At least once a day during training camp, Bears coach Matt Nagy will walk into general manager Ryan Pace’s office and stare at the depth-chart board on the wall.
“It’s a good feeling when you know you have some guys that, unfortunately, you’re going to have to cut that could make your roster,” Nagy said Tuesday.
It has to happen by the league’s new deadline — Tuesday at 3 p.m. — to whittle rosters from 80 players to 53. The date is four days earlier than recent years as a result of a restructured offseason.
The Bears’ roster is mostly set, though they’ll evaluate some of the final cut candidates in the exhibition finale Saturday against the Titans. Here’s how we project their roster to shake out:
OFFENSE (25 players)
Starting: Andy Dalton
Making the team: Justin Fields, Nick Foles
Biggest camp development: Fields is ahead of schedule and will push Dalton for the starting job sooner than the Bears first believed. Foles’ impassioned speech at the start of camp didn’t drum up interest from teams looking to trade for a quarterback, though the Bears would still like to move him.
He said it: “We’ve talked about that process and the one thing that I’ll say about Justin is he completely understands it. … The support that he has in this plan, the support that he has for Andy, is pretty neat.” — Nagy
Starting: David Montgomery
Making the team: Damien Williams, Khalil Herbert, Ryan Nall, Tarik Cohen*
Outside looking in: Artavis Pierce
Biggest camp development: After starting camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list, Cohen still doesn’t seem close to returning to game action after having October knee surgery. If the Bears start the regular season with him on PUP — and that’s the bet here — he’ll have to sit out six weeks.
He said it: “[Montgomery] runs with a chip on his shoulder. I want to ask him, like, ‘What have you got going on personally you know, that makes you run like this?’” — Williams
Starting: Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney
Making the team: Damiere Byrd, Marquise Goodwin, Dazz Newsome, Rodney Adams
Outside looking in: Javon Wims, Riley Ridley, Jon’Vea Johnson, Isaiah Coulter, Chris Lacy
Biggest camp development: Veterans Wims and Ridley haven’t flashed, but Adams has. Adams’ 146 receiving yards ranks second in the NFL through two preseason games.
He said it: “His skillsets are starting to show..” — receivers coach Mike Furrey, on Adams
Starting: Cole Kmet
Making the team: Jimmy Graham, Jesse James
Outside looking in: J.P. Holtz, Jesper Horsted, Scooter Harrington
Biggest camp development: Signed on the eve of camp, James has produced all preseason long; only two tight ends in the NFL have more receiving yards than his 92. Holtz’s versatility makes him a likely practice squad player if the Bears cut him.
He said it: “I like his size. I like his hands. And he’s a smart guy. … He definitely knows what he’s doing out there.” — Fields, on James
Starting: Jason Peters, Cody Whitehair, Sam Mustipher, James Daniels, Germain Ifedi
Making the team: Elijah Wilkinson, Alex Bars, Larry Borom, Teven Jenkins
Outside looking in: Lachavious Simmons, Arlington Hambright, Dieter Eiselen, Adam Redmond, Tyrone Wheatley Jr.
Biggest camp development: The Bears scrambled for a left tackle before signing the 39-year-old Peters, a future Hall of Famer, with hopes he’ll stay healthy. Jenkins, who had back surgery last week, must start the season on the 53-man roster to be eligible to return from injured reserve later this season.
He said it: “The camaraderie and the chemistry are going to come because… I’m not holding his hand, I’m blocking my guy.” — Peters, on helping teammates
DEFENSE (25 players)
Starting: Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Bilal Nichols
Making the team: Angelo Blackson, Khyiris Tonga, Mario Edwards*
Outside looking in: LaCale London, Daniel Archibong
Biggest camp development: Hicks, who has refused interviews all camp, is entering the final year of his contract and wants a new deal. Edwards is suspended for the first two games because of a performance-enhancing drug violation and doesn’t count against the 53-man roster.
He said it: “Tonga is everything I love about a player. He’s tough, he’s physical. He wants to learn, he’s eager to learn.” — Nichols
Starting: Roquan Smith, Danny Trevathan
Making the team: Alec Ogletree, Christian Jones, Joel Iyiegbuniwe, Josh Woods
Outside looking in: Caleb Johnson
Biggest camp development: A free agent when camp began, Ogletree has played well enough to make the team and be its best insurance policy against Trevathan or Smith going down during the season.
He said it: “”Depending on where Danny is — status-wise, health-wise, etc. —we feel good with the way that ‘Tree’s played.” — Nagy
Starting: Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn
Making the team: Jeremiah Attaochu, Trevis Gipson,
Outside looking in: James Vaughters, Charles Snowden, Sam Kamara
Biggest camp development: The Bears have been cautious with Quinn’s back dating to the spring, and he missed time after hurting his ankle against the Dolphins. But he’s looked good when he’s been on the field one year after totaling only two sacks.
He said it: “[Quinn] has a certain expectation for himself and he’s got high goals. And for him, he didn’t find last season acceptable.” — outside linebackers coach Bill Shuey
Starting: Jaylon Johnson, Kindle Vildor
Making the team: Duke Shelley, Thomas Graham Jr., Desmond Trufant, Artie Burns
Outside looking in: Tre Roberson, Xavier Crawford
Biggest camp development: Vildor and the Trufant are rotating snaps in the only open starting job on the team, but there’s a complicating factor. Trufant has been gone the past week because of the death of his father, whose funeral was Wednesday.
“I know it’s been difficult for him,” Nagy said. “He wants to be here … We all support him with that. I just think that the one thing that he has is, he has that experience, and we know that.”
He said it: “Obviously we’ve been rotating pretty much the whole camp and everything like that, so I know nothing’s gonna be given to me.” — Vildor
Starting: Eddie Jackson, Tashaun Gipson
Making the team: Deon Bush, DeAndre Houston-Carson
Outside looking in: Marqui Christian, Teez Tabor
Biggest camp development: Jackson [hamstring] didn’t practice for the first time until Aug. 10 and Gipson [groin] missed two weeks. Both are back, though, and played 33 snaps side-by-side in Saturday’s preseason loss. Christian has been impressive in camp and has a chance to stick.
He said it: “[I want to] just be real thoughtful about where [Jackson] is on the field, be real thoughtful about how people are trying to attack us on defense. And try to get him in some spots where he can use his skills to the best of his ability.” — defensive coordinator Sean Desai
SPECIAL TEAMS (3 players)
Starting: K Cairo Santos, P Pat O’Donnell, LS Patrick Scales
Outside looking in: K Brian Johnson
Biggest camp development: Johnson has made both his exhibition game field goal tries, including a 54-yarder. He’ll be cut unless the Bears are motivated to keep a practice squad kicker in case of a coronavirus outbreak.
He said it: “Having another guy here saves me a little bit of my leg, him getting reps. But I know that every rep that I get, I make it count.” — Santos