Bears’ young blood survives cuts
BY ADAM L. JAHNS Staff Reporter August 31, 2013 11:46PM
Chicago Bears running back Michael Ford (32) runs during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Updated: October 2, 2013 6:46AM
The Bears’ 53-man roster features an overhauled offensive line, nine rookies, four full-time returning starters on offense, nine returners on defense and 27 players with expiring contracts. And it’s on new coach Marc Trestman to put it all together.
“We have an idea of what we can be,” Trestman said.
Why did the Bears keep only two quarterbacks?
Trestman made it clear that he preferred keeping three quarterbacks, but he also acknowledged that the Bears had other areas of need that could outweigh his predilection. Having three quarterbacks is a luxury, and it’s a spot meant for a young developmental player, which Jordan Palmer is not. Injuries also made depth at other positions more important. Palmer looked good against the Cleveland Browns and probably earned himself a phone call if Jay Cutler or Josh McCown gets hurt. But if a team has to turn to a No. 3 quarterback, the season probably is a lost cause. The Bears likely will add a quarterback to their practice squad, too.
What’s left of the ’12 draft class?
Don’t call general manager Phil Emery’s first draft class a bust just yet. Safety Brandon Hardin and fullback/tight end Evan Rodriguez didn’t work out, but defensive end Shea McClellin, receiver Alshon Jeffery and even cornerback Isaiah Frey all have prominent roles. A lot of eyes will be on McClellin, but Jeffery could be on the verge of a breakout season. There are only two players left on the roster from the Bears’ 2011 draft class — the last by ex-GM Jerry Angelo — in defensive tackle Stephen Paea and safety Chris Conte.
How did three undrafted rookies make the roster?
Injuries helped the causes of running back Michael Ford (Armando Allen’s hamstring), defensive tackle Zach Minter (Henry Melton’s concussion, Corvey Irvin’s ankle, Jamaal Anderson’s knee) and cornerback C.J. Wilson (Kelvin Hayden’s hamstring, Zack Bowman’s hamstring). But all three made plays at rookie camp, and that continued in camp and the preseason. When given more opportunities, they flashed potential against quality opponents. Bears scouts deserve credit here.
Where are the most questions?
There are concerns with starting two rookies on the offensive line, regardless of how well right guard Kyle Long and right tackle Jordan Mills have played. Depth also is an issue in the secondary. But tight end is a position in which health is vital. If Martellus Bennett gets hurt, there isn’t a real receiving threat behind him. That’s not a knock on Kyle Adams and Steve Maneri — they have value in different ways — but it’s why the Bears had hoped Fendi Onobun would pan out. The Bears will see which tight ends are available in the aftermath of the NFL roster cuts.
Who was a surprise cut?
No one, really. But there are nine rookies (six draft picks and three undrafted players) on the 53-man roster, which definitely stands out. Add in center Taylor Boggs and Frey, and that’s 11 players who haven’t played in an NFL regular-season game. A lot of the Bears’ success will depend on these young players, especially Long, Mills and linebacker Jon Bostic. Add second-year players McClellin, Jeffery and receiver Joe Anderson to that mix, too.