One thing about training camp? Like the offseason and everything else about the NFL, it’s almost impossible to predict. There is no telling which player may step up during practices, drawing the attention of coaches. For some, it gets to such an extent that they actually force a difficult decision that sees them claim a roster spot over somebody most people may have assumed was a lock. It’s happened for every NFL team including the Chicago Bears.
People are already making assumptions about what the final 53-man roster will look like this September. A natural occurrence following the end of the draft. Still, a lot can happen over the next four months. So looking at the roster as it’s currently configured, who are some overlooked names in the mix who could end up surprising? Here are five to keep circled on your boards.
— GCU Men's Basketball (@GCU_MBB) December 4, 2016
Chicago Bears players you forgot that could crack the roster
An important question is worth asking. Beyond Jimmy Graham and Cole Kmet, who do the Bears have at tight end? Right now the favorite to be that #3 option is J.P. Holtz due to his experience and versatility to play both tight end and fullback. However, one has to think the team would prefer somebody who offers viability as a weapon in the passing game. Something that Holtz simply is not.
Clark signed with the Bears initially back in January of 2020. A former basketball player at USC, he transitioned to football late and had to work his way up the ladder through tryouts and scrimmages until he finally earned an offer to join their training camp last year. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury stunted his progress but the team liked him enough to bring him back for another year. He’s 6’7 with standout athleticism. If he’s improved his overall grasp of the position? Keeping him as the #3 guy could make sense.
The Bears made several new additions to their offensive line this offseason. Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom in the draft. Then Gage Cervenka, Dareuan Parker, and Gunnar Vogel as undrafted free agents. It was a clear statement by the team that they intend to strengthen that area of the depth chart after the injuries that plagued them last year. It also makes it easy to forget they have Hambright whom they drafted just last year.
Don't STEP to Arlington Hambright.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) April 25, 2020
Granted, he was just a 7th round pick but the Bears still thought enough of him to put him on the active roster and even played him some snaps last year. They were encouraged by his mixture of athleticism and technique. The big question for him was whether he could add enough strength to handle the NFL level. If he has? Don’t be surprised if he’s a name that gets mentioned often in camp observations.
The little brother of Khalil Mack was a fun topic of discussion last year but never managed to crack the roster. He remained a fixture on the practice squad. This year it could prove even more challenging for him to make the leap what with new arrivals like Jeremiah Attaochu and Charles Snowden standing in his way. Not to mention the ever-plucky James Vaughters who continues to find his way onto the roster.
Even so, this guy has the Mack genes in him. He showed a ton of promise during his final year at Buffalo and now he’s had a year in an NFL weight room to improve his overall conditioning. The big question is whether he’s been able to master the intricacies of rushing the passer. Hand usage, leverage, and having a plan of attack. Competition aside, keep his name in mind as camp gets going in July.
The exits of Kyle Fuller and Buster Skrine have created an interesting situation at cornerback for the Chicago Bears defense. Outside of Jaylon Johnson they really don’t have any stability at the position. Desmond Trufant was signed but his last two seasons have been plagued by injuries. This is often a situation that creates added opportunities. The team really liked Roberson last year. Enough to make him the highest offer a CFL player has seen since Cameron Wake several years ago.
Sadly the Bears never got a chance to see the guy in action. While training in the offseason, Roberson broke his foot. He was placed on the non-football injury list and missed the season. Now he’s healthy and eager to take advantage of the opportunity in front of him. The guy is athletic with good size and had 10 interceptions in two seasons up in Canada. He could easily push for a roster spot if he stands out in camp.
Typically the Chicago Bears carry five safeties into the regular season. Eddie Jackson and Tashaun Gipson should be the starters while Deon Bush and DeAndre Houston-Carson return as backups. That should leave one spot remaining to grab. Lucas fell out of the public eye when he elected to opt-out of playing in 2020 due to the pandemic. This could make it difficult for him to crack the roster. Especially with Marqui Christian in the mix too.
That said, Lucas has one possible advantage that could put him over the top. His value as a special teams player. It was why he stood out in Kansas City and the main reason they signed him in the first place last year. If he can remind the coaches of this in training camp and the preseason? They may decide to finish their original plan.