In the midst of what feels like the longest preseason in recent memory, there’s light at the end of the tunnel for the Chicago Bears. They’ll play two games over the next 11 days, including Saturday’s dress rehearsal at home against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Starters are expected to play into the third quarter, which leaves less time than usual for depth players to fight for roster spots.
Even so, this will be a big game for settling the team’s starting 22 and more importantly, should give fans the best look at what to expect week one.
Heading into the final stretch roster projections are starting to become clearer. Here my take heading into game four.
Quarterback (2): Mitchell Trubisky and Chase Daniel
You’ll see there’s no change in this projection and for good reason. Tyler Bray didn’t play a snap in a game where Chase Daniel played more than a half of football.
Realistically, roster spots are just too important on this team for them to tie one up in a third quarterback that would be inactive each week on game day.
Running Back (4): Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, Benny Cunningham and Michael Burton
This group also stays the same but I can’t help but feel like the offensive coaching staff is giving Taquan Mizzell every chance in the world to win a roster spot.
The Bears did give Ryan Nall $45,000 guaranteed but he’s been the last option off the bench, including last week’s game in which he saw no favorable situations.
Wide Receiver (6): Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, Kevin White, Josh Bellamy and Javon Wims
Speaking of players receiving every chance to make the roster, Bennie Fowler has and for the first time in three games he showed up. He led the team in receiving yards with 46 on a pair of catches. He also saw plenty of time with the first team.
Marlon Brown has also started to show up. He had an impressive 30-yard catch and saw plenty of snaps.
This is a race that is getting closer and both White and Wims still aren’t safe.
Tight End (4): Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen, Dion Sims and Ben Braunecker
It appears that Shaheen avoided serious injury after leaving game three when he hurt his ankle. According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the former second round pick suffered a low ankle sprain but could be ready for week one, which is just under three weeks away.
Enter Braunecker. Exit Daniel Brown.
The battle between Brown and Braunecker remains a close one but I personally prefer Brown’s athleticism and overall fit a little more right now. With that being said, Braunecker’s special teams value could play a role and he did see more snaps with the first team once Shaheen went out.
Offensive Line (9): Charles Leno, James Daniels, Cody Whitehair, Kyle Long, Bobby Massie, Eric Kush, Bradley Sowell, Earl Watford, Rashaad Coward
This projection stays the same with one prediction. Daniels will get his chance with the ones this week. Kush was taken out for a series in favor of Watford at left guard but the rookie has been nails the past two games.
Also starting to wonder if Coward is the team’s best option at swing tackle, even with Sowell’s new contract.
Defensive Line (6): Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Roy Robertson-Harris, Jonathan Bullard, Bilal Nichols and John Jenkins
No new changes here, but I think it bears repeating — This may be the deepest positional group on the roster. Each player in this group has flashed, but none more than Robertson-Harris, who appears to be running away with the starting job opposite of Hicks.
Jenkins has also been pretty impressive as the team’s backup nose tackle.
Inside Linebacker (4): Danny Trevathan, Nick Kwiatkoski, Roquan Smith, Joel Iyiegbuniwe
Another position and no change. Main reason for this? All four of these players are locked in barring injury.
Smith didn’t play but fellow rookie, “Iggy,” had a nice preseason debut that included a pass breakup and a handful of tackles.
It appears that this is another position in which the team has great depth.
Outside Linebacker (5): Leonard Floyd, Sam Acho, Isaiah Irving, Aaron Lynch, Kasim Edebali
The disaster potential continues to grow with this unit. It all came to a head once Floyd left the game with a reported hand injury. Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun Times reported that Floyd left the game in a hard cast. While it’s not likely he’ll miss any regular season time, it’s a staunch reminder how weak this group is.
Rookie Kylie Fitts has now gone two weeks without so much as a quarterback pressure, which is why Edebali makes the cut.
It’s almost a guarantee, that Pace will add someone from the outside before week one but until then, here we are.
Cornerback (6): Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara, Bryce Callahan, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Marcus Cooper, Sherrick McManis
The single change here is Cooper over Kevin Toliver II. Cooper didn’t even have to play to make it back on this list, but Toliver’s play against the Broncos was not good. He gave up three catches, a touchdown and had a pass interference call near the goal line.
Needless to say, the depth here is slightly concerning. It appears the Bears feel the same when they slid Callahan outside in Amukamara’s absence. This may be another position where the waiver wire could come into handy.
Safety (4): Eddie Jackson, Adrian Amos, Deon Bush and DeAndre Houston-Carson
There’s no change here. It wasn’t a great night for this unit, but until Deiondre Hall can stop making stupid mistakes, it’s going to be Houston-Carson’s job to lose.
Those stupid mistakes continued Saturday night on the field and Monday with a one game suspension due to his violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Barring injury, this is a position group that appears close to being set in stone.
Special Teams (3): Cody Parkey, Patrick O’Donnell and Patrick Scales
As much as I want to project newly signed long snapper Tanner Carew as the team’s long snapper, he had just one play on a punt. Coming late into the game, the only change that is possible with these three would be undrafted free agent Ryan Winslow making the team over O’Donnell.
Practice Squad (10): OL Jordan Morgan, CB Michael Joseph, CB Kevin Toliver II, RB Ryan Nall, WR Demarcus Ayers, OT Brandon Greene , DL Cavon Walker, OLB Kylie Fitts, WR Tanner Gentry, LB Josh Woods.
There’s a few changes within this group. That includes adding Toliver and Fitts, who were projected on the final roster last week. This is a group that could be poached from other teams before it’s formed, but without knowing how those teams feel, I’m projecting what I would do.