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Chicago Bears 2011 Position Battles: Linebackers

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The Bears have two of the best at their position in the NFL in their linebacking unit, but the depth is lacking.  I expect them to peruse the waiver wire in the next couple weeks.  Finding someone smart and athletic enough to fit their system, and finding someone that can be a core special teamer is a must.

After Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, I think they have two other solid NFL players in Nick Roach and Brian Iwuh.  Roach will get a shot to show he belongs as the starting strong-side OLB, and Iwuh is a special teams stalwart that can play the weak-side OLB if needed.  These two will be on the final roster, but the last couple LB spots are up in the air.

I'll assume the Bears will stick with six linebackers, and it's very possible that one if not both roster spots will be filled by someone that isn't even on the roster.  After yesterdays release of Tanner Antle, the Bears have 10 LB's remaining on the roster.  If I were a betting man, I'd bet that rookie draft choice J.T. Thomas will stick around somehow.  If he's not on the 53 man, he might be on injured reserve with a strained coccyx (wink wink).  He's a draft pick and Jerry Angelo will give his picks every chance to stick around.

Rookie back up MLB Don DeCiccio, at 6'4", has good size for a Tampa 2 MLB, but his speed isn't on Urlacher's level.  That isn't really a fair criticism of him, as few linebackers have 'Lach's speed, but DeCiccio might be a good practice squad candidate if a waiver wire LB can be found.

One likely veteran pickup could be free agent Pisa Tinoisamoa, who the Bears wanted back after being last seasons starter at strong-side OLB, but his off-season knee surgery has Chicago taking a wait and see approach.

The other LB's in camp all should be looking for work in a couple weeks.  The Bears may bring one or two back for the practice squad, but I haven't seen anything from Patrick Trahan, Deron Minor, Chris Johnson, or Tressor Baptiste that makes me think they'll be sticking around for the season opener.