Last off season the Chicago Bears went hard at upgrading their inside linebacker position. After year one in the 3-4 defense, the Bears’ coaches determined that the position group needed an overhaul. They let one starter leave as a free agent, and moved the other to outside linebacker. They signed two new starters in free agency, and drafted an ILB to bolster the position.
The makeover was complete.
Neither of the new veteran starters made it through their entire year without a little hiccup though. One was lost to injury and the other served a four game suspension. The rookie did earn some valuable experience filling in, so there’s a silver lining for the 2016 season.
Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan will again be starting inside for the Bears. Freeman led the Bears in tackles last year despite missing those four games, and Trevathan has been a camp participant after that devastating knee injury. The coaches may bring Trevathan along slowly, which opens the door again for Nick Kwiatkoski to fill in.
Kwiatkoski has shown real good athleticism and pop in his hits, but he’s still processing a wee bit too late. As he gains comfort in the defense and with his responsibilities, his play will take off.
A good bet to make it
Christian Jones is one of the few players that the coaching staff has mentioned multiple times. After being moved to OLB early last off season, he started to get practice reps back inside. His ability to play any linebacker spot makes him a valuable player. Not to mention, he’s one of their best special teamers.
On the bubble
John Timu and Jonathan Anderson joined the Bears as undrafted free agents in 2015, and both have played some in their two years in Chicago. Timu had four starts last year, with Anderson playing sparingly on D. Both played around 35% of the snaps on special teams in 2016.
Dan Skuta provides some roster flexibility, and he has a history with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
The Bears list UDFA Alex Scearce at ILB, but he played outside in college. Either way, he’s a long shot to stick on the roster.
Do you guys think either of the bubble guys makes the 53 man roster?