After the Cuts, Who Are the Bears? - NBC Chicago
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After the Cuts, Who Are the Bears?



    The Bears cut down to a 53-man roster over the weekend. Veterans Desmond Clark, Chester Taylor and Marcus Harrison were let go, and the team picked up safety Brandon Merriweather, who was released by the Patriots.

    Now that we know the makeup, take a closer look at just who comprises your 2011 Chicago Bears:

    Quarterbacks: In his third year with the Bears, Jay Cutler had what offensive coordinator Mike Martz called an "exceptional" camp. He's showed improved footwork and a slimmer physique, and is looking to finally meet the expectations set out for him from the second he was traded to Chicago. Behind him is Caleb Hanie, who has shown flashes of brilliance, and the rookie Nathan Enderle, who still has much to learn about the pro game.

    Offensive line: After giving up 57 sacks last season the Bears O-line needed a makeover. And they got one, for better or worse. They  let  their longtime center go, drafted a new tackle and shifted around some spots. From left to right it goes: J'Marcus Webb, Chris Williams, Roberto Garza, Lance Louis, Gabe Carimi. If Louis falters, Garza can return to right guard, and Chris Spencer, a new acquisition from Seattle, will play center. Frank Omiyale and Edwin Williams are the back-ups.

    Receivers and tight ends: The men entrusted with catching Cutler's passes also created the most controversy during the preseason. Johnny Knox lost his starting spot to Roy Williams, who then did not perform well in pre-season games. Devin Hester and Earl Bennett will also be in the regular rotation for receptions. Sam Hurd, a former Dallas Cowboy, and Dane Sanzenbacher, the undrafted free agent from Ohio State, will also battle for reps.

    Tight end will have a very different look this year, as the Bears traded away Greg Olsen and cut Brandon Manumaleuna. Kellen Davis, in his fourth year with the Bears, will start. He has missed games during the pre-season because of a back injury, but that isn't expected to affect him as the season starts. Matt Spaeth, who played for the Steelers for four years, and Kyle Adams, an undrafted free agent from Purdue, will back him up.

    Running backs
    : Matt Forte gained more than 1,500 yards from scrimmage last season, and is expected to top that this year. Chester Taylor, who the Bears tried to used as a back-up to Matt Forte, was cut from the team and landed in Arizona. In his place, the Bears will use Marion Barber, who ran for six years for the Cowboys, and Kahlil Bell, who was impressive in the pre-season.

    Defensive line: Julius Peppers, who can play both sides of the line, will anchor the Bears front four, along with Israel Idonije. The two combined for 16 sacks in 2010. Henry Melton, who turned heads during camp, Anthony Adams, who sat out much of the pre-season with an ankle injury but is expected to play Sunday, and Matt Toeina will share reps on the interior.

    The back-up situation is a bit murkier, as Corey Wootton injured his knee in the pre-season. He is expected to return soon, but in the meantime, expect Amobi Okoye to be a back-up for all defensive line spots. Rookie Stephen Paea will back up the tackles.

    Linebackers: Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs will continue to be the heart of the Bears defense. Briggs' contract negotiations don't appear to be headed for a trade or a holdout. Going into his fifth year, Nick Roach will get the starting shot. They will be backed up by Brian Iwuh, a special teams standout, and Dom DeCicco, an undrafted free agent out of Pittsburgh. The Bears' sixth round draft pick, J.T. Thomas, starts the season on the injured reserve with a back injury.

    Defensive backfield: Charles Tillman will start his ninth season with the Bears in the familiar role of cornerback, with Tim Jennings flanking the other side. Major Wright and Chris Harris are expected to be the starting safeties, but new Bear Merriweather will put pressure on Wright to perform. Zack Bowman, D.J. Moore and Corey Graham will back up Tillman and Jennings, but expect Graham's greatest contributions to be on special teams. Back-up safeties Craig Steltz and Chris Conte have battled injuries, but are expected to be ready for Sunday. If they're not, undrafted free agent Winston Venable can step in.

    Special teams
    : Patrick Mannelly will continue to be the long-snapping stalwart for the Bears. He will snap to Robbie Gould, who makes 83.3 percent of his kicks, and Adam Podlesh, a new punter.