Bears Camp Roster Taking Shape.....................

Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by soulman, Jun 21, 2014.

  1. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    Windy City Gridiron - Being who you thought we were since 2005!
    Bears roster takes shape going into camp

    By Sam Householder@SamHouseholder on Jun 20 2014, 3:00p 32
    [​IMG]
    David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

    The Bears wrapped up the offseason yesterday and transition into the void before training camp, when the 2014 season will officially begin. The Bears made some roster moves yesterday and their training camp roster is almost set. Let's take a look at what it means.

    Currently the Bears have 88 players on their roster, and will likely fill the last two spots imminently.
    That aside, the Bears pretty much have their training camp roster in place. Sure, maybe the back end of the roster will change a couple more times, in addition to the aforementioned two open spots, but nothing major.

    So what do the roster moves yesterday, as well as who is on the roster, tell us about the 2014 Bears?
    First let's look at the guys who were given their walking papers yesterday.

    Israel Idonije, DE - Fan-favorite Idonije left the Bears last year and had a non-impact season with the Lions. He's older and, while there seemed to be a fit, he was running with the threes and the fours and the Bears could get both younger and cheaper by going in another direction.

    Sean Catthouse, DB - Catthouse, an undrafted free agent of the Chargers in 2012, he spent time on and off with the Bears last season and has appeared in two NFL games. He was, at best, roster depth; at worst, a camp body/practice squad fodder.

    Jerrod Johnson, QB - Johnson is a big, athletic QB who has spent the majority of the offseason with the Bears. The team is not his first stop in the NFL and may not be his last. Once Clausen was brought in it seemed all but certain he was the odd man out, with David Fales being a draft pick and Jordan Palmer the incumbent.

    Fendi Onobun, TE - What's left to say about Fendi? He couldn't make a catch when it counted to save his life. It's a cruel irony in a way because for years the Bears had guys who could catch but couldn't get open (Andy Fantuz, Brandon Rideau, Mike Hass) and now they found a guy who out-of-this-world athleticism at a position and he can't catch. The Bears will look elsewhere at TE.

    To fill the positions they cut yesterday they signed a DE out of Rutgers named Jamil Merrell (6'4" 252 lbs) and Wisconsin LB Conor O'Neill (6'0" 240 lbs). Both are undrafted rookies. The Bears will likely add a TE to at least one of the two remaining open spots; the other is a wildcard.

    As the roster stands it should give some clues to how position battles will shape up next month in Bourbonnais.

    1) Back up TE and QB are wide open - With entrenched starters Martellus Bennett and Jay Cutler, respectively, it will be up to players like Dante Rosario, the other Zach Miller and Matthew Mulligan, as well as a player yet to be determined. Miller and Mulligan have combined for 61 catches, 630 yards and six touchdowns while Rosario would seem to have the upper hand in career production (100/1,119/8) and that he's been with the team for a whole season already.

    Palmer, the Rosario of the QB group, maintains a slight edge in that competition due to familiarity and time with the team; however, don't sleep on Jimmy Clausen. Reports have been good about Clausen and he had to show something physically this week in order to earn the call to camp, because he was behind the others in terms of the playbook. Clausen is a reclamation project but Marc Trestman could get something out of him.

    2) Defensive line spots will be worth watching - The Bears had wanted to keep more DL on the roster last year but the surprise retirement of Sedrick Ellis threw a wrench in those plans and, when injuries mounted up, the team was shorthanded. The Bears finished last season with nine defensive linemen on the team (three DTs and six DEs, including Corey Wootton who played out of position) and two on injured/reserve. Expect the Bears to carry ten this year.

    Currently the Bears have 15 DL listed on their roster (That's counting the Idonije/Merrell swap). Expect the final spot to come down to David Bass, Austen Lane, Cornelius Washington and Trevor Scott at DE. DT will be harder for camp bodies Lee Pegues and Brandon Dunn to crack with all the draft picks and established players there. The final couple of DE spots could be an interesting storyline to watch

    3) Linebacker has sneaky depth - It's easy to look at linebacker and see the position as one of concern; however it could also be seen as one of strength. As it stands, two positions are being battled for next to Lance Briggs: Jon Bostic is competing both with D.J. Williams for the MLB spot, and with Shea McClellin for the strong side spot.

    Competition breeds success and, by most accounts, Bostic looks as good as a player can without pads on. He's said himself that the defensive changes feel 'natural' and that he feels like the game is slowing down for him. Even if he can't beat out a solid veteran like Williams, holding off McClellin, who is changing positions, would mean that the defense gets his athleticism on the field. McClellin, for his part, apparently seems to be fitting in at LB, so even if he loses out he should be able to learn from the background and, if pressed into duty, hopefully be able to hold his own.

    4) Back up running back is interesting too - The No. 2 spot behind Matt Forte could be the back up position that makes the most impact for the Bears, despite TE and QB being more talked about. Spelling Forte is a priority and having a quality No. 2 in place should something happen to Forte is of the utmost importance for the offense. Things could easily go off the rails if Cutler is out, and the offense has enough receiving weapons already that a second TE isn't much more than a blocker; the offense should be able to skirt by for a short period of time without the Black Unicorn, but Forte's place in the Trestman offense is pretty huge.

    Trestman's reference to the "logjam" behind Forte could be the usual rosy June football talk, or it could be that the Bears have an interesting set of talent at the position. I have a hard time seeing the team carrying any more than three backs out of Michael Ford, Ka'Deem Carey, Shaun Draughn and Jordan Lynch. Unless one of those guys impresses enough to make it worth replacing Tony Fiametta, expect the back up RB spot to be one to monitor.

    These are just the big four things that have jumped out at me since the offseason ended. There is also a safety battle going on, but I omitted that because injuries at the position have kept it from being much of a battle. That one will be one to watch at camp but it hasn't been much throughout the spring as Chris Conte and Craig Steltz were shelved.

    Which position battles and storylines caught your eye this spring? What are your thoughts on these position battles?
  2. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    Courtesy of our friends at WCG I thought this was a nice summary or the State of the Bears heading into next months grind and the preseason. Not many surprises as far as some of the moves they made this month except maybe the addition of Jimmy Clausen.

    Sad to see Izzy go but by releasing him and Jerrod Johnson now both may have an opportunity to catch on elsewhere or Izzy may decide to call it quits and quietly retire as a Chicago Bear. I fear Fendi Onobun is out of chances and that this was his last. Too many drops or missed opportunities.

    As it turns out Izzy's release should be good news for fans since it should mean that the younger guys like Bass and Washington look better this year. There should be 5 DE slots so it's the two youngsters battling the vets, Austen and Scott for them. DT I think is pretty well set with the rookies backing Paea, Ratliff and Collins.

    Looks like no one is handing the #2 and #3 RB spots to anyone just yet or even declaring a leader or leaders of the pack. So Lynch is still in the hunt and out of all of them he may well be the best STeams guy and he'll need to be in order to stick. I think Lynch is this years Dane Sanzenbacher Award fan favorite underdog.

    I highlighted the fact that Dante Rosario has caught some balls in his career (100/1119/8tds) even if they total just a little more than Bennett caught in one season. We know they guy is a pretty tenacious blocker but this would tend to say that he can catch a ball if they ever throw to him. I'm expecting him to stick around because of his STeams play and because of DeCamillis.

    The article also points out what I've been getting from the OTA and mini-camp reports as well. We actually have four LBs who could start and play well. Right now I think it'll be Briggs, DWill, and Bostic lining up on 1st and 2nd downs with McClellin coming in as a 3rd down Rushbacker along with maybe Bostic. Briggs and DWill may become two down players in some series. I guess the nice thing is that with the versatility Bostic and McClellin have we may have a LB rotation too.
  3. Blue Horse-shoe

    Blue Horse-shoe Veteran

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    Keep Carey and Lynch ( who could serve as an emergency QB if 2 get hurt in the same game ). It's happened b4 .
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  4. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    I really do want to see Lynch make in the worst possible way but boy it's gonna be a challenge all the way. If they can't keep him on the 53 man roster I'm relatively sure they'll put him on the PS if they can get him there. I really could see him adding another 10-12lbs in the offseason and becoming a power back or a FB but more of a ball carrier than just a spare OG playing in the backfield. The guy wants to play and I really like those 110% committed high effort guys who have some real talent mixed in and I believe he does.
  5. jbunch14

    jbunch14 Veteran

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    I really think Bostic and Shea are going to shine this camp and pre-season, and it will be Bostic starting in the middle and Shea starting at SLB. DWill is a solid player, but the arrow for those two seems to be pointing up, and I think the coaches are going to fall in love with their athleticism and versatility. I will also have a close eye on C Jones in camp, as I think he could be a real gem.
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  6. tbear1

    tbear1 Veteran

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    This would be the best case scenario for the team. We have two young starting LB from the draft. The key is that they deserve to be there and it isn't a case of best of a bad group. I am hopeful we pull this off.
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  7. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    The greatest advantage the Bears have in those three is that they're probably somewhat interchangeable as far as how they might play in this defense. All three have spent or have been spending time at both MLB and SLB so if Bostic wins the MLB spot DWill could move to SLB and McClellin might be used a roaming pass rusher. Or maybe DWill plays the running downs and Bostic and McClellin play on the more obvious second and long or third and long passing downs.

    This is why I was saying that along with Briggs we actually seem to have four starting caliber LBs plus a guy like Jordan Senn whose had a fair amount of NFL starts as well as an immediate backup for Briggs at WLB. I think Greene and Jones will have to earn their stripes playing STeams but overall it's a pretty good looking bunch of LBs at least on paper.
  8. Grizzblue

    Grizzblue Pro-Bowler

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    Im saying it again and have been all offseason. I think there is more to be excited about at LB instead of worried about. Bostic and Shea could both have solid years, and there really isn't a limit on either's ceiling. We just don't know and I think there are pretty decent odds that at least one of them looks like a long term starter. C Jones is interesting as well. Can't sleep on him. Those 2 LB battles will be fun ones to watch.

    Since we are on the topic of young defenders, I'm excited to how the DL pans out. Camp will be fun to watch Ferguson and Sutton battle with the vets. Hopefully they impress and get good time in the rotation.
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  9. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    Good post Grizz. I like our group at LB too. When you look across the board, with the exception of Jones, these young guys were all high or mid round draft picks and going into his senior year Jones was ranked as one as well. Even the vets were drafted in the top half of the draft, DWill in one and Briggs in three. Senn is the only UDFA in the top echelon.

    I really like the addition of Reggie Herring as the LB coach. I think he's the exact kind of no nonsense "old school" coach we needed to straighten out the mess we had there. With him you're either gonna learn to play your position and play it right or you won't play. He and Pasqualoni will both help turn that defense around. They're both smart and experienced guys.

    The guy I'm most curious about upfront is Sutton. I want to know if we really did get the next best thing to Aaron Donald or not. I think he can be that guy but what I want is to actually see he him be that guy. I want to see him in the other guys backfield a lot. Ferguson I'm more patient about. I think he's a late bloomer who may need a year in the rotation before he get it but he looks like a bull of a kid so I imagine he can at least add something as a run stopper.
  10. JJ-30

    JJ-30 Veteran

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    Can't wait for the pre season, really want to see these players in action, on the field in a game.
  11. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    I think the problem is Briggs, and having to play w/a shoulder sling this year. And while I like DJ, he's had problems staying healthy.

    While Shea's ceiling might have no limit, neither does his basement. As a LB he'll still have to take on rb's(which he wasn't good at) and he'll still have to shed bigger OL'men(which he wasn't good at). But he should be able to hide it better at LB then DE.

    Bostic and Greene both need to be able to make huge strides from last year to help solidify the longterm lb depth. Hopefully Jones can also take a step and make the team as a ST'r and grow into a potential LB on the D squad.

    The DL has me far more excited then the LB'rs, the floor is relatively high and the there is also no ceiling to what they can do.
  12. little bear

    little bear Assistant Head Coach

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    ^^^^This
  13. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    Lynch is not going to ever see time as qb; it's like the Tillman move to S thing last year, it's never going to happen. Emery and Trestman have both stated multiple times he's not seen as a qb, and hasn't taken any snaps as qb.
  14. shark86x

    shark86x Pro-Bowler SuperFan

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    Agreed. Sweetness was always available as a backup/emergency QB. Good to have on the roster. Not to mention the occasional trick play.
  15. weneedmorelinemen

    weneedmorelinemen Veteran

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    Carey at #2 and Ford or Draughn at #3. Lynch can hang on the practice squad.

    What is with this fascination with Lynch as the emergency QB about? Payton was a rb first. This kid is still learning how to play the position and blocking schemes. How about they cover the RB job first?
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