The Chicago Bears are reporting to training camp in Bourbonnais, and while the team doesn’t have a lot of high-profile roster battles this season, there are plenty of other battles for roster spots that will play out over the coming weeks.
The one that every fan is paying attention to is the battle at kicker, where Eddy Pineiro and Elliott Fry appear set to do battle. Other contenders will likely be called upon as teams begin making roster moves during the training camp season, but those two were the winners of a wide-ranging eight-man battle earlier this year.
Other players, including wide receivers Tanner Gentry and Javon Wims, as well as cornerback Stephen Denmark, are going to be vying for at least a few of the 53-man roster spots that will be available when the team gets down to business in Bourbonnais.
Here is our first crack at guessing the Bears’ 53-man roster when they break camp later this summer:
Mitchell Trubisky, Chase Daniel
There isn’t much of a competition at this spot, with Trubisky locked in as the starter and Daniel firmly cemented as his back-up. The only question will be whether Tyler Bray will be retained as a third quarterback, but with the team’s willingness to place that particular roster quarterback on the practice squad, it would be a smart bet that the club will only keep two quarterbacks.
Tarik Cohen, Mike Davis, David Montgomery, Kerrith Whyte Jr.
The Bears have bolstered their running back significantly over the offseason, with only Cohen returning among the group of four players likely to make the cut after training camp.
Montgomery will likely get the bulk of the carries out of the backfield, with Davis assisting in managing that workload, but Cohen will obviously see plenty of touches, and Whyte could be a dynamic playmaker in a lower-profile role.
Taylor Gabriel, Tanner Gentry, Marvin Hall, Anthony Miller, Cordarrelle Patterson, Riley Ridley, Allen Robinson II
At least five of the Bears’ wide receiver spots are all but locked up, but the big question will come over the final two spots in our estimation. Marvin Hall, Tanner Gentry, and Javon Wims all bring unique skillsets to the table, and we’re guessing that two of the three will make the final cut.
Ben Braunecker, Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen, Bradley Sowell
The tight end position is pretty well locked in, but a couple of intriguing storylines have emerged over the offseason. Burton’s mysterious injury before the NFC Wild Card Game, and subsequent surgery over the offseason, threw his status for the beginning of the year into doubt, but it sounds like he’ll be ready to go from the get-go this training camp season.
Sowell’s conversion from offensive line to tight end after last season’s successes in catching the football is also an interesting development, and his versatility will surely play into the Bears’ decisions at the offensive line position.
TJ Clemmings, Rashaad Coward, James Daniels, Ted Larsen, Charles Leno Jr., Kyle Long, Bobby Massie, Cody Whitehair
Clemmings is on the physically unable to perform list to start training camp, and with Sowell’s versatility at the tight end position, there is a possibility he could be starting out playing catch-up in the race to make the Bears’ roster.
The rest of the line is pretty well locked in, with several potential sleepers lurking in the wings if Clemmings can’t make it.
Jonathan Bullard, Roy Robertson-Harris, Eddie Goldman, Akiem Hicks, Bilal Nichols, Nick Williams
The top five guys on the defensive line are absolutely locked in, but what of Jonathan Harris, who is starting training camp on the PUP list, and Nick Williams, who is attempting to get some stability in his career after stops with the Redskins, Falcons, Titans, and Rams over the last few seasons.
We’re gonna go with Williams based on health-related issues for Harris.
Kylie Fitts, Leonard Floyd, Isaiah Irving, Joel Iyiegbuniwe, Nick Kwiatkoski, Aaron Lynch, Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith, Danny Trevathan
The linebacker cupboard for the Bears, once barren in the recent past, is now chock-full of good options, and it’s going to be tough for players like Kevin Pierre-Louis, Jameer Thurman, and Josh Woods to break through and claim one of the roster spots.
Injuries could obviously muddle the picture, but for the most part, it would appear that this position is a definite strength for the Bears.
Prince Amukamara, Kyle Fuller, Sherrick McManis, Duke Shelley, Buster Skrine, Kevin Tolliver II
The only real issue for the Bears at cornerback is just how many they’re going to keep, and whether Stephen Denmark, who has scant experience at the position but showed some incredible potential during his final collegiate season, can earn his way onto the roster.
He’ll be one player to watch, along with Kevin Tolliver II, but the other five are safely on the 53-man roster barring injury.
Deon Bush, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Eddie Jackson
There wasn’t going to be a whole lot of drama at safety for the Bears this season, but when Clinton-Dix went down with an injury prior to training camp, there was, at least a little bit, of speculation as to whether he’d be ready for Week 1 against the Packers.
Outside of that concern, it would seem likely that the Bears will keep four safeties, with Clinton-Dix and Jackson pencilled in as the Week 1 starters barring a change.
Kicker Eddy Pineiro, Punter Pat O’Donnell, Long Snapper Patrick Scales
So we’re just going to be honest here: the kicker battle is so wide-open at this point that predicting a winner almost feels silly, but based on previous experience of the two main contenders, we’re leaning Pineiro at this point in the process.
That being said, there is a strong likelihood the Bears will try to sign another guy during the process, and that would change the whole game for their kicking battle.