The Chicago Bears roster evaluations are about to enter their most critical phase. Training camp practices have helped establish a hierarchy, but it will be the preseason that helps solidify those decisions. Jobs can be won and lost in these games even if the final scores don’t matter. That is why people saying the games are pointless don’t know what they’re talking about. It may not push a team closer to the Super Bowl, but it can determine the future of several careers.
GM Ryan Poles is already proving to be a different animal. He’s hands-on with his team and is motivated to make the Bears a winner. That means he will take those games seriously. Depending on who fails to show something, he could do some serious roster rearranging when final cuts begin three weeks from now. Here are some names with the most to gain or lose.
Chicago Bears fans should keep these names circled.
There was no doubt in people’s minds that Teven Jenkins would be a starting tackle for the Bears when the off-season began. So much changed in the past eight months. The former 2nd round pick got demoted during spring practices. Then he missed the first week of training camp with an undisclosed injury. All while reports surfaced of him having personality issues. Whatever is going on, the fact remains Jenkins is now way behind in the race for starting jobs on the offensive line. Riley Reiff now looks like the heavy favorite at right tackle, while Michael Schofield seems entrenched at right guard. The only way Jenkins can change the narrative is by dominating the opener.
Injuries struck the Chicago Bears wide receiver group hard over the past week. Byron Pringle, Velus Jones, N’Keal Harry, Dante Pettis, and now David Moore are all out with various ailments. While unfortunate for them, it’s created a priceless opportunity for others on the depth chart. One where a standout game against Kansas City might put them on a path to securing a roster spot. Tajae Sharpe is one such example. He seems to have a budding connection with Justin Fields. The problem is younger players Dazz Newsome and Isaiah Coulter have stepped up too. Newsome also has punt return ability in his favor. Sharpe can’t afford to lay an egg in this game. The margin for error is razor thin.
The veteran defensive lineman was a quality signing for the Bears in 2020. Last year was still more than serviceable, but Edwards developed a bad habit for constant penalties. Now to complicate matters even further, he’s moved to 4-3 defensive end despite initial assumptions he’d be a defensive tackle. That means he must battle for a job in a room that has Robert Quinn, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Trevis Gipson, and Dominique Robinson already. All four feel like locks to make the roster. That means Edwards is either fighting for a fifth spot or must somehow unseat the rookie Robinson.
I'm not saying Jack Sanborn is this draft's annual fourth/fifth round linebacker that ends up playing longer than most of the guys drafted ahead of him, but I'm not *not* saying it either. pic.twitter.com/koTzpczu4n
— Brett Kollmann (@BrettKollmann) March 1, 2022
Linebacker is probably the one position on the Chicago Bears roster in the most flux. Roquan Smith remains out with his contract dispute. That leaves outside linebacker with few answers. Veteran Joe Thomas appears to be the current favorite on the strong side, with Matthew Adams in the mix too. Sanborn has looked solid in training camp as an undrafted rookie. He brings good instincts to the table along with a physical disposition. The big question with him was his speed. He has to show he can make plays despite those criticisms, even if it’s only the preseason.
Thomas Graham Jr.
Nothing derails momentum faster than injuries. Graham suffered a hamstring pull early in camp and has been out since. Before that, he looked like a genuine contender for a starting cornerback job. Now he is buried on the depth chart with serious questions of whether he’ll even make the team. He is already in line to miss the opener against Kansas City. That leaves only two games remaining to get back and make an impression. Head coach Matt Eberflus hasn’t seen him in pads and has no reason to feel loyal since Graham is a holdover from the last regime.