Chicago Bears: Immediate 53-Man Roster Cut Predictions Post-Browns Game

Matt EurichAnalyst IAugust 29, 2014

Chicago Bears: Immediate 53-Man Roster Cut Predictions Post-Browns Game

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    USA TODAY Sports

    With their 33-13 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night, the Chicago Bears finished off the preseason with a 2-2 record.

    Now that the preseason is done, the front office and coaching staff will have to trim their roster from 75 players to 53 by 4 p.m. ET this Saturday.

    Since the conclusion of the Bears' game against the Seattle Seahawks last Friday, the team has already released 15 players from their roster, most notably Jordan Palmer, Isaiah Frey, Nate Collins and James Brown, via Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com.

    While many spots on the roster are givens, many of the spots near the bottom of the roster have been part of a wide-open competition throughout much of training camp and the preseason.

    Thursday night's contest against the Browns gave many players on the bubble a final opportunity to prove they belong on this roster.

    Here is our immediate 53-man roster cut predictions for the Chicago Bears following the preseason finale against the Cleveland Browns.

Quarterback

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    Projected Cuts: David Fales

    Final Roster: Jay Cutler and Jimmy Clausen 

    Following the team's release of Jordan Palmer earlier in the week, the quarterback position now has more clarity heading into the season.

    There is no doubt Jay Cutler is the starter and Jimmy Clausen is the backup, but after a nice showing Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns, rookie David Fales may be in the running for a spot on the 53-man roster.

    The team could try to pass him through waivers to put him on the practice squad, but considering they spent a sixth-round pick on him, they may not want to risk losing him.

    He finished Thursday night's game going 13-of-24 for 146 yards with one touchdown and one interception. 

    He did show an ability to push the ball down the field but also struggled to elude pass-rushers and appeared to hold on to the ball too long.

    Out of all of the decisions that need to be made near the bottom of the roster, the decision on Fales may be one of the toughest for head coach Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery.

    While he didn't blow people away with his performance Thursday night, he still played a solid game and showed he has the potential to develop into a solid backup quarterback.

    Despite Fales' potential, the team has far greater needs on special teams than it does at the quarterback position right now, and they may be better served using his roster spot on someone who can contribute right away.

Running Back

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    Projected Cuts: Senorise Perry and Jordan Lynch

    Final Roster: Matt Forte, Shaun Draughn, Ka'Deem Carey and Tony Fiammetta (Fullback)

    Heading into the final preseason game, the running back position may have been the easiest group to predict.

    There is no question Matt Forte will once again sit atop the depth chart this season after finishing second in the NFL in rushing in 2013 with 1,339 yards.

    Before the start of training camp, the biggest question surrounding the running backs group was who would be Forte's main backup.

    Despite drafting Ka'Deem Carey in the fourth round, the Bears let veterans Shaun Draughn and Michael Ford compete with Carey to be Forte's backup.

    Both Carey and Draughn have showed flashes throughout training camp and the preseason, resulting in the team waiving Ford after their preseason Week 3 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks, via the Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs:

    #Bears have informed RB Michael Ford he will be placed on waivers. Made the team last year as an undrafted free agent.

    — Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) August 23, 2014

    With the inclusion of fullback Tony Fiammetta, the Bears will likely keep four running backs on the roster, leaving undrafted rookies Senorise Perry and Jordan Lynch off of the roster.

    Both had six carries against the Cleveland Browns Thursday night, with Perry rushing for 14 yards and Lynch rushing for 18 yards.

    Prior to Thursday night's game, head coach Marc Trestman commented on how it was going to be a big night for Perry.

    "He's flashed for us," Trestman said, via Larry Mayer of ChicagoBears.com. "He's had a couple of good games in the reps that he's had, both in the kicking game and running the football. He's going to get that chance again to run the football on Thursday night."

    While Perry got the opportunity to get some significant playing time in the first half, he likely was not able to do enough to justify using a roster spot on a guy who will play very little this season.

    Despite finishing third in the Heisman Trophy voting last year, Lynch never got much of a chance to get onto the field until late Thursday night. Because of how raw he is as a running back, he is the type of player who would benefit from some time on the practice squad.

Wide Receiver

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    Projected Cuts: Josh Bellamy, Micheal Spurlock, Armanti Edwards and Dale Moss

    Final Roster: Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Marquess Wilson, Santonio Holmes, Josh Morgan and Chris Williams

    There is no doubt Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery will once again be the stars of Chicago's offense this season.

    The two receivers combined for 2,716 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2013, second-most in the NFL behind the Denver BroncosEric Decker and Demaryius Thomas.

    With Marshall and Jeffery firmly atop the depth chart, the team has been looking for their No. 3 receiver all summer.

    It was expected that second-year man Marquess Wilson would take a hold of the position in training camp, but after suffering a broken clavicle back on Aug. 4, his return is still up in the air.

    There was hope Chris Williams would push veteran Josh Morgan for the position, but a hamstring injury against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2 of the preseason slowed down the former CFL star's progress.

    Williams should make the roster as a kick returner, while Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times believes Josh Morgan is the likely No. 3 because he did not participate in the final preseason game against the Cleveland Browns:

    Josh Morgan not wearing pads. So there's your third receiver? Santonio Holmes will play tonight

    — Patrick Finley (@patrickfinley) August 28, 2014

    In order to help solidify the position, the team signed veteran Santonio Holmes earlier this month, via Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune:

    It's a one-year deal for Santonio Holmes with the Bears, as expected. He has the next two weeks really to prove he fits.

    — Dan Wiederer (@danwiederer) August 16, 2014

    Wiederer's tweet mentioned Holmes would have two weeks to prove he fits with the team. While he didn't blow away his competition in the preseason, he immediately gives the team a proven veteran who has the ability to return punts and has a knack for big plays.

    Just as Morgan did not dress Thursday night against Cleveland, kick returner Micheal Spurlock also did not dress, via Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times:

    WR/KR Micheal Spurlock doesn't appear to be playing tonight either for the #Bears. Has he made the cut?

    — Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) August 28, 2014

    It seems odd that Spurlock didn't dress, considering it did not appear he did enough in the preseason to warrant a roster spot. Williams' upside alone should help him claim the final roster spot over Spurlock.

    Despite a strong outing on Thursday night against the Browns in which he hauled in four catches for 78 yards, it seems unlikely that Josh Bellamy will make the roster unless the team places Marquess Wilson on injured reserve. 

Tight End

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Projected Cuts: Jeron Mastrud

    Final Roster: Martellus Bennett, Matthew Mulligan and Dante Rosario

    After hauling in 65 catches for 759 yards and five touchdowns in 2013, tight end Martellus Bennett will once again be the Bears' No. 1 tight end this season.

    The team has spent much of training camp and the preseason trying to determine who will back him up this season.

    After a strong start to the preseason against the Philadelphia Eagles, veteran Zach Miller injured his foot against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second preseason game and was placed on injured reserve, via ChicagoFootball.com's Jeff Arnold

    The #Bears have replaced tight end Zach Miller on injured reserve after sustaining foot injury vs. Jags http://t.co/MDym8leI2N

    — Jeff Arnold (@JeffArnold_CF) August 15, 2014

    With Miller out, Matthew Mulligan, Dante Rosario and Jeron Mastrud have all been competing to claim one or two open spots at the position. 

    After spending all of the 2013 season with the team, Rosario will likely return as the backup behind Bennett because of his pass-blocking ability and familiarity with the offense.

    It is unknown how many tight ends the team is going to keep, but they did start off the 2013 season with three tight ends before releasing veteran Steve Maneri in October.

    Mulligan may end up being one of the last players to claim a spot on the roster for this upcoming season. While he has shown this preseason that he can catch the football, Mulligan is best known for his blocking ability.

    If the team does opt to keep three tight ends, Mastrud may wind up being the odd man out. He saw his reps increase following the injury to Miller, but he failed to capitalize on the opportunity.

Offensive Line

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Projected Cuts: Dennis Roland, Taylor Boggs and Ryan Groy

    Final Roster: Jermon Bushrod, Matt Slauson, Roberto Garza, Kyle Long, Jordan Mills, Michael Ola, Eben Britton, Brian de la Puente, Charles Leno Jr.

    The biggest question regarding Chicago's offensive line heading into the regular season is going to be its health.

    Jermon Bushrod, Matt Slauson, Roberto Garza and Kyle Long are all expected to start Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills, but Jordan Mills, a 16-game starter from 2013, failed to get onto the field during the preseason, via Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times:

    RT Jordan Mills without his pads and helmet during warmups. Looks like he'll go the whole preseason without a snap for the #Bears.

    — Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) August 28, 2014

    In Mills' absence, Michael Ola has played well at right tackle and could be the starter if Mills is not ready for Week 1.

    Along with the injury to Mills, backups Eben Britton and Brian de la Puente have both missed time because of injuries. Because of their injuries, offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer has said it has been difficult to evaluate the offensive line, via Bob LeGere of the Daily Herald:

    #Bears OC Aaron Kromer said Injuries to Jordan Mills, Eben Britton, Brian de la Puente have made it difficult to evaluate O-line.

    — Bob LeGere (@BobLeGere) August 26, 2014

    While a lot of the focus has been placed on the team's injuries along the offensive line, rookie Charles Leno Jr. has impressed at times this offseason, via Josh Norris of Rotoworld.com:

    Was impressed again with #Bears T Charles Leno Jr. Think he'll be a quality swing T, at least.

    — Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 18, 2014

    Leno will likely grab the final spot along the offensive line, leaving Dennis Roland, Taylor Boggs and Ryan Groy to get cut.

    Undrafted this year out of Wisconsin, Groy may end up being a player considered for the practice squad. 

Defensive Line

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    Projected Cuts: Austen Lane, Tracy Robertson, Brandon Dunn, Lee Pegues 

    Final Roster: Jared Allen, Willie Young, Lamarr Houston, Stephen Paea, Jeremiah Ratliff, Ego Ferguson, Will Sutton, Trevor Scott, David Bass and Cornelius Washington

    This offseason for the Chicago Bears was all about improving the defensive line.

    After adding guys like Jared Allen, Willie Young and Lamarr Houston in free agency, general manager Phil Emery also added Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton in the draft. All five are expected to be major contributors this season.

    Along with the five new additions, Stephen Paea and Jeremiah Ratliff are locks to make the roster, leaving Trevor Scott, David Bass, Cornelius Washington, Austen Lane, Tracy Robertson, Brandon Dunn and Lee Pegues to fight it out for a handful of remaining spots.

    Out of that second group of players, Trevor Scott has arguably had the best offseason and was not in pads Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns, typically a good sign for a guy in the final preseason game, via Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune:

    #Bears DE Trevor Scott is not playing. Neither is OL Michael Ola. Again, good signs for them looking ahead to final cuts.

    — Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) August 28, 2014

    While Scott has been productive this entire offseason, both David Bass and Cornelius Washington have stepped up their play in recent weeks.

    Bass played a productive game against the Cleveland Browns, often applying pressure to quarterback Johnny Manziel. He finished the game with six tackles and one sack.

    Washington finished the game against Cleveland with one quarterback hit and three tackles, but Rotoworld.com's Josh Norris was most impressed by Washington's ability to get in the backfield against the Jacksonville Jaguars, evident by this tweet:

    This is why we liked you, Cornelius Washington pic.twitter.com/e1q4Wk1xxW

    — Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 18, 2014

    670TheScore.com's Dan Durkin thought both Bass and Washington helped their cases Thursday night against the Browns:

    Bubble guys who have made a strong statement tonight: David Bass, Cornelius Washington, Christian Jones, Josh Bellamy. #Bears

    — dan durkin (@djdurkin) August 29, 2014

    Presuming Bass and Washington make the roster, that will put the team at 10 defensive linemen, leaving Lane, Robertson, Dunn and Pegues on the outside looking in.  

Linebacker

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    Projected Cuts: DeDe Lattimore and Jerry Franklin

    Final Roster: Lance Briggs, D.J. Williams, Jon Bostic, Shea McClellin, Khaseem Greene and Christian Jones

    Unlike the other positions on the roster, the linebacker corps may be one of the easiest to determine.

    Veterans Lance Briggs and D.J. Williams will once again reprise their roles at weak-side and middle linebacker this season with Shea McClellin and Jon Bostic set to split time at strong-side linebacker.

    McClellin and Bostic have both had their share of ups and downs this preseason, but they appear to be the best option at the position moving forward.

    With those four linebackers in place, second-year man Khaseem Greene and rookie Christian Jones appear to be the most logical choices to fill out the roster.

    Greene was thrust into the starting lineup last season due to injuries and struggled, but he has looked improved out on the field in the preseason. He will start the season as the backup to Briggs at weak-side linebacker and should be a major contributor on special teams. 

    While a bit raw, Jones has flashed at both the middle and weak-side linebacker positions. Thursday against the Cleveland Browns he also showed he has the ability to produce on special teams, via 670TheScore.com's Dan Durkin:

    Christian Jones' block allowed Holmes to make that first cut upfield. Special teams play tonight will decide roster spots. #Bears

    — dan durkin (@djdurkin) August 29, 2014

    By keeping Greene and Jones on the roster, veteran Jerry Franklin and undrafted rookie DeDe Lattimore may be left to look for work elsewhere.

    Lattimore could wind up on the team's practice squad after having a strong showing against the Cleveland Browns, via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times:

    Big game tonight for USF's DeDe Lattimore, undrafted rookie linebacker who had game-high nine tackles for Bears in loss to Browns.

    — Greg Auman (@gregauman) August 29, 2014

    Franklin played in 10 games last season for the Bears, mostly on special teams. While he would be a welcomed addition on special teams, the Bears simply do not have room for someone who can only play special teams.

Secondary

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    Projected Cuts: Demontre Hurst, Al Louis-Jean, C.J. Wilson, M.D. Jennings and Marcus Trice 

    Final Roster: Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings, Kyle Fuller, Sherrick McManis, Kelvin Hayden, Ryan Mundy, Chris Conte, Danny McCray and Brock Vereen.

    While some positions on Chicago's roster seem to have a lot of clarity, the secondary has some question marks.

    At cornerback, only Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings and rookie Kyle Fuller are guarantees to make the roster. Veterans Sherrick McManis and Kelvin Hayden will likely claim the final two cornerback spots because of their ability on special teams and experience.

    McManis will likely be one of the team's best special teams contributors this season, while Hayden will give the team a suitable backup at both cornerback spots and at nickelback.

    Demontre Hurst, C.J. Wilson and rookie Al Louis-Jean saw all of the reps at cornerback against the Cleveland Browns Thursday night. All three showed flashes of their potential, but each had their share of mistakes.

    All three are possible candidates for the practice squad, and it seems unlikely any will make the 53-man roster.

    After signing a contract on the first day of free agency, Ryan Mundy is expected to be the team's starter at strong safety come Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills.

    The team released veterans Craig Steltz and Adrian Wilson earlier in the week, leaving Chris Conte, Danny McCray, Brock Vereen and M.D. Jennings to compete for the final few spots.

    Conte returned last week against the Seattle Seahawks for his first preseason game following offseason shoulder surgery but suffered a concussion. Head coach Marc Trestman said after the Browns game Conte still has not been cleared to play, via Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times:

    #Bears safety Chris Conte still hasn't been cleared to return from concussion, Trestman said

    — Patrick Finley (@patrickfinley) August 29, 2014

    Even though he has not been cleared, it seems unlikely Conte would start the season on injured reserve. If healthy, he could end up starting alongside Mundy in Week 1.

    With Mundy and Conte likely penciled in as the starters, it appears Vereen and McCray will be the final two safeties on the roster.

    Vereen spent part of the offseason running with the first-team defense but dropped to the second team for much of the preseason. He should provide the team with solid depth and will be expected to compete on special teams.

    The final spot will likely go to McCray, who has spent much of training camp and the preseason as the team's first-team free safety. While it is possible he could start Week 1 next to Mundy, he will likely be utilized on special teams.

    With McCray grabbing the final spot, former Green Bay Packer M.D. Jennings and rookie Marcus Trice will likely be the final two safeties cut.

     

    Record/statistical information provided via email from the Chicago Bears or NFL.com.

    Matt Eurich is an NFL/Chicago Bears Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.

    Follow @MattEurich