Things got a little interesting at the bottom of the Chicago Bears wide out depth chart the last couple days. Devin Thomas abruptly retired and former Bear Rashied Davis was re-signed. Both guys were brought aboard more for their special teams ability rather than their hands, and it's the ability to play for special teams coordinator Dave Toub that will determine the 5th, and perhaps 6th wide receiver on the team.
The Bears currently have 12 receivers on the roster, and by my estimation they have four stone cold locks to make the team. Brandon Marshall, Earl Bennett, Devin Hester, and rookie Alshon Jeffery aren't going anywhere. And a 5th WR, Johnny Knox, who is currently on the PUP list will most likely spend a year on injured reserve. So that leaves seven men battling it out for 1 or 2 spots, after the jump a look at their chances.In three of the last four seasons the Bears carried six receivers, and I think it's probable they do so again this year. Eric Weems was signed to take on the Corey Graham role of gunner on the punt team, and he has Pro Bowl return ability too, so he's most likely sticking around for a 5th WR spot. Which leaves six men for one position, and if we're lucky, six potential "the next Brandon Rideau's". Needless to say, the second half of the Bears preseason games will have some competitive battles.
If one guy has a leg up, it might be Dane Sanzenbacher, who was on the team last year. He had a case of the dropsies in 2011, but that could have been attributed to rookieitis. At Ohio State he was known for having good hands, so year two as a pro might be his time to shine. However it's yet to be seen how he'll fit into the special teams, but he was fielding some punts in camp to add to his value.
And speaking of the dropsies, Rashied Davis did carve out a good niche playing special teams his first go round in Chicago. I think the dropopotamus tag was a bit harsh for Davis, because he has shown the ability to catch the ball in the past. He's a definite threat for the 6th spot.
The remaining wide outs on the roster really have to shine to make a name for themselves. Number one they have to catch the ball and pick up the offense, but they also have to show they they can tackle and cover kicks. And excelling as a returner would be a plus too. The group of undrafted free agents the Bears signed are all potential practice squad candidates, and expect at least one to stick around in that capacity. Joseph Anderson, Terriun Crump, Brittan Golden, and Chris Summers will all be trying to stand out in training camp. They'll also be showcasing their talents for the other 31 teams starting this Thursday night when the Bears take on the Denver Broncos in the preseason opener.
Crump received the Dave Gilbert Flying Under The Radar spotlight here, and he does look to have to necessary size (6'2" 223) to cover some kicks. Dave Gilbert also looked at Anderson in his fine series here.
If one of these rookies can catch the eye of Dave Toub and prompt him to get in Lovie Smith's ear we could see a surprise making the roster. My guess is the Bears carry 6 wide outs in 2012, with Sanzenbacher and Davis battling it out with the undrafted 4 for that sixth spot.
It was a busy day around WCG yesterday, so in case you missed the Position Battles: Tight End edition, you can click here for that.