By the time the Chicago Bears kick off the regular season on September 10, they will have cut their roster down from the 90-man unit they had for their final practice on August 24 to the league-required 53-man version. Most of the spots at the top of the depth chart are decided. But there are plenty of players on the back end who need this week to showcase what they can do.
Letting those players know where they stand is essential for Bears head coach Matt Eberflus.
“Everybody in the building deserves the truth and honesty,” Eberflus said after the team’s final practice before the 4 PM ET deadline for roster cutdowns on August 29. “So we’re very upfront. Everything we do is on the table, nothing’s under the table. It’s all right here. So we all talk about it.”
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“All these games are a opportunity for you to be able to showcase yourself, not just to the Bears. But to every team in the league,” Lewis said after the preseason opener that saw him record 2.0 sacks – including a strip sack – against the Tennessee Titans. “So I take these games very serious.”
Lewis is one of those players who has made the most of his opportunities. And it’s not like teams can have too many pass rushers. But EDGE is suddenly a position of depth for the Bears following the addition of Yannick Ngakoue earlier this month.
That is five guys who all were either signed this offseason or on the roster last season giving them proven production in the system, even if some of it was admittedly disappointing last year, as was the case for Gipson and Robinson. It’s a delicate balance whittling down a roster as it is without factoring in the sheer numbers of players who need to be cut at once and the injuries the Bears have endured.
“If it’s a competition, if it’s a discussion we need to have, we have it,” Eberflus said. “And it’s face-to-face, it’s man-to-man. And it’s with me, or with the position coach, or all of us involved. So that’s how we operate.”
The operation gets a little bit cleaner on Tuesday.
Candidates for Bears Roster Cutdowns
With 37 players needing to get cut, here are some who could latch on quickly somewhere else after strong showings in training camp and/or the preseason:
Terrell Lewis – EDGE: Lewis has been the Bears’ second-best defender off the EDGE, per Pro Football Focus behind only Gipson – who ranks second overall at the position – and is fifth overall. He is a former third-round pick which is fairly high so another opportunity shouldn’t be too difficult to come by after what he’s shown.
Stephen Carlson – TE: Carlson spent two seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He has not seen action during the regular season since the 2020 season. Like Lewis, Carlson finds himself playing a position of strength for the Bears and has gotten just two catches for six yards on three targets through two games.
Daurice Fountain – WR: Fountain has good size and a familiarity with Eberflus and general manager Ryan Poles. Both had him on the roster at their former stops. He is currently their eighth highest-graded player (second among wide receivers) heading into Week 3 of the preseason. Fountain has six grabs on seven targets for 111 yards and one touchdown.
Michael Ojemudia – CB: Ojemudia burst onto the scene with the Denver Broncos in 2020. He forced four fumbles and broke up six passes while making 11 starts in 16 appearances. But he could be the odd man out of an even deeper cornerback position than when he was claimed last December.
D’Anthony Jones – EDGE: Jones is slightly undersized at 6-foot-2, though he is also listed at 276 pounds. He is disruptive, though, and could have a future as a situational pass rusher. Jones has the Bears’ third-highest grade as a pass-rusher. He ranks behind Gipson and Lews and the second-best run-stopping grade behind Robinson, per Pro Football Focus.