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Handicapping the Bears’ 53-man roster with cuts looming

We sorted through who played — and, more importantly, who didn’t — for the last 53-man roster projection of the preseason:

Bears quarterback Tyler Bray and tight end Jesper Horsted celebrate a first-half touchdown Thursday.
AP Photos

Five weeks to the day after they reported to training camp, the Bears’ backups had their last chance to make an impression, and the team, Thursday night against the Titans.

We sorted through who played — and, more importantly, who didn’t — for the last 53-man roster projection of the preseason:

OFFENSE

Quarterback

They’ll likely keep: 2

They made the team: Mitch Trubisky, Chase Daniel

We learned this week: Coach Matt Nagy believes in Daniel despite an uneven exhibition slate.

“It’s not an easy deal that he gets put into every preseason,” he said. “That’s part of being a backup. You’re the favorite when you get put in in some situations during the season, but in these situations everyone expects you to be the best ever. For me, he’s a coach out there on the field.”

Unfinished business: The Bears figure to try to get third-stringer Tyler Bray back onto their practice squad Sunday.

Running back

They’ll likely keep: 4

They made the team: Tarik Cohen, David Montgomery, Mike Davis

We learned this week: Nagy likes Ryan Nall’s unique physical style, but the speedy Kerrith Whyte has the edge. Nall had 10 carries Thursday, Whyte only two. That’s a good sign for the rookie seventh-round pick.

Unfinished business: If the Bears cut Nall, they’ll try to get him back onto the practice squad.

Wide receiver

They’ll likely keep: 7

They made the team: Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, Cordarrelle Patterson, Javon Wims, Riley Ridley

We learned this week: Wims made the team. The Bears’ seventh-round pick a year ago, Wims caught all four of his 2018 passes in the ultimately meaningless season finale. His performance this summer earned him a spot on the Bears’ bench Thursday, a sure sign he has made the squad. Receiver Marvin Hall did not play, either; he hinted afterward that he’d made the team.

Unfinished business: The Bears loved their receiver depth this preseason. They will try to get one of their young players —Jordan Williams-Lambert and Thomas Ives have looked good — onto the practice squad.

Tight end

They’ll likely keep: 4

They made the team: Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen, Ben Braunecker

We learned this week: Nagy said he considers Bradley Sowell, the tackle-turned-blocking tight end, “a developmental guy” and said he needs to stay patient with him. That doesn’t sound like something he’d say about a player he was about to cut.

Unfinished business: They like Ian Bunting and Dax Raymond – and fellow undrafted rookie Jesper Horsted has been maybe the team’s best pass-catcher the last two games. Fate might have intervened Thursday, when Raymond was concussed. Watch for any of the three on the practice squad.

Offensive line

They’ll likely keep: 8

They made the team: Charles Leno, Cody Whitehair, James Daniels, Kyle Long, Bobby Massie, Ted Larsen

We learned this week: Alex Bars improved his odds of making the team. The rookie guard from Notre Dame started at left tackle Thursday, adding versatility to his promising profile.

Unfinished business: Even before tackle T.J. Clemmings was lost for the year with a quad injury, the Bears had more questions at offensive line than any other position group; Will tackle Rashaad Coward (elbow) land on injured reserve? Will the Bears claim a tackle on the waiver wire Sunday? Would they dare enter the season with Bars as their backup tackle?

DEFENSE

Defensive line

They’ll likely keep: 6

They made the team: Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Bilal Nichols, Roy Robertson-Harris

We learned this week: End Jonathan Bullard and nose tackle Nick Williams might have a better chance of making the roster than we first thought. While both were in uniform Thursday night, neither played.

Unfinished business: If the Bears only keep five linemen, Bullard could be in trouble.

Outside linebacker

They’ll likely keep: 4

They made the team: Khalil Mack, Leonard Floyd

We learned this week: Aaron Lynch could be on thin ice. Surprisingly, the veteran — considered to be the Bears’ top backup — played about 15 downs against the Titans. Nagy said he wanted to give Lynch some in-game experience to evaluate his conditioning, but it’s fair to wonder about his place on the team.

Unfinished business: Isaiah Irving figures to have the edge for the fourth spot. In a more fair world, though, Bears Preseason MVP James Vaughters — who had yet another sack in the first half Thursday — would get the edge. Kylie Fitts has struggled, too. Keep an eye on waivers Sunday.

Inside linebacker

They’ll likely keep: 5

They made the team: Danny Trevathan, Roquan Smith, Nick Kwiatkoski, Joel Iyiegbuniwe

We learned this week: Veteran Kevin Pierre-Louis could be safe, too. While the special teams specialist dressed for the preseason game, he didn’t play in the team’s base defense.

Unfinished business: Josh Woods, a converted college safety, has looked strong in his second year and could be destined for the practice squad.

Cornerback

They’ll likely keep: 5

They made the team: Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara, Buster Skrine, Duke Shelley

What we learned this week: The Bears are thin at outside cornerback, with Kevin Toliver, Clifton Duck and John Franklin III fighting at the edge of the roster.

Unfinished business: Seventh-round pick Stephen Denmark didn’t play a preseason down due to injuries. The Bears should use that as an excuse to put him on -injured reserve and give him a redshirt season.

Safety

They’ll likely keep: 5

They made the team: Eddie Jackson, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Deon Bush

What we learned this week: Special teams stalwarts Sherrick McManis and DeAndre Houston-Carson didn’t play, a sign that they could be saved for the regular season.

Unfinished business: We still haven’t seen Jackson and Clinton-Dix play side-by-side in a game. The two need to communicate well — but won’t get a chance to do it in a competitive situation until Week 1 against the Packers.

Specialists

They’ll likely keep: 3

They made the team: P Pat O’Donnell, LS Patrick Scales

What we learned this week: That the Bears were confident in Eddy Pineiro — who then missed his first kick against the Titans, a 33-yard extra point.

Unfinished business: Nagy sounded like Pineiro could stick — ”I want to see a great success story with this kid,” he said — but the kicker might only be as safe as the Bears’ options the next three days.