The Chicago Bears have had a lengthy list of players nursing various injuries during the offseason, which has given different players extra reps both in practice and the preseason games. With cutdown day fast approaching, we wanted to take a look at the roster battles that have caught our eye.
The Bears haven’t announced a full list of players who will be sitting out the final preseason game, but there are a few players expected to play that could be fighting for their roster spots.
Here’s the question posed to our team as Chicago hosts the Buffalo Bills in just two days.
What is the one position battle you’re keeping an eye on as the Bears close out preseason?
Erik Duerrwaechter: It’s still the battle at DT. The level of competition has increased significantly after strong performances by Zacch Pickens in consecutive weeks, along with Gervon Dexter Sr. showing real improvement between games as well. At this point, I believe Zacch has a strong chance of winning himself a starting job at DT for week one.
Sam Householder: I’m interested in the offensive linemen. Now that injuries have caused shuffling, I want to watch Doug Kramer and Ja’Tyre Carter closely and see if they can push Lucas Patrick and/or Cody Whitehair. I don’t expect them to unseat the guys in front of them, but we also know that Whitehair and Patrick haven’t been the most durable at times, and these young guys could end up in the lineup. I want to see if they can hold it down if need be.
Josh Sunderbruch: Wide receiver. While I feel like the top three are set, it’s really hard to figure out what the Bears are going to do with the rest of the grouping. There are serious concerns with all of the potentials, and there are even arguments to be made on how many receivers should be kept. It’s also nice to be worried about the fifth wide receiver and not the first.
Ken Mitchell: Backup quarterback. I know, I’m as hooked on a Cinderella story as anybody, and Tyson Bagent fits the bill of a true “camp darling.” Having said that, I remember watching Nathan Peterman’s deer-in-the-headlights stare for as long as I need to while he’s wearing a Bears uniform. Will Chicago carry three quarterbacks? Two? I don’t expect Bagent to beat out PJ Walker, but if Coach Eberflus is to be believed, it’s an open battle between the two for the second slot.
Lester Wiltfong: I’m intrigued by the Noah Sewell vs. Jack Sanborn battle for the starting strongside linebacker, but the bottom of the receiver depth chart is also interesting. Nsimba Webster, Joe Reed, Daurice Fountain, and Isaiah Ford have all had good camps, but have any of them shown enough to win a spot over Velus Jones Jr., Equanimeous St. Brown, or Dante Pettis? The punt returner question will factor into the wideouts too. I have Jones and ESB making the team in my 53-man roster projection, but it wouldn’t shock me if either is cut.
A few of our podcast teammates wanted in on this one too.
Mason West: I am a sucker for Running Back, and my fantasy teams can corroborate that. It isn’t even a true battle per se, as the whole year will be a Running Back By Committee (RBBC). Week to week, RBa will get 60% of the carries, and the next week, it could be 40%. That said, I still feel like the percentages could shift to Roschon Johnson if he has a good game and can stack a few good weeks early in the season. I don’t love what I saw from Herbert in terms of pass protection in camp, yet he has the explosion to take a screen to the house, as we saw in the first preseason game. Go down the depth chart, and the Homer/Ebner conversation is interesting as well. I give the edge to Homer and doubt the Bears carry 6 RBs (Blasingame is accounted for here), so someone is likely to get cut.
Danny Meehan: For me? I think there are a few genuinely worth paying attention to and monitoring. The CB2 competition seemed much more heated early in camp between Tyrique Stevenson and Terell Smith, and I think there still may be some heat in that battle.
Then there’s the WR2 position. I personally think Mooney v. Claypool will be ongoing all year long. And it’s likely only one of them will get extended.
Also worth monitoring is the EDGE rushers and seeing who will be sticking on the team. I really like what we’ve seen so far from Terrell Lewis.
Taylor Doll: I am super excited to see how the running back room looks going into week one. Roschon Johnson has impressed recently, and although it seems like the clear RB1 will be Khalil Herbert to start, what will it look like behind him for week one against Green Bay? And how much will they rotate these guys when all starters are playing a decent amount? In addition, the defensive line is so intriguing to me! Trevis Gipson, who was so far down the depth chart a couple of weeks ago that we could barely see him, has stood out and seemed to solidify a spot on the roster. Gervon Dexter has made some plays, also. So, both the defensive ends and interior guys will be a lot of fun to watch this weekend!
Which roster battles will you be focused on during Saturday’s game?