On paper at least, the defensive line should be a strength of the team. Perennial Pro Bowler (note my sarcasm font) Tommie Harris has looked better so far this preseason, and their new Rush Man Julius Peppers looks good. They have some other versatile pieces on the line that may allow them to go with only eight linemen as opposed to the nine they've carried the last couple years.
I think if everyone is healthy before cut down day, they'll roll the dice and only bring eight to the final 53. Leaving them some wiggle room at another position.
After the jump I'll look at all 13 current Bears defensive linemen, and guess as to which lucky 8 will still be employed come week 1.
I'll get right down to the nitty gritty, here's the ocho keepo:
Julius Peppers - Duh!
Israel Idonije - Anyone else find it odd that Izzy is still listed as a DT on chicagobears.com?
Mark Anderson - His play towards the end of last year was a pleasant surprise. He's starting to get it.
Corey Wootton - I think there is too much upside with this kid to cut.
Tommie Harris - He's drawn a few double teams so far this preseason, that's a good sign.
Anthony Adams - This guy just produces when he's on the field.
Marcus Harrison - His ability to play both DT spots will keep him around, but he has to keep stepping up his play.
Matt Toeaina - I've been surprised at his game so far. He's gotten some reps with the #1s in the 1st two games.
These guys will be candidates for the practice squad; DEs Maurice Evans and Barry Turner, and DT Mick Williams. Leaving Henry Melton and pool jumper extraordinaire Jarron Gilbert fighting it out for a job. My biggest reasoning in only keeping eight on the D-Line is that of the guys fighting it out for a spot, none has stood out.
Gilbert was kept out of the Raider game because of a stinger. But if I'm fighting for my NFL life, I'm getting on that field, somehow, someway. Maybe he was told his job is safe?
I think Wootton is a prime candidate for a, cough... "injury", thus ending up on IR, because he still needs some polish. And I suppose the Bears could take another chance on both '09 draft picks, Melton and Gilbert, I just haven't seen either one do anything worthy of a spot.
These lest two preseason games will be huge for some of these bubble guys. Maybe one of the unheralded D-Linemen will step up and make the decision tougher for the Bears.