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Bears camp: Who makes the roster?

With cuts looming Saturday, here’s a look at whom the Bears will keep, stash and cut:

Bears defenders warm up Wednesday.
AP Photos

The NFL’s cuts, which are due by 3 p.m. Saturday, will be different than any in league history.

Teams will, as always, be able to keep 53 players on the active roster. As a hedge against the ravages of the coronavirus, teams for the first time will be able to stash 16 more players on the practice squad — provided they’re not picked up by other clubs first.

And even that would be a crapshoot. With no preseason games this year, player acquisition will be based on old film, scouting reports and a hunch.

With Saturday looming, here’s a look at whom the Bears will keep, stash and cut:

OFFENSE (26 players kept)

Quarterbacks

They’ll likely keep: 2.

They’re in: Mitch Trubisky, Nick Foles.

They’re on the practice squad: Tyler Bray.

How they’ve looked: Underwhelming. Neither Trubisky nor Foles has run away with the starting job, but each has one week left to try to make an impression. The Bears clearly would have preferred that one make the decision easy on them.

The question left to answer: The most important question the Bears will face all year: Who’s the starting quarterback?

Running backs

They’ll likely keep: 5.

They’re in: David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen, Cordarrelle Patterson, Ryan Nall, Artavis Pierce.

They’re on the practice squad: Napoleon Maxwell.

How they’ve looked: Out of sorts. With Montgomery out two to four weeks with a groin injury, the Bears’ other complementary pieces — Cohen and Patterson, whom we’re calling a running back for this exercise — will have to take on a larger role.

The question left to answer: Will the Bears be tempted by a free-agent running back — cough, Leonard Fournette, cough — even for a few weeks?

Wide receivers

They’ll likely keep: 6.

They’re in: Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, Ted Ginn, Darnell Mooney, Riley Ridley, Javon Wims.

They’re on the practice squad: Reggie Davis, Thomas Ives.

They’re out: Rodney Adams, Ahmad Wagner, Alex Wesley.

How they’ve looked: Incomplete. Robinson’s ankle injury last week exposed the Bears’ lack of depth at outside receiver — and reinforced the belief that they need to hand him a contract extension before the season opener.

The question left to answer: What does Ginn have left? In 2017, he caught 53 balls for 787 yards. After an injury-riddled 2018, he caught 30 balls for 421 yards last year. The Bears need him to be far closer to the 2017 version of himself.

Tight ends

They’ll likely keep: 5.

They’re in: Jimmy Graham, Cole Kmet, Demetrius Harris, J.P. Holtz, Eric Saubert.

They’re on the practice squad: Jesper Horsted.

How they’ve looked: Healthy. The Bears won’t take that for granted after Trey Burton’s injury muddled the position last season.

The question left to answer: Can Kmet adjust to the NFL on the fly? In-line tight end is a difficult position for rookies to learn — they have to master pass routes like receivers and blocking schemes like linemen — much less in a truncated preseason.

Offensive line

They’ll likely keep: 8.

They’re in: Charles Leno, James Daniels, Cody Whitehair, Germain Ifedi, Bobby Massie, Jason Spriggs, Rashaad Coward, Alex Bars.

They’re on the practice squad: Lachavious Simmons, Arlington Hambright, Corey Levin.

They’re out: Dieter Eiselen, Sam Mustipher, Badara Traore.

How they’ve looked: About the same. After all, four of the five starters from the disappointing 2019 unit will start again this season.

The question left to answer: How much impact will new offensive line coach Juan Castillo have? Coach Matt Nagy praises Castillo at every turn. If the unit improves, it will be in part because they have a new voice to listen to.

DEFENSE (24 players kept)

Defensive line

They’ll likely keep: 5.

They’re in: Akiem Hicks, Roy Robertson-Harris, Bilal Nichols, John Jenkins, Brent Urban.

They’re on the practice squad: Abdullah Anderson.

They’re out: Lee Autry, Trevon McSwain.

How they’ve looked: Thin. When nose tackle Eddie Goldman opted out, the Bears were optimistic they would be able to fill in for him. Hicks missing half the padded practices with a quad injury didn’t help matters.

The question left to answer: Will Hicks stay healthy? Perhaps some time without practicing is a blessing for Hicks, given how much time he missed last season. But he needs to ready by Week 1.

Outside linebackers

They’ll likely keep: 5.

They’re in: Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn, Barkevious Mingo, Isaiah Irving, Trevis Gipson.

They’re on the practice squad: James Vaughters, Ledarius Mack.

They’re out: LaCale London.

How they’ve looked: Motivated. Khalil Mack knows he and the Bears had a disappointing 2019.

The question left to answer: Is Quinn ready to go? A ‘‘personal issue’’ put him behind during the early part of training camp, and he didn’t participate in full team drills until the scrimmage Saturday. A player whose stated preference is to play in a 4-3 defense, not a 3-4, needs as many reps with his teammates as he can get.

Inside linebackers

They’ll likely keep: 4.

They’re in: Danny Trevathan, Roquan Smith, Joel Iyiegbuniwe, Josh Woods.

They’re on the practice squad: Rashad Smith.

They’re out: Keandre Jones.

How they’ve looked: Fast. Perhaps it’s a function of not having to play preseason games, but the Bears’ starters are flying around in practice.

The question left to answer: Is this the year Smith becomes a star? Or will he have his third bizarre season in a row after holding out as a rookie and being a late scratch because of personal reasons last year?

Cornerbacks

They’ll likely keep: 5.

They’re in: Kyle Fuller, Jaylon Johnson, Buster Skrine, Kevin Toliver, Kindle Vildor.

They’re on the practice squad: Duke Shelley, Stephen Denmark.

They’re out: Xavier Crawford.

How they’ve looked: Meh. Fuller has been a star in training camp, but Johnson’s recovery from shoulder surgery, Artie Burns’ season-ending knee injury and Toliver’s lackluster showing has muddied the starting question.

The question left to answer: Who starts outside in Week 1? The finalists seem to be Johnson and Skrine. If Skrine starts outside, he’ll bump inside to cover the slot in nickel coverage, with Johnson taking the field to play outside. And the Bears will play a lot of nickel coverage against the Lions.

Safeties

They’ll likely keep: 5.

They’re in: Eddie Jackson, Deon Bush, Tashaun Gipson, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Sherrick McManis.

They’re on the practice squad: Marqui Christian.

How they’ve looked: Ruthless. Jackson has been the best defensive player in camp, and Bush wants the world to know he intends on being a thumper. His tackle of tough guy Graham — and the scrap it started — wasn’t an accident.

The question left to answer: Who starts, Gipson or Bush? The Bears have to choose between the veteran ballhawk and the more physical Bush.

SPECIALISTS

They’ll likely keep: 3.

They’re in: P Pat O’Donnell, K Cairo Santos, LS Patrick Scales.

They’re on the practice squad: K Eddy Pineiro.

How they’ve looked: Fine, but that doesn’t mean anything. Santos being perfect during the Soldier Field scrimmage was the closest thing a Bears kicker has come to having to perform in a pressure situation.

The question left to answer: Will Pineiro be healthy by Sept. 13? A groin injury has sidelined him during camp. Still, the Bears plan to keep two kickers — with one on the practice squad — this season.