Here come OTAs: Examining Ryan Pace’s first Bears roster

SHARE Here come OTAs: Examining Ryan Pace’s first Bears roster

Bears GM Ryan Pace and coach John Fox have plenty to look at OTAs. (AP)

The Bears obviously erred in their evaluation of defensive end Ray McDonald, and general manager Ryan Pace’s first 90-man roster quickly got whittled to 89.

But the Bears will forge on. Pace’s evaluations will continue. And the first roster he has constructed will get a good look starting Wednesday during the first day of organized team activities.


Roster (5): Jay Cutler, Jimmy Clausen, David Fales, Shane Carden, Patrick Devlin.

Hot topics: The Bears’ belief in Clausen shouldn’t be discounted, but Cutler remains the Bears’ best option under center. He has a connection with offensive coordinator Adam Gase that dates to his draft year. “I feel comfortable with him,” Gase said.

Keep an eye on: The battle between Fales and Carden. Pace is high on Carden, an undrafted rookie. Fales was a sixth-round pick in 2014 from the old regime.

Running back

Roster (5): Matt Forte, Ka’Deem Carey, Jeremy Langford, Senorise Perry, Jacquizz Rodgers.

Hot topics: Forte has promised to take part in OTAs after skipping voluntary minicamp and other workouts to focus on his speed training. He’s in the last year of his deal and wants an extension, but Pace and coach John Fox want to see him on the field in Gase’s new offense first. Forte will be the best back Fox and Gase have worked with in their careers.

Keep an eye on: The development of Carey. Pace considered running back a draft need and selected Langford in the fourth round. He also has made little mention of Carey.

Wide receiver

Roster (10): Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal, Kevin White, Marquess Wilson, Josh Bellamy, Marc Mariani, John Chiles, Rashad Lawrence, Cameron Meredith, Levi Norwood.

Hot topics: Brandon Marshall is gone, but Cutler still has a good group of pass-catchers minus the attitude. Royal, White and even Wilson could complement Jeffery well in Gase’s offense, which might resemble the Broncos’ approach in some ways. White has star written all over him.

Keep an eye on: Jeffery’s state of mind. The talented receiver isn’t making a fuss about not having an extension, preferring to take part in all the voluntary training. He’s determined to prove his value on the field.

Tight end

Roster (8): Martellus Bennett, Dante Rosario, Zach Miller, Blake Annen, Bear Pascoe, Jacob Maxwell, Brian Vogler, Chris Pantale.

Hot topics: What will Bennett do? He has two years left on his contract but is looking for a new deal and decided to skip all prior voluntary work under Fox this offseason. The Bears don’t have much behind Bennett on the depth chart and haven’t hidden their displeasure with him.

Keep an eye on: Miller’s health and playmaking abilities. He was a star in last year’s training camp and preseason, but a foot injury put him on injured reserve. Still, he must’ve done something to impress Pace because he got a one-year extension in February.

Offensive line

Roster (15): Kyle Long, Jermon Bushrod, Matt Slauson, Jordan Mills, Will Montgomery, Michael Ola, Vladimir Ducasse, Charles Leno Jr., Hroniss Grasu, Tayo Fabuluje, Connor Boffeli, Ryan Groy, Chad Hamilton, Cameron Jefferson, Jason Weaver.

Hot topics: The Bears cut longtime starter Roberto Garza and created a competition between free-agent signee Montgomery and third-round pick Grasu (a friend of Long’s from Oregon). Mills’ struggles no longer will be tolerated at right tackle, but a player needs to emerge and push him.

Keep an eye on: Where Long works. He’s a Pro Bowl guard and only getting better. But offensive line coach Dave Magazu won’t rule out a switch to tackle.

Defensive line

Roster (9): Jeremiah Ratliff, Jarvis Jenkins, Ego Ferguson, Will Sutton, Eddie Goldman, Brandon Dunn, Olsen Pierre, Cornelius Washington, Terry Williams.

Hot topics: It might have left the team thin at end, but the Bears did the right thing by cutting McDonald after his latest arrest. His on-the-field value, as marginal as it was to begin with for a rebuilding team, wasn’t worth the trouble. So, now what? Ferguson and Sutton need to show their value, and Goldman needs to make the most of any extra opportunities. Ratliff, who’ll turn 34 in August, needs the help.

Keep an eye on: Sutton’s ability to fit in. The 2014 third-round pick is considered a bubble player who is best suited at three-technique in a 4-3 defense. But defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said the techniques are similar in his version of the 3-4.

Outside linebacker

Roster (8): Pernell McPhee, Lamarr Houston, Jared Allen, Willie Young, Sam Acho, David Bass, Jamil Merrell, Kyle Woestmann.

Hot topics: Fangio said Allen, 33, can “have a rebirth to his career playing a little bit of a new position.’’ It will be interesting to see what Houston (torn anterior cruciate ligament) and Young (torn Achilles) are able to do after their serious injuries. Houston previously played linebacker for the Raiders and thinks he’s in a better spot for success this season.

Keep an eye on: Bass’ comfort level on the edge. He was drafted as an outside linebacker by the Raiders in 2013.

Inside linebacker

Roster (8): Shea McClellin, Jon Bostic, Mason Foster, Christian Jones, DeDe Lattimore, John Timu, Jonathan Brown, Jonathan Anderson.

Hot topics: McClellin has big fans in Fox and Fangio, but the 2012 first-rounder has plenty to prove regardless of their confidence in him, and he knows it. Foster said the Bears’ 3-4 defense fits him better after playing for Lovie Smith and the Buccaneers last season. Fangio also has spoken very highly of Jones.

Keep an eye on: Bostic’s ability to win over the new staff. Unlike McClellin and Jones, Bostic, the 50th overall selection in 2013, hasn’t been highlighted by his new coaches in the same fashion. A nagging back injury kept Bostic out of voluntary minicamp.


Roster (10): Kyle Fuller, Tim Jennings, Alan Ball, Demontre Hurst, Al Louis-Jean, Sherrick McManis, Terrance Mitchell, Qumain Black, Bryce Callahan, Jacoby Glenn.

Hot topics: Fuller is viewed as a centerpiece for the Bears’ defensive revival. The others? New contracts for Hurst and Louis-Jean help their causes. But Ball only got a one-year deal, and the Bears still have to figure out where Jennings fits best.

Keep an eye on: Jennings’ bounce-back ability. The 2014 season was a bad one for the former Pro Bowl player. He has to re-establish himself under a new regime.


Roster (6): Antrel Rolle, Ryan Mundy, Brock Vereen, Adrian Amos, Malcolm Bronson, Anthony Jefferson.

Hot topics: Rolle should give the secondary some extra oomph. The starting spot next to him looks open, though. Mundy will be the player to beat. He’s a capable veteran and has experience playing with Rolle.

Keep an eye on: The competition between Amos and Vereen. Last year, Vereen played in place of Mundy because of his coverage skills. But Amos is valued for the same. Plus, Amos’ size and speed stand out. He’s also a willing tackler.


Roster (5): Robbie Gould (kicker), Patrick O’Donnell (punter), Thomas Gafford (long snapper), Rick Lovato (long snapper), Jeremiah Detmer (kicker).

Hot topics: Replacing longtime long snapper Patrick Mannelly enters Year 2. It’s now a competition between Gafford, an eight-year veteran, and Lovato, an undrafted rookie.

Keep an eye on: Gould’s health. He missed the last four games last season with a quadriceps injury.


Twitter: @adamjahns

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