Full Training Camp Roster Breakdown for the Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are entering the 2013-14 season with a roster stacked with veterans that may be making their last run together.
The Bears have 11 projected starters—including quarterback Jay Cutler—in the last year of their contracts. Four more have two years left on their deals, meaning the Bears could have significant overhaul very soon if they don't contend for a Super Bowl this season.
The Bears offense is full of veterans who should be in their primes as well as a few younger players who could help put them over the top.
Their defense has quite a few players on the wrong side of 30, but also has some talented young players waiting to replace them as the stars.
Overall, the Bears roster is among the most talented in the league. They didn't quite meet expectations last year, and now they're running out of time.
Here you will see a position-by-position breakdown of what the Bears will head into training camp with.
Jay Cutler (No. 6)
In the last year of his contract, both he and the Bears are expecting big things. He's surrounded by more talent than ever before with the Bears, but plenty of question marks still exist. Still, it's up to him to protect the ball better this year. It seems that the Bears will go as far as Cutler takes them.
Josh McCown (No. 12)
Although he's not an ideal backup, McCown has a lot of experience with 50 appearances and over 1,000 passes thrown in his career. Although he's better than many think, he's 34 years old and almost certainly nearing a physical decline. He's thrown 44 interceptions and fumbled 32 times in his carer.
Matt Blanchard (No. 4)
The great unknown. Blanchard won a lot of games in college, but he's not at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater anymore. Although he seems to have an NFL-caliber skill set, players rarely make it from such a small college.
Running Backs (6)
Matt Forte (No. 22)
At his best, Forte is among the most well-rounded running backs in the NFL. His pass-catching ability was mostly unused last season. He needs to improve his short-yardage running, but an improved offensive line would go a long way toward helping him there. With new coach Marc Trestman, Forte should be a big factor in the Bears' offense.
Michael Bush (No. 29)
Mostly used in short-yardage situations last year, Bush brings more than that to the table. Like Forte, he's a good receiver out of the backfield, a skill that wasn't utilized much at all last season. If the Bears can find a way to use both Bush and Forte, they'll have as good of a one-two punch as there is in the league.
Armando Allen (No. 25)
Allen showed quickness last year and is a solid special teams player. His size raises questions of if he could ever be a starting running back, something that could put his roster spot in jeopardy.
Michael Ford (No. 32)
Expected to challenge for Allen's job on special teams and as the third-string running back is Ford. He's bigger and faster than Allen, but he had limited experience in college. He was used mostly outside of the tackles at LSU and rarely as a receiver, so his adjustment to the NFL could be difficult.
Harvey Unga (No. 45)
The former supplemental draft pick had a hard time staying healthy early in his career. Unga put up good rushing and receiving numbers in college at BYU, but he has yet to appear in an NFL game. He has potential, but has never come close to realizing it.
Tony Fiammetta (No. 43)
A former fourth-round pick of the Panthers in 2009, he has been unable to stay on an NFL roster. It seems as if the Bears will use him primarily as a blocker and on special teams. Don't expect him to play a lot, however.
Tight Ends (6)
Martellus Bennett (No. 83)
One of the better all-around tight ends in the league, Bennett is not a polished receiver, but a hard worker by all accounts. If he struggles catching the ball, he should still make an impact as a blocker. He could go down as one of the best free agent signings in recent Bears' history.
Steve Maneri (No. 87)
The converted offensive lineman is expected to replace Matt Spaeth as the team's blocking tight end. Maneri should help open holes in the running game and hold his own as a pass blocker to help keep defenses off-balance.
Kyle Adams (No. 86)
Adams is a fan favorite who has shown very little on the field to this point. Entering his third season as an undrafted free agent, it's time for him to prove he can consistently make plays in the passing game as the past regime thought. He could serve as an H-Back in Trestman's offense.
Fendi Onobun (No. 84)
Onobun is a player fans are excited to see because of his excellent physical characteristics. Although he has the size and speed to be a nightmare for NFL defenses, he has to show he can catch, read defenses and block NFL players before the Bears justify a roster spot for him.
Brody Eldridge (No. 88)
A veteran with 16 career starts with the Indianapolis Colts in 2010 and 2011, Eldridge didn't see the field for the Bears last year. He struggled in his time with the Colts but could become the Bears third tight end.
Gabe Miller (No. 85)
Although raw and athletically gifted, Miller's chances of making the team may have vanished when he was suspended for the first four games for using performance enhancing substances.
Wide Receivers (13)
Brandon Marshall (No. 15)
Marshell is one of the best in the league and maybe the best in team history, despite only playing one season with the Bears so far. He is big and physical, and uses these traits to out-muscle defensive backs. He'll likely see fewer passes thrown his way this year, but—if the Bears' offense works the way it should—the plays he makes will have a bigger impact.
Alshon Jeffery (No. 17)
Jeffery struggled with injuries his rookie season and missed the team's last minicamp with a hamstring injury. He showed he could make plays as a rookie, but now he has to prove he can stay on the field. He also needs to improve his route running and ability to get open without pushing off.
Earl Bennett (No. 80)
He's solid when healthy, but that has been somewhat of a rarity. Bennett has shown exceptional hands and is very good after the catch. He sometimes struggles to get open, but play design should help him with that. Should be a very good fit for the West Coast offense.
Joe Anderson (No. 19)
After going undrafted in 2012, Anderson is a player to watch this year. The second-year player caught 154 passes and 13 touchdowns in 34 games at Texas Southern. He's not the biggest or the fastest, but he's considered to be a hard worker. He was on the practice squad for most of last year, but played special teams in their final three games.
Devin Aromashodu (No. 13)
Aromashodu is hard to figure out, but we should know who he is by the end of training camp. In 2009, he looked like an up-and-comer, catching 22 passes on the Bears' last five games. He caught five more in the 2010 season-opener, but that was half of his total that season. He left the Bears for the Vikings and caught just 37 of the 96 passes thrown his way in two seasons there. So, which player is he? Check back in a few weeks.
Marquess Wilson (No. 10)
The 2013 seventh-round pick has a lot of Bears' fans excited about his future, but it's hard to see him making a major impact this year. Rookie receivers often find it hard to adjust to the NFL, and Wilson is just 20 years old. He has good height, speed and quickness, but lacks strength. He'll be an interesting player to watch with the pads on in camp.
Devin Hester (No. 23)
Hester's NFL career could come down to this. He has to be better returning kicks than he was last year, especially since that appears to be his only job. There's no arguing that Hester was bad last year, but if he can revert back to being the player he was the previous two years, the Bears have a unique weapon.
Eric Weems (No. 14)
A special teams ace who can also return kicks, Weems' small stature is something he'll need to overcome. It seems he could contribute to the offense more as well. Weems appears to be the biggest challenger for Hester's job as a returner. If he doesn't win it, he's still expected to start on all of their kick return and coverage units.
Josh Lenz (No. 11)
Lenz had a very good pro day workout but never had big production at Iowa State. It doesn't appear his speed translates on the field, but the Bears are giving him a chance to disprove that theory.
Marcus Rucker (No. 18)
Rucker is another physically gifted player who didn't produce in college. Despite playing lackluster competition, Rucker caught just 47 catches for 525 yards and three touchdowns at Memphis last season.
Brittan Golden (No. 82)
Golden doesn't have ideal size or speed, but could be a natural receiver. He caught just three passes for the Bears in the 2012 preseason, but showed enough in practice to stick around.
Jerrell Jackson (No. 16)
Jackson didn't make the Jaguars last year, so it's hard to believe he'll catch on with the Bears. He doesn't have great size or speed, but registered a vertical jump of 41 inches and did 22 bench press reps before the 2012 draft.
Terrence Toliver (No. 81)
Listed at 6'5", Toliver could present problems for defenses, especially in the red zone. However, he's been in the league since 2011 and has yet to stick with a team.
Offensive Tackles (5)
Jermon Bushrod (No. 74)
Bushrod was the Bears' biggest free agent signing this offseason; however, those expecting him to completely lock down the left side of their line should lower their expectations. He does make the Bears a better team and has valuable Super Bowl experience. He should have a bigger impact in their run game than as a pass-blocker.
J'Marcus Webb (No. 73)
Webb was much better than he ever got credit for in 2012. At just 23, he should continue to improve as a player, even though he's been switched to the right side. Webb has excellent physical ability, and if he can put it all together, the Bears could have a very good player.
Jonathan Scott (No. 79)
Scott is a veteran with experience at both tackle spots. He started at right tackle for the team at the end of last year, but was a minor upgrade over Gabe Carimi. He should be solid as a third tackle, however.
Jordan Mills (No. 67)
The fifth-round rookie figures to work at tackle and guard. He likely won't see the field much this year, but could be a starter in 2014.
Cory Brandon (No. 76)
The Oklahoma product stuck on the team's practice squad for much of last year. He has great size at 6'7", 324 pounds and could be a project for offensive coordinator/line coach Aaron Kromer.
Offensive Guards (5)
Matt Slauson (No. 68)
The team's most underrated free agent signing could be there best. Slauson was a good player on an excellent New York Jets offensive line, excelling as a pass blocker.
James Brown (No. 78)
As an undrafted rookie, Brown never should have seen the field last year. He was forced into action due to injuries and Chilo Rachel leaving the team, and he struggled. However, he has been impressive so far this season and was singled out by Trestman. Although they spent a first-round pick on another player at the position, the Bears couldn't be too upset if Brown becomes a starting-caliber player.
Kyle Long (No. 75)
Although he's as physically gifted as any guard in the league, Long is also as raw as they come. Ultimately, he's the perfect project for a line guru like Kromer, who plans on implementing a scheme that should take advantage of Long's mobility. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to the NFL after not playing a lot at Oregon last year.
Eben Britton (No. 62)
A former high second-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Britton needs to show he can stay healthy. He's been a good player in the past, but has had a hard time staying on the field. He could already be washed up, as he struggled mightily in his last year with the Jags.
Derek Dennis (No. 64)
Dennis could be another Kromer project, but looks more like he's just a camp body at this point. Has good size and strength, but we won't know much more about him until the pads go on.
Roberto Garza (No. 63)
The aging veteran has struggled moving from guard to center. He still provides leadership on the Bears line and continuity that is going to be important with so many other changing parts.
Edwin Williams (No. 70)
The 26-year-old has experience at center and guard, which could make him a lock for the roster. He's started 10 games with the Bears, all at guard, but has also been their backup center for the last few years.
P.J. Lonergan (No. 53)
The undrafted rookie from LSU started the last three years for the Tigers and could be a future starter for the Bears. Although he doesn't have outstanding physical characteristics, Lonergan was probably good enough to at least get drafted, but slipped through the cracks and ended up with the Bears. He has an excellent opportunity to learn the NFL game from Garza and Kromer.
Taylor Boggs (No. 60)
Boggs was an undrafted free agent in 2011 and has not played a down in the NFL, and I wouldn't expect that to change this year. He suffered a torn ACL as a rookie and is now coming back after missing two years. And you thought Derrick Rose was out a long time.
Patrick Mannelly (No. 65)
Mannelly is one of the best long snappers in the business and the longest tenured Bear. It doesn't seem like Mannelly has ever had a bad snap since coming to the Bears out of Duke in 1998. He's played a franchise record 215 games with the team.
Defensive Ends (8)
Julius Peppers (No. 90)
Peppers had a little bit of a down year in 2012 and age has to be a concern at this point in his career. Still, he produced double-digit sacks despite being double-teamed regularly. The Bears can't afford for him to take another step back this season.
Shea McClellin (No. 99)
The Bears are looking for a big year from the 2012 first-round pick. McClellin showed flashes of being a good pass rusher last season, but was still lacking strength and counter moves. If he can reach his potential, the Bears' defensive line will be scary.
Corey Wootton (No. 98)
After battling injuries for much of his career, Wootton broke out with seven sacks last year. Still, the 6'6", 270-pound Northwestern alum has potential to have a much greater impact in the run game and getting his hands up to bat passes down. The Bears need him to improve in both areas if he's going to replace Israel Idonije.
Cornelius Washington (No. 78)
The 2013 sixth-round pick has the potential to be a star in the league, but showed very little in his collegiate career. The Bears will be moving him to defensive end in their 4-3 scheme, which should be his natural position.
Cheta Ozougwu (No. 95)
Ozougwu showed some natural pass-rush ability in the 2012 preseason. He made the active roster by the end of last season and will have a chance to be there at the start of the 2013 season.
Kyle Moore (No. 67)
Moore played in 12 games and picked up three sacks for the Buffalo Bills last season. He was a fourth-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of USC in 2009. He didn't register a sack in two years there before joining Buffalo in 2011.
Turk McBride (No. 94)
After starting eight games and picking up five sacks for the Detroit Lions in 2010, McBride has been M.I.A. He played in 15 games the last two years for the New Orleans Saints, picking up just two sacks and eight total tackles. Now 28, he seems unlikely to make the team.
Aston Whiteside (No. 71)
Whiteside showed enough in camp last year to get another shot. He didn't make the team a year ago, but showed good burst off the line of scrimmage. He's a long shot to make the team this year, but guys who can get to the quarterback are always worth another look.
Defensive Tackles (8)
Henry Melton (No. 69)
Once a running back in college, Melton has become one of the best defensive tackles in the league. It's expected that he'll play this season under the Franchise Tag in hopes of earning a long-term deal soon. With so many older veterans around him, Melton could be the face of the Bears' defense going forward.
Stephen Paea (No. 92)
Paea quietly had a solid season in 2012, although didn't quite make the impact you'd expect from a second-round pick. He has the tools to become a dominant run defender and solid pass rusher. This will be a crucial year for the third-year player as the Bears head into a transition phase on defense.
Nate Collins (No. 93)
Collins was solid in limited action last year. In his second year with the team it will be interesting to see what he brings to the Bears' defensive line rotation. He'll have some competition for his job, but if he continues to build on last year, the Bears will have a solid rotational player.
Sedrick Ellis (No. 91)
The former first-round pick is looking to revive his career after struggling with New Orleans in recent years. Ellis has talent, and this may be his last chance to show it. If he's as motivated as he should be, he could be a key contributor to the Bears, as Amobi Okoye was two years ago.
Zach Minter (No. 76)
The undrafted free agent has great strength and speed, but coming from Montana State, he'll face a big adjustment to the NFL game. He could be a candidate for the team's practice squad, but is unlikely to make the final roster.
Brent Russell (No. 70)
Russell doesn't have quite the physical skills Minter brings to the table, but was very productive in college. During his career at Georgia Southern, he recorded 54.5 tackles for a loss, 25 sacks and five blocked kicks. He may be a solid nose tackle in the NFL.
Christian Tupou (No. 64)
The USC alum is a little small and slow to play defensive tackle in the NFL, but he's getting a chance to show he belongs.
Corvey Irvin (No. 79)
Unlike Tupou, Irvin has very good measurables, but has yet to stick with a team since coming into the league in 2009.
Lance Briggs (No. 55)
Briggs has been a Pro Bowl-caliber linebacker for years, but will now be asked to take on a leadership role with Brian Urlacher's retirement. He's among the best 4-3 linebackers in the league and that should continue.
D.J. Williams (No. 58)
After missing much of last year to various suspensions, Williams looks like he'll be a good fit for the Bears' defense. Although he's nearing the end of his career, he still has elite speed for a linebacker and should be hungry playing with a one-year contract.
James Anderson (No. 50)
Anderson is a solid linebacker, but his biggest asset to the Bears will be leadership. He'll be called upon to teach 2013 fourth-round pick Khaseem Greene the position, as Greene will likely replace him soon.
Jon Bostic (No. 57)
The 2013 second-round pick is as physically talented as any linebacker in the draft. He brings great size and speed and played on a very good defense at Florida. He doesn't always seem to have a natural feel for the game, but he could start this year if he proves to be a fast learner.
Khaseem Greene (No. 60)
The Rutgers product might be more pro-ready than Bostic. He has good size and speed and packs a punch when he hits. He'll battle Anderson for the starting job on the strong side and play special teams if he falls short.
Blake Costanzo (No. 52)
Costanzo was a very good special teams player for the team a year ago and showed he could fill in at linebacker in his Week 15 start. However, with four newcomers, he'll likely be battling for a roster spot.
J.T. Thomas (No. 97)
Thomas played some special teams for the team last year, and that's likely what he'd be limited to if he made the team this year. He was credited with five tackles and one forced fumble a year ago.
Patrick Trahan (No. 59)
Like Thomas, Trahan played special teams for the Bears, appearing in six games over the last two seasons and making one tackle. It seems Thomas would have the edge on him based on past production and playing time.
Jerry Franklin (No. 53)
The 25-year-old Arkansas grad is an interesting prospect. He was very productive in college, leading the team in tackles all four years and was named second-team All-SEC as a senior. He also showed good athleticism coming into the NFL. He appeared in three games on special teams for the Bears last year.
Lawrence Wilson (No. 49)
Unlike the other linebackers on the roster, the Connecticut grad doesn't have great measurables, as he's the smallest and slowest player at the position. It's hard to see him winning a job on special teams against so many bigger and faster players.
Charles Tillman (No. 33)
Arguably the best player in the league at his position, much of Tillman's popularity comes from his ability to force fumbles as well as anyone. However, he also excels in coverage, run defense and has been known to take interceptions back to the end zone.
Tim Jennings (No. 26)
Jennings broke out with a career-high nine interceptions, earning his first Pro Bowl appearance last year. He's been solid throughout his career with the Bears, but last year was the first time he showed the ball skills they look for. The team is hoping for a repeat performance in 2013 to give the Bears the best coverage duo in the league.
Kelvin Hayden (No. 24)
The biggest weak spot in the Bears' secondary came with Hayden playing as their nickel cornerback last season. The veteran has been inconsistent everywhere he's been and should have to fight for his job this year.
Sherrick McManis (No. 27)
The Northwestern product was a solid special teams player for the Bears last year and has a shot to win Hayden's job in the nickel defense. Although he didn't play any defense for the Bears last year, he does have experience playing for Houston as a rookie in 2010.
Zack Bowman (No. 38)
After a very good start to his NFL career as a cornerback, it seems Bowman has settled in as a special teams player. In his first 17 games as a professional, Bowman intercepted seven passes, including six in 2009. Since then, however, he's struggled every time he's been asked to play defense. He left the Bears after the 2011 season, looking for more playing time, but came back during the 2012 season and gave their special teams a boost.
Isaiah Frey (No. 31)
The 2012 sixth-round pick didn't contribute to the team has a rookie, but he has the size and speed to play in the NFL. After a redshirt year, it will be interesting to see what he brings to the team this season.
C.J. Wilson (No. 39)
It's hard to tell if Wilson was just overlooked in the draft or if scouts determined he can't play in the NFL. Wilson started for three years at N.C. State and had a very good showing at their pro day. That experience combined with athleticism is usually enough to get a player drafted, but Wilson went seven rounds without hearing his name called. It's possible that he just went unnoticed after playing just four games as a senior. The Bears will find out.
Demontre Hurst (No. 30)
Hurst's measurements suggest he could be an ideal slot corner, but may offer little else. It's hard to see him making the team if he isn't able to contribute on special teams.
Major Wright (No. 21)
After struggling with injuries early in his career, Wright broke out in 2013. He registered a career-high 71 tackles and four interceptions as he gave the Bears arguably the best safety play they've had since Mike Brown was in his prime. In a contract year, it will be interesting to see if he continues to excel in 2013.
Chris Conte (No. 47)
Like Wright did last year, it will be interesting to see if Conte breaks out this year. Conte has good size, speed and range, making him a huge asset in coverage. Entering his third year, Conte could be headed for big things.
Craig Steltz (No. 20)
A steady veteran who has always been a good special teams player, Steltz has never been able to crack the lineup. He has always been good for a spot start, but teams eventually learn to take advantage of his lack of athleticism, and he becomes a liability in coverage. He could be battling for a roster spot this season, but he usually finds a way to come out ahead.
Tom Zbikowski (No. 36)
The Notre Dame alum struggled at times with the Indianapolis Colts, but a switch from a 3-4 alignment to playing more Cover 2 could help him. In his seventh year, Zbikowski brings a lot of experience to the table and can play special teams. He will likely battle Steltz for playing time and possibly a roster spot.
Brandon Hardin (No. 35)
A third-round pick in 2012, Hardin hasn't played since the 2011 season at Oregon State. He missed his senior season with a shoulder injury and missed all of his rookie season with a neck injury. The college cornerback has great size and speed. It seems unlikely he'd start at safety for the Bears, but he could play in nickel or dime packages and on special teams.
Tom Nelson (No. 46)
The Illinois State alum is unlikely to make the team, but he has talent and experience. He played 12 games for the Bengals as a rookie in the 2009-10 season, but has had a hard time finding playing time since then.
Cyhl Quarles (No. 44)
Anthony Walters (No. 37)
Walters was an undrafted free agent in 2012, but was forced into the starting lineup due to injuries for the Bears in their last game. He struggled against a very talented Lions team, but that is to be expected. He'll be battling for a roster spot again this year.
Robbie Gould (No. 9)
Gould is one of the best in the history of the league at his position. He was solid for the team again last year, making 84 percent of his field goals and all 33 extra points. Gould is coming off of a pretty serious injury and is now 31 years old. The Bears brought in some competition, but it would be pretty shocking if he didn't win the job.
Austin Signor (No. 2)
While it isn't uncommon for teams to bring in camp legs, it is uncommon for them to sign those players to three-year deals. Maybe it's nothing, but general manager Phil Emery seems like the kind of man who thinks every move out before he makes them. Signor was in minicamp on a tryout basis and must have impressed, earning a three-year deal from the club. It will be interesting to see him kick in pressure situations.
Adam Podlesh (No. 8)
Podlesh's familiarity with new special teams coach Joe DeCamillis from their time in Jacksonville could help him. He struggled with consistency last year, but got better as the season progressed. Despite his struggles, the Bears only allowed 3.4 yards per punt return, by far the best mark in the league.
Tress Way (No. 1)
The Oklahoma product has a big leg. During his collegiate career, he launched 71 punts over 50 yards, including a career long of 85. However, he wasn't very accurate, and that is something the Bears expect to put a premium on. It would be a big surprise to see him beat out Podlesh.