Projected Chicago Bears' Final 53-Man Roster, Pre-Training Camp Edition
In less than a week, the Chicago Bears will be reporting to training camp, which will give players their biggest opportunity to make an impression on the coaching staff and to solidify a spot on the roster.
While some players already have a roster spot nailed down for 2014, many will be fighting for a spot during the team's three-week training camp in Bourbonnais, Illinois.
On top of training camp practices and meetings, players will also have an opportunity to impress during the four preseason games, beginning with the matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles on August 8.
During the evaluation process, general manager Phil Emery and head coach Marc Trestman will have the difficult task of trimming the current 90-man roster down to 53 before the start of the regular season.
Here is the projected Chicago Bears final 53-man roster, pre-training camp edition.
- Jay Cutler
- Jimmy Clausen
- David Fales (Rookie)
After years of trying to find their franchise quarterback, the Chicago Bears have made the commitment to stick with Jay Cutler for the foreseeable future.
He signed a seven-year deal this offseason and will look to build off a strong but injury-filled season in 2013.
He started just 11 games last season but showed flashes of what he can do in Marc Trestman's offense. The most important thing for him in 2014 will be staying on the field, something he has struggled with throughout his tenure in Chicago.
He started all 16 games in 2009, his first with the team, but he hasn't been able to replicate that feat since. He did miss just a start each in 2012 and 2010 but missed five starts last season and six in 2011.
In an interview on SiriusXM NFL radio earlier this offseason, via the Chicago Tribune's Rich Campbell, Trestman noted that Cutler has worked hard to improve his durability this offseason:
Jay has really worked hard in the offseason, and he has always been a hard worker in his conditioning and his training, but he has really amped it up. He’s bigger, he’s stronger than a year ago, and he has really focused on staying physically well for the entire season.
That’s No. 1 — we’ve got to keep him standing, keep him safe. And we see the improvements he’s made in working on different issues in his mechanics, and I think he’s feeling very comfortable back there in Year 2.
Cutler's health is the single-most important aspect of the offense in 2014. While Josh McCown filled in admirably when Cutler was hurt last season, big things are expected this season.
If Cutler were to go down, the likely No. 2 would be Jimmy Clausen.
He was a late addition to the squad during the team's final minicamp in June, but he impressed the coaching staff enough to get an invite to training camp, according to the Chicago Tribune's Rich Campbell.
Jimmy Clausen in only 6 practices convinced the Bears he could possibly beat Jordan Palmer for the backup QB spot. All eyes on JC6's health.— Rich Campbell (@Rich_Campbell) June 20, 2014
Clausen will face stiff competition from veteran Jordan Palmer, who has spent the majority of the past year with the team and likely has a better grasp of the offense.
The one benefit of keeping Clausen around is that he has logged 10 career starts to Palmer's zero, and at just 26 years old, he still has room to grow under Trestman.
The third and final quarterback spot will likely go to rookie David Fales. The Bears carried just two quarterbacks for the majority of last season, but after drafting Fales in the sixth round, the team is unlikely to risk losing him by placing him on the practice squad.
Running Backs (4)
- Matt Forte
- Ka'Deem Carey (Rookie)
- Michael Ford
- Tony Fiammetta (Fullback)
Matt Forte, Ka'Deem Carey and fullback Tony Fiammetta are likely the three locks at the running back position, which leaves a handful of players to fight for a final roster spot in 2014.
Despite turning 29 later this year, Forte has shown no signs of slowing down, but the team did draft Carey in the fourth round to help reduce the heavy workload that Forte has endured over the past six seasons.
With Forte and Carey in place, Michael Ford, Jordan Lynch, Senorise Perry and Shaun Draughn are set to compete at training camp for the third running back spot.
Lynch and Perry are both undrafted free agents who will have to prove they can cut it on special teams and in pass protection.
While they appear to be candidates for the practice squad, Draughn will face his toughest competition from second-year man Ford.
He made the 53-man roster last season as an undrafted free agent, appearing in 12 games and finishing with three special teams tackles and five kickoff returns for 37 yards.
Ford understands that it will be difficult to make this roster with the new influx of talent. He told Gavin Crowell of the Chicago Sun-Times, “Right now, my mindset is doing whatever it takes to stay with the team.”
Even with the influx of talent at the position, Ford has a leg up because of his time spent with the Bears last season and his ability to contribute on special teams. He will look to claim the kickoff return job.
Wide Receivers (6)
- Brandon Marshall
- Alshon Jeffery
- Marquess Wilson
- Josh Morgan
- Chris Williams
- Eric Weems
After receiving Pro Bowl honors last season, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery will once again be Jay Cutler's main targets in 2014.
While Marshall and Jeffery saw all of the attention last season, the Bears will look to integrate second-year man Marquess Wilson into the offense.
Wilson's role should expand with the team's release of veteran Earl Bennett earlier this season, and head coach Marc Trestman is looking forward to seeing him in the offense. He told the media as much at the NFL owners' meeting earlier this year, via Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune:
I think he showed that we can work with him and develop him. He’s got the football intelligence that we’re looking for and the ability to be flexible within the offense. He was consistent. So we’ll see how it goes. We’re not anointing people at this point in time. He’s going to have a chance to compete and be a part of what we do after Alshon and Brandon (Marshall). We’ll see how it goes. We’ve got a long way to go but we like (Wilson) and we’re excited about him to develop him and work him.
If Wilson should stumble in training camp, veteran Josh Morgan appears to be the next logical choice to overtake the third wide receiver position. In six NFL seasons, he has caught 199 passes for 2,488 yards and 11 touchdowns. 2010 was his most productive season, as he corralled 44 passes for 698 yards and two touchdowns.
Not long after signing with the Bears, Morgan was arrested on charges of assault in Washington, D.C. He pleaded not guilty, and when asked by Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times if the situation had been taken care of, he responded, "Pretty much. It is over with."
Both Chris Williams and Eric Weems provide the team with more-than-capable kick returners; they also have experience in all phases of special teams.
Tight Ends (2)
- Martellus Bennett
- Dante Rosario
There is no doubt that Martellus Bennett will once again be the team's main target at the tight end position in 2014.
He finished the 2013 season with 65 catches for 759 yards with five touchdowns and proved to be a reliable red-zone target for both Jay Cutler and Josh McCown. Along with his abilities as a pass catcher, Bennett is an underrated blocker, and those abilities should once again pay dividends in the running game.
The team kept just two tight ends on the roster in 2013, and that will likely be the same in 2014.
Dante Rosario, Matthew Mulligan, Zach Miller and Jeron Mastrud will all be competing for the final tight end spot.
Rosario was acquired in a trade last season and spent most of his time on special teams. He did get onto the field at times as a blocking tight end and recorded one reception for 13 yards.
The one common trait among the four men who are competing for the final spot is they are all viewed more as blockers than pass-catchers.
Mulligan may be the most intriguing because of his experience (nine NFL seasons), but Rosario's familiarity with the system may be enough to keep him on the roster.
Offensive Line (9)
- Jermon Bushrod
- Matt Slauson
- Roberto Garza
- Kyle Long
- Jordan Mills
- Eben Britton
- Brian de la Puente
- James Brown
- Joe Long
After struggling for years to find adequate protection for Jay Cutler along the offensive line, the Bears finally found the perfection combination in 2013.
Jermon Bushrod, Matt Slauson, Roberto Garza, Kyle Long and Jordan Mills will likely reclaim their starting jobs this season, while Eben Britton and Brian de la Puente appear to be locks as backups. That leaves a handful of talented players to fight for two openings.
While the team added competition when it drafted Charles Leno Jr. in the seventh round and added undrafted free agents Ryan Groy and Cody Booth, James Brown's versatility should help land him a backup role in 2014.
One of the final spots will come down to a competition between tackles Michael Ola and Joe Long.
Long spent time on the 53-man roster last season, and the team appears to be high on him and his abilities as a backup at left tackle. The brother of St. Louis Rams left tackle Jake Long, he has the athleticism for the position but is still very raw and needs to improve his technique.
Ola started five games for the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League in 2012 with current Bears head coach Marc Trestman at the helm.
Just like Brown, Ola has the flexibility to play both guard and tackle, but because of Long's potential at both tackle positions, he will likely get the nod.
Defensive Line (10)
- Lamarr Houston
- Jared Allen
- Willie Young
- Jeremiah Ratliff
- Ego Ferguson (Rookie)
- Will Sutton (Rookie)
- Nate Collins
- Stephen Paea
- David Bass
- Trevor Scott
No position group on Chicago's roster has been overhauled this offseason quite like the defensive line.
After the defense finished last season as the worst against the run in the NFL, general manager Phil Emery made it a point to improve not only the run defense but the pass rush.
Emery wasted little time once free agency began, signing defensive ends Lamarr Houston and Willie Young to long-term deals on the first day of free agency. Not long after those signings, Emery struck again by signing veteran Jared Allen.
All three immediately improve the team's ability to stop the run. Allen's presence alone should help boost the sack totals.
On the interior, veterans Jeremiah Ratliff, Nate Collins and Stephen Paea will work in a rotation with rookies Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton.
Ratliff and Paea are the likely starters at the 3-technique and nose tackle positions, respectively, but Collins, Ferguson and Sutton should all see ample playing time this season.
Rounding out the final two spots on the roster are two former Oakland Raiders castoffs.
David Bass showed flashes of his potential last season and should be able to carve out a niche as a situational pass-rusher. If he can improve his run defense, he may be able to push for more playing time this season.
Trevor Scott has bounced around the league since being drafted in the sixth round of the 2008 draft by the Oakland Raiders. He recorded 12 sacks during his first two seasons playing both linebacker and defensive end before an ACL injury ended his 2010 season.
He spent the 2012 season with the New England Patriots, recording three sacks, and played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season. Despite being overshadowed by guys like Allen, Young and Houston, he's appreciative of the opportunity he's been given in Chicago.
"I was very fortunate the Bears called in the offseason," he told Arthur Arkush of ChicagoFootball.com. "Everything has gone pretty smooth. It was nice to get into an offseason program this year, just learning about what 'The Bear Way' is."
Scott does offer plenty of flexibility. He played defensive end and outside linebacker as well as contributed on special teams during his six NFL seasons.
Scott and Bass will be competing with guys like Austen Lane, Cornelius Washington, Tracy Robertson and Jamil Merrell for the final two spots, but their experience at defensive end and special teams should nab them the final spots.
- Lance Briggs
- Shea McClellin
- Jon Bostic
- D.J. Williams
- Christian Jones (Rookie)
- Khaseem Greene
In one of the most wide-open competitions of training camp, only Lance Briggs is guaranteed a spot heading into the Week 1 of the regular season.
Emery on LB position: "Best players win." Lance Briggs is the only one that has a starting job right now.— Zach Zaidman (@ZachZaidman) May 11, 2014
After years of having Brian Urlacher hold down the middle of the field at the middle linebacker position, the 2013 Bears saw what life was like without him.
Veteran D.J. Williams took over the middle linebacker job and played well until an injury ended his season in Week 6. He is expected to reclaim that job again this offseason.
One of the more interesting competitions will be at strong-side linebacker with converted defensive end Shea McClellin competing with second-year man Jon Bostic for the starting job.
McClellin and Bostic appear to be locks at the position, which leaves Khaseem Greene, Christian Jones, Jerry Franklin, DeDe Lattimore, Conor O'Neill and Jordan Senn to compete for what will likely only be two remaining spots.
Despite his struggles in his rookie season, Greene will likely make the roster.
While Franklin and Senn both offer experience on special teams, the potential of undrafted free agent Christian Jones should be enough for him to make the roster.
A once projected mid-round pick, Jones reportedly failed a drug test at the NFL combine in February, according to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer (h/t Orlando Sentinel), which likely caused him to go undrafted. He has the flexibility to play all three linebacker positions but is best suited on the strong side. As long as he can prove his worth on special teams, it is unlikely that the team would be willing to lose him.
- Charles Tillman
- Tim Jennings
- Kyle Fuller (Rookie)
- Isaiah Frey
- Kelvin Hayden
- Sherrick McManis
While Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings and Kyle Fuller are all locks to make the roster this season, there likely will not be much of a competition to determine the final three roster spots.
Tillman and Jennings will reclaim their role as starters with Fuller expected to play on the outside in nickel situations with Jennings moving inside.
Interesting development today was Tim Jennings playing nickel when Kyle Fuller came in. Jennings was still No. 2 CB in base D. #Bears— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) May 27, 2014
Isaiah Frey and Kelvin Hayden both seem like logical choices to make the roster. Frey played all 16 games last season as the nickelback, and Hayden has experience as both a starter and a nickelback; however, he is recovering from a hamstring injury that caused him to miss all of last season.
The team kept just five cornerbacks last season, but assuming Chicago does not keep a roster spot open solely for a return man like it did last season with Devin Hester, the team may keep an additional cornerback for help on special teams.
The likely candidate to stick on the roster is four-year veteran Sherrick McManis, who was praised by special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis for his tackling ability.
LM: #Bears ST coordinator Joe DeCamillis on McManis: "Anytime you get a corner who is a good tough tackler, that's a huge plus."— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) March 19, 2014
McManis has played in 27 games for the team since being traded to Chicago prior to the start of the 2012 season, registering 11 special teams tackles.
- Ryan Mundy
- Brock Vereen (Rookie)
- Chris Conte
- Craig Steltz
Despite the need to improve the safety position, general manager Phil Emery opted to improve his defensive line in the hopes that added pressure up front would alleviate the pressure placed on the safeties.
The starting safety duo last season of Chris Conte and Major Wright struggled, and the team opted not to bring Wright back. Conte remains with the team, but after offseason shoulder surgery his return for training camp is up in the air.
"Yes, he may be on PUP [to start training camp]," Emery said of Conte to the media this offseason, per ESPN.com. "But in terms of that first preseason game, we expect him to be [ready]. Obviously we're talking about a healing and rehab process. It's always a little bit of a non-predictor, but our best-guessed estimate and medical evidence would say that he'll be ready for the first preseason game."
With Conte sidelined, rookie Brock Vereen has stepped into the free safety role, alongside offseason free-agent signing Ryan Mundy at strong safety.
Looked like Ryan Mundy and rookie 4th rd pick Brock Vereen running exclusively with the starters at safety today. Vereen at FS.— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) June 11, 2014
Not only will Conte have to prove he is healthy, but he will also need to prove he can bounce back from his bad 2013 season.
“I’m always going to remember [last season], but it’s just something to grow from,” Conte said to the media after the Bears' first day of OTAs, via Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times. “You’ve got to move on. You can’t worry about [stuff] for the rest of your life.”
To address the strong safety position, the team signed Ryan Mundy to a long-term deal this offseason, and it appears he is the front-runner for the starting job.
The team re-signed veteran Craig Steltz and signed veteran Danny McCray earlier this offseason. Chicago also most recently signed five-time Pro Bowler Adrian Wilson to a one-year deal.
Steltz and McCray both give the team stellar special teams contributions but haven't had much success as starters in the NFL. Wilson was, at one time, one of the best strong safeties in the game, but age and injuries have caught up with him in recent years. This may be his final opportunity to prove he can still play at a high level.
Since Mundy appears to have a lock on the strong safety job and Wilson likely will not add much on special teams, Steltz should get the nod for the final safety spot because he can play strong safety and be a major contributor on special teams.
Special Teams (3)
- Robbie Gould (Kicker)
- Pat O'Donnell (Punter)
- Brandon Hartson (Long snapper)
After signing an extension prior to the end of last season, Robbie Gould will remain the kicker for the foreseeable future.
While he is a lock at his position, both the punter and long snapper positions will be subject to competition in training camp.
The team released punter Adam Podlesh earlier this offseason and drafted Pat O'Donnell in the sixth round of this past May's draft, leaving him to compete with second-year man Tress Way.
After punting for three years at Cincinnati, O'Donnell transferred to Miami as a fifth-year senior prior to the 2013 season. During his three seasons at Cincinnati, he punted 181 times for 7,670 yards. During his one season in Miami, he punted 53 times for 2,498 yards. During his four collegiate seasons, his career average was a terrific 43.45 yards per punt.
Way had his moments in training camp last season, but considering that the team used a sixth-round pick on O'Donnell, it appears likely that the rookie will win the job.
After 16 seasons of having Patrick Mannelly at the long snapper position, the team will now look to find his replacement after he announced his retirement earlier this offseason.
The Bears signed Brandon Hartson and Chad Rempel to compete to be his replacement, and while the team hasn't given any indication who the front-runner is, Hartson spent part of last season with the team and will likely claim the job out of training camp.
Full Roster List
Tony Fiammetta (Fullback)
Brian de la Puente