All 6 draft picks, 9 rookies in all make Bears’ roster
BY MARK POTASH email@example.com | @MarkPotash August 31, 2013 6:45PM
Running back Michael Ford is one of three undrafted rookies to make the Bears' 53-man roster. | Ben Margot~AP
Updated: September 1, 2013 4:40PM
The Bears’ 53-man roster includes all six draft picks, nine rookies and 11 players who have yet to play in a regular-season NFL game.
By cutting linebacker J.T. Thomas, wide receiver Terrence Toliver, defensive tackle Corvey Irvin, offensive tackle Cory Brandon and safety Brandon Hardin, the Bears pared their roster to the 53-man limit Saturday.
Irvin and Brandon were waived with injury settlements. Hardin was waived as an injured player and could be put on injured reserve after clearing waivers — which would allow him to rehabilitate at the Bears’ facility.
The roster is unlikely to finalized, though, until after the Bears consider free agents who have been cut by other NFL teams. Last year two players who originally made the roster were cut before the first game — linebacker Patrick Trahan and running back Lorenzo Booker (who had suffered a concussion in the final preseason game). Two more were cut before the third regular-season game.
But for now, the Bears’ cutdown to 53 emphasized the transition of the roster under second-year general manager Phil Emery and first-year head coach Marc Trestman. With the retirement of Brian Urlacher and the trade of Gabe Carimi to Tampa Bay in the offseason, the Bears do not have any of former general manager Jerry Angelo’s first-round draft picks on their roster for the first time since Angelo became general manager in 2001.
Instead, the roster is laden with players acquired by Emery — including 19 of the 24 players on offense. Only quarterback Jay Cutler, running back Matt Forte, center Roberto Garza, wide receiver Earl Bennett and tight end Kyle Adams remain from the Angelo era on offense.
With offensive tackle J’Marcus Webb and Thomas being cut, the Bears have 10 players on their roster who were drafted by Angelo.
But the influx of rookies is on paper a notable upgrade even over Emery’s first draft class. With 2012 third-round draft pick Hardin being waived with an injury on Saturday, only three players from Emery’s 2012 draft class remain: first-round pick Shea McClellin, second-round pick Alshon Jeffery and sixth-round pick Isaiah Frey.
Not only have all six players from this year’s draft class made the roster, but three of them are expected to start in next Sunday’s season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals — first-round pick Kyle Long at right guard; second-round pick Jon Bostic at middle linebacker; and fifth-round pick Jordan Mills at right tackle. And coach Marc Trestman indicated after Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Browns that seventh-round pick Marquess Wilson could fill in at the No. 3 receiver spot if Earl Bennett is not fully recovered from a concussion.
The other rookies to make the team are linebacker Khaseem Greene (fourth round) and defensive end Cornelius Washington (sixth round).
Three undrafted rookies also made the 53-man roster: defensive tackle Zach Minter; cornerback C.J. Wilson and running back Michael Ford.
The impact of all the rookies remains to be seen — sometimes the influx of rookies is more a reflection of a weak roster than great scouting or coaching. But we’ll know soon enough, with many of the first-year players expected to see playing time from the start.
The Bears also kept two players who have yet to play in an NFL game — center Taylor Boggs at least so far is a long shot who came in; Frey was on the Bears’ practice squad last season. Wide receiver Joe Anderson, who played the final three games on special teams at the end of last season, will be getting his first true shot on offense.
The Bears can sign eight players to their practice squad Sunday. Many of those who were cut previously are candidates. Thomas, who played 16 games, mostly on special teams last season and made some big plays in the preseason, heads that list. Others top practice squad candidates are tight end Fendi Onobun, cornerback Demontre Hurst, defensive end Aston Whiteside, guard Derek Dennis, defensive end Josh Williams and wide receivers Toliver and Brittan Golden.