The final cuts are done and unless some waiver wire moves get made it looks like the Bears have the 53 guys that they are going into battle with every Sunday. So how does it break down.
Before we get down to the active roster we must point out the most important spot on the team. The constant of the Lovie Smith & Jerry Angelo era has been there red shirt year for a rookie. It has happened several times over the years where a rookie will have a minor injury during the preseason which ends up with him on IR or just being inactive the whol season. This year's lucky winner is Harvey Unga, running back out of BYU which was selected in the supplemental draft.
Now to the active players.
Bears decided to keep three quarterbacks: Jay Cutler, Todd Collins and Caleb Hanie. Collins came in late during the preseason due to Hanie being injuried which ended up costing rookie Dan LeFevour a chance to play for his hometown team. LeFevour was picked up off waiver's by the Bengals.
In some what of a surprise the folks at Halas Hall decided to keep four running backs and 4 tightends and no fullbacks. At running back they have starter Matt Forte, free agent pickup Chester Taylor, special teams ace Garrett Wolfe and surprise from last season Kahill Bell. Now to the tightends, which is an interesting position in Mike Martz's offense because they are used more to block then catch but they decided to keep four of them with only one being an above average blocker. They kept former first round pick Greg Olson, who has yet to live up to expections, Dallas Clark, who might be the best free agent pickup Jerry Angelo has ever made, free agent pickup Brandon Manumaleuna, the best blocker out of the group, and third year man Kellen Davis.
Some people may view the recievers as the biggest question mark on the offense coming into the preseason but after watching those four preseason games the offensive line became the biggest worry. Sadly it looks a lot like last year's squad. Chris Williams will start the season at left tackle with Roberto Garza lining up next to him at left guard with veteran Olin Kreutz at center. On the right side with be second year man Lance Louis will be at right guard with last season's free agent bust Frank Omiyale at left tackle. They decided to keep three backups who are veteran Kevin Schaffer, rookie J'Marcus Webb and second year guard John Asiata. The surprise move was saying goodbye to Josh Beekman who started a few games last season and started at center in place of Kruetz this preseason. Hopefully coach Mike Tice can work some magic with this group.
At the last skill position on the offense and possibly the most important the Bears decided to keep five wide recievers. The starters at least on the depth chart are Devin Hester and Johnny Knox with Earl Bennett, Devin Armashodu and Rashied Davis who beat out former third round pick Juaquin Iglesias, who ended up on the practice squad.
Since we are on the matter of practic squad let me give you the rest of the members. By NFL rule you can have only eight players on the practice squad, currently the Bears have seven including Iglesias. The other members are: three offensive linemen, Levi Horn, James Marten and Edwin Williams, fullback Eddie Williams, defensive end Barry Turner and reciever Greg Matthews.
On special teams the Bears kept the "holy trinity" of kicker Robbie Gould, punter Brad Maynard and long snapper Patrick Mannelly. I think everyone saw how important having a good long snapper is after watching Dallas Clark give it a go during the preseason so thank God he has returned. It is also expected that Danieal Manning, Devin Hester and Jonnie Knox will split up the return duties in some way.
Now onto the defensive side of the ball.
The most stable and probably deepest spot of the defensive would have to be the linebackers. When you have Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs you know you are going to have a good group and when you put former starters Nick Roach, Hunter Hillenmeyer and Pisa Tinoisamoa, you are going to have depth. Sadly special teams ace Tim Shaw was cut and will be replaced by Brian Iwuh. If this group can stay healthy, which is asking a lot based on what has happened the past few seasons, it could be one of the best in the NFL.
If linebacker is the deepest and strongest then safety could be the weakest. Sadly the Bears have yet to fill the void left by Mike Brown but they brought back Chris Harris and drafted Major Wright to help and go along with Craig Steltz, Danieal Manning and Josh Bullocks. The surprise cut out of thise group was Al Afalava who started 13 games last season as a rookie but wasn't given much of a choice this preseason. During the preseason they had Chris Harris lining up at free safety and Manning at strong due to Major Wright hurting his finger. That lineup didn't work so well so let's hope Major Wright get's healthy and lines up at free safety while allowing Chris Harris to play strong and be that extra man in the box to stuff the run.
At cornerback there are many familiar faces with the return of starters Charles Tillman and Zack Bowman while rookie Joshua Moore is competing with DJ Moore, Corey Graham and Tim Jennings for playing time at nickel back. The biggest concern here is the health of Charles "Peanut" Tillman but if healthy it should be a very stable group.
Now to my favorite part of the team, those guys down in the trenches, the defensive line. The coaching staff decided to go with four defensive ends: the big free agent prize Julius Peppers, former rookie stud Mark Anderson, rookie Corey Wootten and Henry Melton who beat out Jarron Gilbert for the final spot. You will see the video for the only thing Gilbert will ever be remembered for at the bottom. They decided to keep five defensive tackles: starters Tommie Harris and Anthony Adams along with backups Marcus Harrison, Matt Toeaina and Israel Idonije who may also see some time at end. One quick sidenote about Tommie Harris. If you have Madden 2011 and has played as the Bears or against them I am sure you have seen how good they have made Tommie Harris. I personally think it is a little nuts and it reminds me how Warren Sapp was when he was in Tampa Bay.
I personally don't have real high expections for the season but their is potential if people stay healthy and the offense starts clicking under Mike Martz but predictions for the season are coming later in the week. Season kicks off Sunday September 12 at noon on the lakefront against the Lions.