Change is coming to the Bears after the bye week
Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports the Bears had a wave of players in for tryouts at Halas Hall. Among the players in for a look were four defensive linemen (Daryle Banfield, Fadol Brown, P.J. Johnson, and Jay-Tee Tiuli) and three offensive linemen (Anthony Fabiano, Keegan Render, Kyle Murphy). Considering the injuries the Bears are battling on both sides of the line, the ineffectiveness of the team’s defensive front in Week 5 against the Raiders, and the overall struggles in pass protection and run blocking, this all makes sense.
Heck, one of the players the Bears tried out could land on the practice squad:
— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) October 14, 2019
Biggs tacks on a report that Chicago is expected to sign Brown to its practice squad. The Bears just promoted defensive lineman Abdullah Anderson to the active roster, so sliding Brown into that spot makes sense. Brown has the most NFL experience of the defensive linemen who was in for a tryout, playing 16 games over the last two seasons with the Packers and Raiders. The Ole Miss product played 17 snaps of defense and chipped in with 21 special teams snaps in Green Bay’s first four games before being cut on October 7.
As for the others who were invited to try out …
Banfield, an undrafted rookie who played his college ball at Brown, spent time with the Bears during training camp and preseason and has experience as a nose tackle. So the Bears should know what they’re getting into when he comes in for a visit.
Johnson was a seventh-round pick by the Lions in the 2019 NFL Draft and has a draft profile that is worth an extended look. NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein notes Johnson’s strengths include versatility along the line, an ability to “rag doll and remove zone blockers from their track,” showed he “plays with a disregard for the block,” and owns “quick-twitch upper body to get early wins over blockers.” That is certainly intriguing, even if his weaknesses (playing tall, weight concerns, short-area quickness) are glaring.
Tiuli spent the summer with the Seattle Seahawks and was a local guy (who played at Eastern Washington) who tried to play his way onto his home-town team as an interior defensive lineman. This profile at Draft Diamonds by Damond Talbot is worth checking out for background purposes.
As for the tryouts on the other side of the line, Fabiano has nine games of NFL experience as a center with the Browns (four games in 2016) and Colts (five games in 2017). He also made a push to get on the Eagles in 2019 before not making it past cutdown day. Keegan Render also has experience with the Eagles (which makes me wonder if Matt Nagy’s good friend Doug Peterson is lending his former co-worker a helping hand during a tough time). Render, who played center and guard during his college days at Iowa, earned All-Big Ten third-team honors (as voted by league media) and honorable mention (voted by coaches) as a senior. The Hawkeyes have a reputation for generating solid offensive line prospects, so I suppose Render is worth a look.
Murphy was a sixth-round pick by the Packers in 2016, but played just six games (three starts at tackle in 2017) during his three years with the team. There was a time when Murphy was deemed to be a top-tier prospect. Rivals.com listed Murphy as a five-star prospect, while ESPN ranked him 27th overall in the country as a four-star recruit coming out of high school before committing to Stanford.
Again, when you weigh the injuries and concerns that are active for the Bears on both sides of the line of scrimmage, bringing in a swarm of players for tryouts is a smart idea.