Is undrafted rookie RB Michael Ford rushing his way to a final roster spot?
With preseason game #3 in the rear-view mirror our attention now turns to the bottom half of the roster. The starters are pretty well dialed in, with the exception of a few notable injuries (Earl Bennett, DJ Williams), and so the process of filling in the final roster names begins. This is the time where guys are fighting to make big plays in the final week of practice as well as in the last preseason game versus the Cleveland Browns in hopes of earning one of those elusive "golden tickets" to play for the Chicago Bears.
In all likelihood, the majority of the decisions have already been made. However, there is still time for a handful of Bears hopefuls to put enough on tape to vault them ahead of another guy and earn a seat at the table. I once heard a former NFL player state that "at this point in the process, it comes down to desire and not talent."
Over the past two games, several "bubble" guys have made impressions on me, some for the good and some for the bad. Guys like rookies Marquess Wilson and Cornelius Washington have set themselves up nicely for the 53 man roster. Guys like Michael Ford and Jordan Mills have even moved to potentially unseat veterans at their prospective positions (Armando Allen - somewhat likely and J'Marcus Webb - virtually certain). Other guys like Fendi Onobun and Devin Aromashodu either have played themselves out of a position or have not shown enough to merit a roster spot as evidenced by Aromashodu's dismissal earlier today.
This is the final week for many of these men who have fought long and hard to make their dream a reality. For the fans it is a chance to see what the months of preparation have amounted to in terms of a final team roster.
My stab at the 53: (Italics represent guys on the bubble.)
QB: Cutler, McCown
- I don't think that Palmer and Edwards are anything but camp bodies at this point.
RB: Forte, Bush, Ford, Allen
- Allen can't make the team on the bench and there is no way Ford clears waivers at this point. Another good outing should solidify Ford's spot. However, I still think the Bears like Armando Allen. My "wildcard" thought...is that they keep 4 RB's. They could also keep 3 here and add a 4th TE.
WR: Marshall, Jeffery, Bennett, Anderson, Weems, Wilson
- The WCO needs WR's. At this point the Bears need 6 considering Bennett's injury status. Wilson won't clear waivers and Weems does too much on ST to cut. DA's departure today and Wilson's time with the 1's versus the Raiders seemed to clarify things a bit.
TE: Bennett, Maneri, Adams
- The coaches want Onobun but the guy can't catch. Unless he turns things around this week his journeyman days continue. If he plays well, he may push for a 4th TE spot and reduce the RB's to 3.
OL: Bushrod, Slauson, Garza, Long, Mills, Brown, Scott, Webb
- I believe the final OL spot comes down to Webb and Britton and is decided in the final preseason game. May the best man win. At this point, I think that Webb edges Britton out.
- Harvey Unga again moves into the annals of training camp folk lore.
DE: Peppers, Wootton, McClellin, Ozogwu, Washington
- With Kyle Moore departing today, this group seems pretty set. Washington should fill the old Mark Anderson role nicely.
DT: Melton, Collins, Paea, Minter
- Tupou and Irvin have also looked good and the Bears like them both. I could see either of these guys taking Minter's place if they think Minter would clear waivers. This could come down to the final game.
LB: Briggs, Williams, Anderson, Bostic, Greene, Costanzo
- No real surprises here. Nice work by Phil Emery to address a position of concern and turn it into a strength.
CB: Tillman, Jennings, Frey, Boman, McManus, Hurst
- This is a tough one. McManus is a key ST guy and I believe that one of the rookies (Wilson or Hurst) will make the 53 with the other on the PS.
S: Wright, Conte, Steltz, Walters
- Brandon Hardin has not done much. Perhaps a PS year for him, if that.
Gould, Podlesh, Mannelly, Hester
- They create a 4th specialist slot for the ever-elusive Devin Hester.
Blanchard, Irvin, Hardin, CJ Wilson, Boggs, Tupou, Golden
With all of that said, who do you think will make the final roster?