Trading for Khalil Mack sent us into a tizzy, but it also had the Bears doing a bit of a late-game roster shuffle. But now that the dust has settled and Mack is officially on the 53-man roster, and we can move on and fully digest everything else that’s happening.
That includes checking out the 10 players who will start the year on the Bears’ practice squad:
- OL Dejon Allen
- DL Abdullah Anderson
- QB Tyler Bray
- WR Tanner Gentry
- DB Michael Joseph
- DB Jonathon Mincy
- RB Taquan Mizzell
- RB Ryan Nall
- OL James Stone
- LB Josh Woods
Of the 10 players the Bears placed on the practice squad, nine spent the entire offseason and training camp with the team. The lone exception is James Stone, a 26-year-old center who has 21 games (including 10 starts) of NFL experience.
Stone was a first-team All-State lineman for Maplewood High School in Nashville, Tenn. and participant in the 2010 Under Armour All-America Game, so there is some intriguing prospect pedigree here. Bringing Stone aboard reunites him with some familiar faces. Offensive Line Coach Harry Hiestand was Stone’s position coach at the University of Tennessee in 2010 and 2011. And after spending the last two seasons with the Oakland Raiders, I imagine he is familiar with Khalil Mack.
The rest of the group features players with which you’re probably already familiar.
The training camp stars of the last two summers (Tanner Gentry, Ryan Nall) cleared waivers and made the unit. Nall was the team’s leading rusher in the preseason, while Gentry led the team in receptions. Bray, who threw for the most yards among Bears quarterbacks this summer, gets a chance to hang around and help Chase Daniel teach the finer points of the offense to Mitch Trubisky. Talented and versatile defensive backs Michael Joseph and Jonathon Mincy are sticking around, too, and are available in a pinch to help a deep secondary.
Center Hroniss Grasu didn’t land on the Bears’ practice squad, much to the surprise of some. Grasu was released on Sunday to clear a roster spot for Mack. Cornerback Cre’von LeBlanc also didn’t return to Chicago via the practice squad, instead choosing to go to the Detroit Lions. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports six teams offered LeBlanc a practice squad position. Joining the Lions allows LeBlanc to get back under former Patriots Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia, who is in his first year as Detroit’s head coach.
Overall, it’s a quality group of players who performed admirably throughout training camp and the preseason en route to earning a spot on the practice squad. Let’s not overlook this collection of talent, as eight of the nine players who started the 2017 season on the team’s practice squad appeared in a game. The ninth, offensive lineman Dieugot Joseph, was poached by the Ravens.