Every day of the 2015 Chicago Bears season, Chicago Sun-Times Sports will revisit its coverage 30 years ago during the 1985 Bears’ run to a Super Bowl title.
Waechter may return this week
Originally published Sept. 3, 1985
The Bears’ final cutdown to 45 players yesterday isn’t necessarily final.
Defensive lineman Henry Waechter might be back this week, coach Mike Ditka said. The Bears could open a roster spot by putting tight end Pat Dunsmore, guard Stefan Humphries or rookie wide receiver James Maness on injured reserve.
Ditka also called keeping eight receivers “a luxury” and said, “It doesn’t mean we’re going to keep five wideouts.”
The fifth was Maness, the third-round choice who Ditka said did not earn a job in camp because his hamstring injury kept him from “having the opportunity.”
“James has not run full-speed yet,” Ditka said. “I know what he did in college. He ran past people consistently. I don’t see that now and I think it’s because he practiced on a leg that wasn’t 100 percent.”
With the roster reduction from 49, the Bears carried fewer players at running back, linebacker, defensive back and offensive line. They wound up with 19 defensive players, enough for defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan but maybe not enough for the kicking teams.
“That’s where it’s going to show,” Ditka said. He kept only six linebackers and seven defensive backs.
Ditka liked what he saw of Tom Thayer at guard, and Thayer also is the backup center, but Ditka still said he would be reluctant to drop to seven offensive linemen if Humphries goes on injured reserve.
Keeping rookie halfback Thomas Sanders over Anthony Hutchison was difficult, Ditka said, because Hutchison “never played bad in a game.” But Sanders is the Bears’ only big reserve halfback.
The roster includes nine rookies and two veteran newcomers, Cliff Thrift and Maury Buford. The rookies include two from the USFL (Thayer and tight end Tim Wrightman), two who weren’t drafted (cornerback Ken Taylor and quarterback Mike Tomczak) and four from the draft’s first four rounds (defensive tackle William Perry, cornerback Reggie Phillips, Maness and kicker Kevin Butler) and one from the ninth round
Bob Thomas was the only player the Bears cut with more than two years’ service. Only three – Hutchison, Waechter and Rob Fada – had more than one year.
Thomas’ departure left Mike Hartenstine the oldest Bear at 32. Hartenstine and Walter Payton are the only players with more than 10 NFL seasons.
Ditka will speak at the first luncheon sponsored by the Sun-Times and WGN today at noon in the Hyatt Regency.