Projecting the final Bears roster

This one was tough.

When we did this drill at the start of training camp last year, there were more than 40 players on the Bears virtually guaranteed to make the team’s final 53-man roster. This year, you’d be lucky to find 30.

That’s what happened when the Bears decided to restart, removing players who had the résumé, guaranteed money or draft status to claim a roster spot. The result of that bloodshed: a 2022 squad that, at the start of training camp, isn’t shaping up to be dangerous, deep or expensive.

Here’s a look at the Bears’ 90-man roster and predictions on who will make the final 53-man lineup on Aug. 30:

OFFENSE

Quarterbacks (2 goalies/3 listed)

they are keeping: Justin Fields and Trevor Siemian

in the bubble: Nathan Peterman

Battle to see: There really isn’t one, and that’s what puts Justin Fields in a much better position than he was last year, when he was second on the rope.

the big number:635 — Snapshots taken by Fields last year. First overall pick Trevor Lawrence had 1,078.

He said that: “[Fields] He is a kind of born leader. So we’re lucky to have a guy like that at the helm of this.” — offensive coordinator Luke Getsy

Runners (5/6)

They are likely to stay: David Montgomery, Khalil Herbert, Trestan Ebner, Darrynton Evans, FB Khari Blasingame

in the bubble: De’Montre Tuggle

Battle to see: How the Bears split the workload between Montgomery and backup Herbert. Last year, the Getsy Packers gave starter Aaron Jones 11.4 runs per game and backup AJ Dillon 11.

The big number: 4.41 — Yards per carry Herbert averaged during the four games in which Montgomery was injured.

He said that: He is fast and cunning. He is going to help us a lot.” — Montgomery, on Ebner

Wide Receivers (6/13)

They are likely to keep: Darnell Mooney, Byron Pringle, Equanimeous St. Brown, Velus Jones, N’Keal Harry, Dazz Newsome

In the bubble: Tajae Sharpe (NFI), Nsimba Webster, Isaiah Coulter, Chris Finke, David Moore, Kevin Shaa, Dante Pettis

Battle to see: The Bears against every available receiver in the league. The guess here is that the Bears add at least two receivers for Week 1.

The big number: 2 — Newsome sacks last year. He is one of two Bears receivers who came back and caught a pass for the team in 2021.

He said that: “If it is to show that they can play [or] proving that they can maintain success for several years, I think they all have a chip on their shoulder to prove that they are that type. We’ll see.” — Poles on receivers

Tight Ends (3/6)

They are likely to keep: Cole Kmet, James O’Shaughnessy, Ryan Griffin

In the bubble: jake tongs rysen john chase allen

Battle to see: Kmet vs expectations. Kmet took a leap last year, but needs another. With journeymen behind him, he is one of a handful of players the Bears can least afford to lose.

the big number: 0 — Kmet’s touchdown receptions last year.

He said that: “When we hit the red zone, [Kmet] It’s going to be someone we lean on, for sure.” — Offensive Coordinator Luke Getsy

Offensive Line (9/16)

They are likely to stick with: LT Riley Reiff, LG Cody Whitehair, C Lucas Patrick, RG Michael Schofield, RT Larry Borom, C/G Sam Mustipher, T Teven Jenkins, T Braxton Jones, G Ja’Tyre Carter

In the bubble: Doug Kramer, Zach Thomas, Lachavious Simmons, Dieter Eiselen, Jean Delance, Julien Davenport, Shon Coleman

Battle to see: Reiff and Schofield vs. Father Time. It’s a bad sign that both veterans, signed on the eve of camp, are favorites to start. It’s even worse that Patrick broke his thumb during second practice.

The big number: 83 — Reiff’s Pro Football Focus free agent ranking, one spot ahead of former Bears tackle Germain Ifedi. The site predicted that “franchises with a disastrous boarding situation may turn to him late in the process to plug a hole.” Bingo.

He said that: “[The Bears’ young tackles] they are athletic. Truly athletic. They are going to season. Obviously, it takes time, especially today in the NFL with pass-rushers.” —Reiff

DEFENDING

Defensive Line (9/15)

They are likely to keep: Robert Quinn, Justin Jones, Angelo Blackson, Trevis Gipson, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Mario Edwards, Khyiris Tonga, Dominique Robinson, Mike Pennel

In the bubble: Carson Taylor, Charles Snowden, LaCale London, Micah Dew-Treadway, Auzoyah Alufohai, Sam Kamara`

Battle to see: Quinn against the commercial market. One year after setting the franchise single-season sack record, Quinn is a rare veteran the Bears haven’t moved on — yet.

The big number: 10 — The PFF gave Gipson the 10th-best quarterback rating in the NFL last year, behind nine (mostly) household names: Myles Garrett, Maxx Crosby, TJ Watt, Joey Bosa, Rashan Gary, Nick Bosa, Jonathan Greenard, Von Miller, and Chandler Jones.

He said that: “It’s good to have him back and to be in the same environment as him.” — Gipson on Quinn, who skipped practice in the spring.

Linebackers (5/9)

They are likely to keep: Roquan Smith (PUP), Nicholas Morrow, Matt Adams, Caleb Johnson, Joe Thomas

In the bubble: Noah Dawkins, CJ Avery, Christian Albright, Jack Sanborn

Battle to see: Smith against the Poles. Both sides have remained respectful in a contract-extension matchup that has kept Smith out of practice during the first week of camp. However, the closer it gets to the regular season, the more disruptive it becomes.

The big number: $98.5 million — That’s what Shaquille Leonard received on a five-year deal last season — a figure Smith will try to top.

He said that: “He is the heart and soul of the defense. His presence is always missed when he is not around”. — Security Eddie Jackson, on Smith

Cornerbacks (6/12)

They are likely to keep: Jaylon Johnson, Kyler Gordon, Kindle Vildor, Tavon Young, Thomas Graham, Duke Shelley

In the bubble: Lamar Jackson, BoPete Keyes, Michael Joseph, Jaylon Jones, Greg Stroman, Jayson Stanley

Battle to see: Where will Gordon play? The rookie’s ability to alternate between outside cornerback and nickel cornerback gives the Bears flexibility to compare players in different roles. That means that Vildor, Graham and Young are in competition with each other.

The big number: 103.3 — The passer rating allowed by the Bears’ defense last season, the highest in the NFL.

He said that: “The plays that [coordinator Alan Williams] the calls may be different. But for me, my techniques, my zones are really the same. I mean, some of the readings and things, some of the progressions may be slightly different. But defense is defense.” — Johnson

Securities (5/7)

They are likely to keep: Eddie Jackson, Jaquan Brisker, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Elijah Hicks, Dane Cruikshank

In the bubble: AJ Thomas, Jon Alexander

Battle to see: Can Cruikshank catch up? The veteran, who missed OTAs and started training camp on the Non-Football Injury List, can be a special weapon for the Bears. He played on 83 percent of the Titans’ kickoffs in 2019 and 51 percent last year.

The big number: 3 — Houston-Carson finished on 419 defensive attempts last year. Entering 2021, he had only played 176 in five years.

He said that: “You just have to be patient. I will be patient. No matter how long it lasts.” —Jackson

SPECIAL TEAMS (3/3)

They are likely to stay: 3

In: K Cairo Santos, P Trenton Gill, LS Patrick Scales

Battle to see: Gill could kick in place of Santos.

The big number: 6 — Missed field goals by Santos in two seasons. Cody Parkey missed seven in 2018.

He said that: “It can change minute by minute, quarter by quarter. So you just have to be aware of those situations and just switch.” — Richard Hightower, special teams coordinator, on the weather at Soldier Field

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