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A Look at the Potential Fifty-Three on Memorial Day Weekend

| May 25th, 2014

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UPDATE: SOMEHOW I DIDN’T COPY OVER MY FULLBACK COLUMN WHEN POSTING. THIS IS NOW DONE.

Here is the breakdown of the 2013 Chicago Bears roster as they broke August and headed for the regular season:

Quarterbacks (2): Jay CutlerJosh McCown

Running backs (3): Michael Bush, Michael Ford, Matt Forte

Fullbacks (1): Tony Fiammetta

Wide receivers (6): Joe AndersonEarl BennettAlshon JefferyBrandon MarshallEric Weems, Marquess Wilson

Tight ends (3): Kyle Adams, Martellus Bennett, Steve Maneri

Offensive linemen (9): Taylor Boggs, Eben Britton, James Brown, Jermon BushrodRoberto Garza, Kyle Long, Jordan Mills, Jonathan Scott, Matt Slauson

Defensive linemen (9): Nate CollinsShea McClellinHenry Melton, Zach Minter, Cheta Ozougwu,Stephen PaeaJulius Peppers, Cornelius Washington, Corey Wootton

Linebackers (6): James Anderson, Jon Bostic, Lance BriggsBlake Costanzo, Khaseem Greene, D.J. Williams.

Cornerbacks (6): Zackary Bowman, Isaiah FreyTim JenningsSherrick McManisCharles Tillman, C.J. Wilson

Safeties (4): Chris Conte, Craig Steltz, Anthony Walters, Major Wright

Specialists (4): Robbie GouldDevin HesterPatrick MannellyAdam Podlesh

Understanding how much can change over the next three months, let’s try and project  what this year’s 53 might look like and identify what camp battles might truly exist in Bourbonnais. One thing that’ll surprise you? There are very few questions.

Quarterbacks

A year ago the Bears kept two but I think they liked what they saw from David Fales last weekend and will continue to like what they see this summer. Sliding Fales onto the practice squad is a definitive risk if the team believes he can be a long-term answer at backup QB. I don’t think they take the risk.

Jay Cutler, Jordan Palmer, David Fales (3)

Running Backs

Forte and rookie Ka’Deem Carey are locks. Michael Ford has experience in the system. Phil Emery went and got Shaun Draughn so we know the player has something he likes. Jordan Lynch is a barrel of potential but what are the chances that potential can be harnessed in a few months. I say Lynch lands on the practice squad.

Matt Forte, Ka’Deem Carey, Michael Ford (3)

Fullback

Tony Fiammetta (1)

Tight Ends

Let’s be honest, the Bears are going to give Fendi Onobun every opportunity to become a professional football player. But until he can prove his hands are not made of granite, it ain’t happening. And unless the Bears can replace their Zach Miller with one from Seattle, I don’t see either man being able to usurp two solid professionals in Mulligan and Rosario.

Martellus Bennett, Matthew Mulligan, Dante Rosario (3)

Wide Receivers

There are some legitimate battles to be had at the bottom end of the receiver position and it’ll most likely come down to special teams contribution. Does Chris Williams make the roster as a kick return specialist or is he going to be a legitimate wide receiver? Do the Bears really need Hixon and Weems on the same roster? Does Josh Morgan have anything left? I say Hixon is odd man out.

Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Marquess Wilson, Chris Williams, Eric Weems, Josh Morgan (6)

Offensive Line

Roberto Garza, Brian de la Puente, Kyle Long, Matt Slauson, Jordan Mills, Jermon Bushrod, Eben Britton, James Brown (8)

I don’t see them going nine again. Taylor Boggs is a young talent but can the Bears really keep three centers? Are Ryan Groy or Charles Leno going to get enough meaningful reps to make a summer impact? The versatility of Brown, Britton and Garza makes a ninth OL unnecessary.

Defensive Line

Bears go with ten this year and I only see one available position to be contested by Austen Lane, Cornelius Washington and David Bass on the outside. And I can’t get the image of Bass picking off Joe Flacco and returning it for a touchdown out of my head. It was the rare 2013 highlight for a member of the Bears defensive line and with Bass being younger than Washington, I’d be gambling on his potential.

Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young, Will Sutton, Nate Collins, Jay Ratliff, Ego Ferguson, Stephen Paea, Israel Idonije, David Bass (10)

Linebackers

The moment the Bears signed Christian Jones as an undrafted free agent, I penciled him onto the fifty-three man roster. If the Bears get a healthy Williams and Briggs, they will have a band of young, athletic linebackers to send at the quarterback on a consistent basis. I kinda like it.

Lance Briggs, D.J. Williams, Jon Bostic, Shea McClellin, Khaseem Greene, Christian Jones (6)

Side note: I’m assuming Blake Costanzo is gone as the Bears have given his number away but he has not, to the best of my information, signed anywhere else. If the Bears end up bringing Costanzo back, I think the road to the fifty-three gets more difficult for Jones.

Cornerbacks

Is C.J. Wilson versus Sherrick McManis enough to book your trip to Bourbonnais? McManis is far too valuable on specials for this to be an actual camp battle.

Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings, Kyle Fuller, Kelvin Hayden, Isaiah Frey, Sherrick McManis (6)  

Safeties

For a position that is now the Bears only true weakness, there is surprisingly little competition. I think Vereen and Mundy are the week one starters, by the way

M.D. Jennings, Ryan Mundy, Craig Steltz, Brock Vereen (4)

Side note: Thanks to the comments for reminding me of the existence of Chris Conte. I know the Bears have said otherwise but I expect Conte to start the year on PUP.

Specialists

Pat O’Donnell would need a nightmare summer to not be the starting punter against Buffalo.

Pat O’Donnell, Robbie Gould, Patrick Mannelly…because he has to. (3)

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That’s my fifty-three as of today.

I leave it to your comments.

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