of snaps that were shared on the line last season:

If little happens between now and the 2010 draft, the Bears could find that defensive end is more significant to their plans than wide receiver is in this draft.

That is because starter Adewale Ogunleye, Mark Anderson and Israel Idonije are all coming out of contract. Now, Anderson will not be a free agent unless the NFL and the players association can work out an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement. In an uncapped year, which is what the sides are on track for right now, players do not become unrestricted free agents until they have six years of service in. That will be one motivating factor for the players to reach an agreement on some type of extension. In Anderson's case, that means the Bears would control his rights in an uncapped year.

Idonije is a role player right now who has never been more than a spot starter. He's been moved back to end and that should make him better on special teams again. Ogunleye will be 32. The bottom line is the Bears will have all the cap space needed, and then some, to address their own players if they choose to do so. But it's worth wondering if the contract situation will play a factor in decisions made this weekend with the draft.

Need No. 4--Defensive end

Players on roster

DE Alex Brown (signed through 2011)
DE Adewale Ogunleye (2009)
DE Mark Anderson (2009)
DE Israel Idonije (2009)
DE Ervin Baldwin (2011)
DE Joe Clermond (2010)

Need

If the 2010 draft was three days away, you could be looking at the No. 1 need for the club. The plan is for new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli to have a major impact on the players he's inheriting. That won't do the Bears a lot of good if three of the top four ends are elsewhere after this season. Marinelli believes he has a player who is ready to take a big step in Brown, and that would be worth seeing. You could make a case he has been the most consistent player on the defense over the last several seasons, even during the ill-planned 2007 season when Lovie Smith and Bob Babich put Anderson where he was least effective, in the starting lineup. Brown is a solid two-way player and if Marinelli can have an impact on his pass-rushing ability, right end will not be a need spot for another few years. But as Smith says, you can never have enough players who can pressure the quarterback.

One more Four Down Territory on Friday, so shoot in your questions now. We're going to suspend the Q&A next week (we'll try to get one done) while we're covering Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa. Don't worry, we'll resume in a big way after the season officially comes to an end.

Q: What is your opinion on the running back situation? Do the Bears bring back Kevin Jones or try to turn Garrett Wolfe into their own version of Darren Sproles? Jones was basically on the shelf all year and should be healthier than he was when he joined the roster. Do they draft a running back and cut Jones? Also, what's Roberto Garza's contract situation? I still think that while the line stayed together all year and played better than ANYONE expected, the Bears still need more interior push in the run game. I'm still sold on Olin Kreutz but I'm starting to wonder about Garza.

Ray, Connecticut

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