Chicago Bears football is on the horizon!
The team reports to training camp in Bourbonnais on July 19 and is scheduled to have its first open practice on July 21. From there, 90 players will begin putting forth their best effort in order to make the season-opening 53-man roster. So let’s take some time and dive into who is where on the Bears’ current roster.
Quarterback: Mitch Trubisky, Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray
What a difference a year makes! The only drama here is whether Chase Daniel or Tyler Bray gets more time teaching Mitch Trubisky the ins and outs of Matt Nagy’s offense.
Running back: Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, Benny Cunningham, Taquan Mizzell, Ryan Nall
Fullback: Michael Burton
Jordan Howard is the load-carrying back, while Tarik Cohen has practiced literally everywhere throughout the offense. The other backs on the roster are fighting for niche roles. Benny Cunningham and Taquan Mizzell have special teams experience. Burton was on the team last season and is one of the rare pure fullbacks in the game. Nall appears to be a hybrid type. He will likely get every opportunity to make the roster and could be a sleeper in this rotation.
Wide receiver: Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Kevin White, Anthony Miller, Javon Wims, Garrett Johnson, Bennie Fowler, Matt Fleming, Marlon Brown, Tanner Gentry, Joshua Bellamy, DeMarcus Ayers
The Bears have 12 receivers in camp, just four of which were in the organization last season. This group figures to produce the best training camp competition, as players search for Trubisky’s attention and jockey for position to make the 53-man roster.
Tight end: Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen, Dion Sims, Daniel Brown, Colin Thompson, Ben Braunecker
This group is pretty settled at the top with Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen, and Dion Sims. Daniel Brown is an X-factor here as someone who could conceivably slide into a reserve role as a “U” tight end.
Offensive tackle: Charles Leno Jr., Bobby Massie, Matt McCants, Dejon Allen, Bradley Sowell
There isn’t much of a battle to be had here unless Bobby Massie completely unravels this summer. Keeping Bradley Sowell as the team’s swing tackle was a solid under-the-radar move.
Offensive guard: Kyle Long, Earl Watford, Jeremi Hall, Will Pericak, Jordan Morgan, Eric Kush, Brandon Greene
Offensive line: Rashaad Coward
The biggest offensive line competition will come here, especially with Rashaad Coward making the switch from nose tackle to interior lineman. Earl Watford was taking snaps in place of Kyle Long during the offseason training program, so that name is worth keeping an eye on this summer.
Center: Cody Whitehair, James Daniels, Hroniss Grasu
Surprise! James Daniels is listed as a center! Don’t be alarmed, though. Daniels is slotted into the left guard position (and seemingly has been since he was drafted) and he’ll also see some time at center, as was part of the plan. Hroniss Grasu has a big summer ahead of him as he is the only center of this group who doesn’t have significant experience playing another position.
Defensive end: Akiem Hicks, Roy Robertson-Harris, Jonathan Bullard
Defensive line: Cavon Walker, Bunmi Rotimi
Defensive tackle: John Jenkins, Bilal Nichols, Nick Williams, Abdullah Anderson
Nose tackle: Eddie Goldman
This seems as cut-and-dried as it can get. Roy Robertson-Harris and Jonathan Bullard in a rotation across from Akiem Hicks, Eddie Godlman in the middle, and a collection of others vying for playing time in the various fronts Vic Fangio will throw out there.
Inside linebacker: Danny Trevathan, Nick Kwiatkoski
Outside linebacker: Leonard Floyd, Jonathan Anderson, Sam Acho
Linebacker: Roquan Smith, Joel Iyiegbuniwe, Aaron Lynch, Kylie Fitts, Isaiah Irving, Josh Woods, Kasim Edebali, Andrew Trumbetti, John Timu, Elijah Norris
The lack of designation for certain linebackers is intriguing, to say the least. Roquan Smith, Joel Iyiegbuniwe, and John Timu seem to be set as inside linebackers. Aaron Lynch, Kylie Fitts, and Isaiah Irving figure to make sense as edge defenders. How the defensive coordinator makes the rest of the pieces of this puzzle fit into his scheme will be worth keeping tabs on as practices get going.
Cornerback: Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara, Bryce Callahan, Michael Joseph, Cre’von LeBlanc, Doran Grant, Deiondre’ Hall
Free safety: Eddie Jackson, DeAndre Houston-Carson
Strong safety: Adrian Amos, Deon Bush
For the sake of this exercise, we’re counting Bryce Callahan as a starter so we can – for all intents and purposes – say the Bears returned all five of their starters from last year’s strong secondary. Houston-Carson took a step forward in his development as a special teams player. Fellow 2016 draft picks Deiondre’ Hall and Deon Bush have their work cut out for them at their respective positions.
Defensive back: Kevin Tolliver II, Jonathon Mincy, Sherrick McManis, John Franklin III, Rashard Fant, Marcus Cooper, Nick Orr
This group of position-less defensive backs intrigues me with each time I give it a look. Set aside McManis as a special teams lock and there are some battles to be won here. The undrafted free agents (Tolliver, Franklin, Fant, Orr) could break into the 53-man roster with a strong showing. Cooper should be fighting for redemption after a disappointing 2017. And Mincy could push through after spending some time in Canada. Odds are a few of these guys will land on the practice squad and make their way onto the roster later in the season.
Special teams: Cody Parkey (PK), Pat O’Donnell (P), Ryan Winslow (P), Patrick Scales (LS)
I’m here for the Pat O’Donnell vs. Ryan Winslow punt-off. O’Donnell has made noticeable strides since his rookie season, but the Bears didn’t commit to a multi-year deal for him during the offseason. Winslow was one of college football’s better punters and could be the long-term solution if he can beat out O’Donnell in camp.