It could be argued that corner was the Chicago Bears strongest defensive position group last season. The d-line was in shambles all season long, the linebacking unit really struggled with D.J. Williams and Lance Briggs missing a lot of time, and safety was a hot mess. Charles Tillman was dinged up all year, then finally ended up on injured reserve, but the corner group as a whole was OK.
Pro Bowler Tim Jennings -- one of the top 100 players of 2014 -- and Charles Tillman will hope to be a Pro Bowl tandem like in 2012. The two combined for 12 interceptions (9 from Jennings), three of which were returned for touchdowns, and Peanut punched out 10 balls and recovered two fumbles that year. If Tillman can return to form it'll give the D a huge boost.
Rookie Kyle Fuller will come in at corner in their nickel package with Jennings kicking into the slot, although I wouldn't be surprised to see the Bears eventually mirror Fuller onto the bigger receiver if he lines up in the slot.
Kelvin Hayden, who was the starting nickel last off season before he was injured, is back 100% and will provide valuable experience wherever he's needed.
A good bet to make it
After the four mentioned above, I think there will be a bubble battle for the 5th and possibly 6th spot. Two years ago the Bears opened the season with five each at safety and corner, but last year they began with six corners and four safeties.
On the Bubble
While Isaiah Frey didn't produce any eye-popping plays last year at nickel, I think his experience might give him the edge over the other bubble guys. At 6' tall, he has the size to play outside as well. He may have to shine on special teams to solidify his place on the roster.
Sherrick McManis rarely saw the field on D last year, but he was a solid special teamer.
This year's undrafted free agents, Derricus Purdy and Al Louis-Jean, will fight it out with last year's undrafted free agents, C.J. Wilson and Demontre Hurst. A practice squad job or two might be their only hope.
Marcus Trice, whom we discussed yesterday with the safeties, could also be in the mix at nickel. He's the only player listed at DB for the Bears.
Whom do you think the Bears will keep around on the final 53 man roster?
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