The Chicago Bears didn’t take long to tweak their main roster after final cuts were made on August 31st. After waivers went through, GM Ryan Pace began piecing together the team’s 16-man practice squad. It marks the second year the NFL has kept it at such a large size. This in an effort to help teams combat the ongoing challenges of COVID-19. It offers the team a chance to secure players they otherwise might not have been able to.
As things stand, the squad is mostly complete. Right now there are 13 official names signed with a 14th expected to join by Thursday provided he clears waivers. One of the most interesting developments? The squad included not one, not two, but three draft picks. Two of them are from the 2021 class. That sort of thing is rare for almost any team.
A layer of intrigue for an otherwise somewhat dull NFL procedure. So who have the Bears stashed away?
Chicago Bears practice squad features many familiar faces
DL Auzoyah Alufohai
This was one of the more unexpected names to land on the squad. The Bears tried out the former Houston Texans defensive lineman last week. It seems they liked what they saw enough to offer a spot. The former undrafted free agent played in three games last year, making one tackle. He came from the University of West Georgia and was noted by draft experts for his size, long arms, good power, and improving pass rush skill. What makes this interesting is the team opted to take him over Daniel Archibong, their undrafted rookie who had a pretty good preseason.
OLB Charles Snowden
The Bears’ most prized undrafted acquisition didn’t disappoint. He looked solid throughout the preseason, notching a sack and multiple quarterback pressures. However, he faced a steep climb to make the roster with Trevis Gipson and Jeremiah Attaochu ahead of him. Besides, Snowden has some work to do in order to improve his strength.
OLB Sam Kamara
Snowden was expected. Kamara was the bigger surprise. A defensive tackle in college, the Bears shifted him to outside linebacker where he was a disruptive presence. He still looks too much like a defensive lineman though. He’ll need to drop weight and hone his body more towards what that position requires.
CB Thomas Graham Jr.
A 6th round pick this past April, there was a belief Graham could contribute right away at cornerback. That didn’t turn out to be the case. The rookie was uneven in both camp and the preseason. He still offers a lot of the things that made him enticing at Oregon, but it’s also clear he needs more work before seeing Sundays.
DB Teez Tabor
The former 2nd round pick of Detroit really looked like he was finding a home at safety after floundering at cornerback. He had a strong week before and during the first preseason game. Sadly, an injury derailed his progress, enabling Marqui Christian to beat him out for one of the last defensive back spots.
WR Isaiah Coulter
The Chicago Bears had the former 5th round pick in for a tryout two weeks ago. He impressed them enough to earn a job late in training camp. He made some nice plays and had a couple of catches in the preseason finale. It wasn’t enough to crack the roster, but it did earn him a longer look on the practice squad. A nice mix of size and speed.
WR Dazz Newsome
Another 6th round pick from this year that didn’t make the cut. Newsome was more of an unfortunate situation. He started off minicamps well but suffered a broken collarbone. That derailed his progress from the start and he never quite looked like himself until late in the preseason. By then, it was too late. Thankfully he will stick around and has a chance to work his way back up the ladder with time.
WR Jon’Vea Johnson
The former undrafted free agent bounced around the league for a few years before landing in Chicago. He built a nice connection with Justin Fields during training camp. While he didn’t do much in the preseason, his speed and quickness were enough to earn him this spot. Whether that leads to something more depends on him?
WR Rodney Adams*
It was a great story to see Adams crack the main roster. Sadly, it didn’t last long. As the Bears grabbed veterans Nsimba Webster and Breshad Perriman, a sacrifice was needed. Adams was the obvious choice. Though waived, expectations are he’ll land on the practice squad. He had some nice moments in the preseason but too many drops and offered little on special teams. Still, he may get another chance down the line.
RB Artavis Pierce
Pierce did some decent work for the team last year as a rookie including a touchdown run. Sadly that didn’t give him enough momentum to stop the Bears from adding more help at running back this offseason. Still, Pierce offers enough versatility to earn this spot on the practice squad and may be called upon in the future.
RB Ryan Nall
Nobody has greater resilience than Nall. Every year it looks like he may not stick around anymore and every year he defies the odds. The guy works his butt off and keeps finding ways to stay with the team. While his offensive value is negligible, it is likely the Bears are keeping him around for his special teams experience.
OL Arlington Hambright
Their 7th round pick from last year battled hard as a rookie when injuries struck the offensive line. However, a logjam of quality blockers on the interior made it tough for Hambright to stick on the roster this time around. Having him in emergency reserve doesn’t hurt though.
OL Dieter Eiselen
Perhaps one of the most improved offensive linemen this preseason was Eiselen. He didn’t look out of place at guard, showing progress in pass protection. It’s amazing to see how far he’s come from Olympic hopeful to NFL guard in just a few years. Here is hoping he gets an opportunity at some point down the line. The kid has potential.
K Brian Johnson
The Chicago Bears learned last year how valuable it can be to have a backup kicker. Cairo Santos became that guy in 2020 and he took full advantage when an opportunity arose after Eddy Pineiro got hurt. Johnson looked sharp in the preseason. He has talent. Having him in reserve can’t be a bad thing.