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Projecting the Chicago Bears' 53-man roster after Week 1 of the preseason

We’ve been covering Chicago Bears training camp for a few weeks and just had our first chance to watch this team in their first game action of the year with their victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday.

Taking everything we have learned so far, here’s how we both project the Bears’ final to look like entering Week 1.

With slightly different opinions, here are a couple of ways it can all shake out.

Quarterback

Will: (2) Justin Fields, Trevor Siemian

It doesn’t seem like a wise decision to use a roster spot for Nathan Peterman as it’s best used elsewhere.

Nick: (2) Justin Fields, Trevor Siemian

No reason to overthink this position group. Siemian helped lead the Bears to a 19-14 victory over the Chiefs and did so with two touchdown passes.

Running Back

Will: (4) David Montgomery, Khalil Herbert, Trestan Ebner, Khari Blasingame

Entering camp, there was a serious question about who would make the team between Darrynton Evans and Ebner. However, it has been evidently clear over the last few weeks that Ebner has the upper hand in this battle. Compiling 96 total yards on Saturday only solidifies his roster spot.

Nick: (4) David Montgomery, Khalil Herbert, Trestan Ebner, Khari Blasingame

Ebner really made the most of his preseason debut, finishing with 43 total yards of offense and his 12-yard touchdown reception. It will be interesting to see how the Bears handle Blasingame on a game-to-game basis. I can see him being inactive for some games depending on the matchup. 

Tight End

Will: (4) Cole Kmet, Ryan Griffin, James O’Shaughnessy, Chase Allen

There hasn’t been much doubt about who will make the team at this position. Despite the injury bug hitting the group hard, the top three guys on the depth chart remain intact. What the injuries did do, however, is give Allen a chance to showcase his talent. He’s done well enough that the Bears will want to retain him entering the season.

Nick: (4) Cole Kmet, Ryan Griffin, James O’Shaughnessy, Chase Allen

With injuries to the three veteran tight ends, Allen has made plays in practice and caught the first pass in the game against the Chiefs. For Allen to make the 53, he will have to prove he can be an efficient blocker and do so for special teams coordinator Richard Hightower. 

Wide Receiver

Will: (7) Darnell Mooney, Equanimeous St. Brown, Byron Pringle, Velus Jones Jr., Tajae Sharpe, Dante Pettis, N’Keal Harry (IR)

This is technically seven players, although Harry will be placed on IR immediately and the Bears will have someone take his place on the roster. I’ll share who I believe that is in just a bit. Pettis and Sharpe stood out on Saturday with Sharpe making the biggest impact.

Nick: (7) Darnell Mooney, Equanimeous St. Brown, Byron Pringle, Velus Jones Jr., Tajae Sharpe, Dante Pettis, N’Keal Harry (IR)

It’s tough to gauge exactly how long Harry will be sidelined with his ankle injury, but IR definitely seems like a possibility after he makes the initial 53. This would then open up a roster spot for another player. 

Offensive Line

Will: (8) Braxton Jones, Cody Whitehair, Lucas Patrick, Michael Schofield, Riley Reiff, Larry Borom, Sam Mustipher, Teven Jenkins

Even though the number says eight, this will be nine as the Bears will add another offensive lineman to the active roster once they place Harry on IR. The player that will be added to this list is Ja’Tyre Carter.

Nick: (8) Braxton Jones, Cody Whitehair, Lucas Patrick, Michael Schofield, Riley Reiff, Larry Borom, Sam Mustipher, Teven Jenkins

Although rookies Doug Kramer, Zachary Thomas and Ja’Tyre Carter all have filled in at times for the starting offensive line in training camp, the practice squad is where I believe they will end up. If one of the three were to end up making the 53, Carter would be the leading candidate. 

Defensive Line

Will: (8) Robert Quinn, Justin Jones, Trevis Gipson, Angelo Blackson, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Dominique Robinson, Mario Edwards Jr., Khyiris Tonga

Nothing too noteworthy here as this is to be expected. The Bears will carry the four defensive ends led by Quinn and they will also have four interior defensive linemen as well. This is a solid veteran group to man Chicago’s defensive front.

Nick: (9) Robert Quinn, Justin Jones, Trevis Gipson, Angelo Blackson, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Dominique Robinson, Mario Edwards Jr., Khyiris Tonga, Michah Dew-Treadway

Robinson and Dew-Treadway each had sacks against the Chiefs on Saturday. If Dew-Treadway can continue making those types of impactful plays in these next two preseason games, he will put himself in a position to be the final defensive lineman added to the 53-man roster. 

Linebacker

Will: (6) Roquan Smith, Nicholas Morrow, Matthew Adams, Joe Thomas, Noah Dawkins, Jack Sanborn

It’s safe to say that Sanborn pretty much solidified his roster spot in his debut. No way the Bears would risk placing him on waivers in hopes of re-signing him to the practice squad. They will want the promising youngster on their roster to join the solid crop of veterans.

Nick: (6) Roquan Smith, Nicholas Morrow, Matthew Adams, Joe Thomas, Jack Sanborn, Caleb Johnson

Sanborn’s legendary career in Chicago started with an epic performance against the Chiefs. Slight exaggeration, but the former Wisconsin Badger finished with seven total tackles, a tackle for loss, an interception and a fumble recovery. Johnson adds plenty of special teams value for Hightower. 

Cornerback

Will: (6) Jaylon Johnson, Kyler Gordon, Kindle Vildor, Thomas Graham Jr., Tavon Young, BoPete Keyes

Even though Graham’s injury has him sliding down the depth chart, I believe the coaches will remember what they saw in OTAs that had him playing with the starters. Keyes has history with both Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus and has had flashes. He’s been a better tackler than others at the position.

Nick: (6) Jaylon Johnson, Kyler Gordon, Kindle Vildor, Thomas Graham Jr., Tavon Young, Duke Shelley

Five of the six corners have been banged up throughout training camp, but they still provide more value when healthy than anyone else on the roster. According to a source, Graham isn’t expected to play in the preseason but the hamstring injury is getting better. 

Safety

Will: (5) Eddie Jackson, Jaquan Brisker, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Dane Cruikshank, Elijah Hicks

This position has been pretty much set. Cruikshank hasn’t flashed, but I’m remaining patient. Plus, his strength is playing on special teams. Hicks has been mentioned by his coaches a couple of times now and I suspect he will make the team and heavily contribute on the third phase.

Nick: (4) Eddie Jackson, Jaquan Brisker, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Dane Cruikshank

The first three are locks, but Cruikshank needs to step up in practice and the final two preseason games. Special teams will play a big part if Cruikshank makes the roster. 

Special Teams

Will: (3) Cairo Santos, Patrick Scales, Trenton Gill

Don’t need to write up anything too “special” here, you already know.

Nick: (3) Cairo Santos, Patrick Scales, Trenton Gill

Well, there are no other kickers, long snappers or punters on the roster.

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