The bubble has burst for one of the Chicago Bears’ best (and most popular) preseason performers, as Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports the Bears will place running back Ryan Nall on waivers.
Nall was a training camp and preseason standout, leading the team with 223 rushing yards on 32 attempts. In addition to his contributions as a rusher, Nall made his case for inclusion on the season-opening 53-man roster by dabbling in some special teams work and seeing some snaps as a fullback. Nall averaged 6.97 yards per carry and even had a splash play with a 69-yard run against the Cincinnati Bengals early in the preseason. But because of his limited experience and skill set, it’s not difficult to envision Nall sneaking through the waiver wire and ultimately returning to the Bears’ practice squad.
The Bears also parted ways with running back Knile Davis, who signed with the team after its final open training camp practice in Bourbonnais. Between this decision and waiving Nall, there appears to be some newfound clarity in a crowded Bears backfield.
For starters, it likely means that Taquan Mizzell will make the season-opening 53-man roster as the team’s fourth running back. With Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, and Benny Cunningham being virtual locks, Mizzell makes sense as a player who rounds out the group because of his special teams experience and ability to make plays in a pinch as a receiver out of the backfield. However, Mizzell struggled as a rusher (34 carries, 81 yards, 2.38 yards per carry average) and averaged just 6.08 yards per catch (even though his 13 receptions were the third most on the team). But because of the players ahead of him on the depth chart, he won’t be asked to carry the pigskin often.
Cutting ties with Nall and Davis also suggests that Michael Burton is sticking around. Burton was the Bears’ lone true fullback on the roster, but his roster spot was in jeopardy as Nall excelled as a rusher and tried his hand on special teams and as a lead blocker. The fullback position isn’t one that modern offenses use often, but the team has worked on diversifying Burton’s role by lining him up outside and running routes. Remember when he caught the Bears’ first offensive touchdown of the preseason? Fun times.
For more on the Bears’ other roster moves, you can follow along here.