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Who makes the team? Handicapping the Bears’ roster on the eve of training camp

Matt Nagy will have plenty of time to sort through his first preseason and, along with general manager Ryan Pace, pick his first roster. When the Bears report to training camp Thursday in Bourbonnais, it will start a 45-day window in which the team must whittle its roster from 90 players to 53 by the NFL’s cutdown day Sept. 1. The extra week of training camp comes with a fifth preseason game, the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 2 against the Ravens.

Below, we handicap the Bears’ 53-man roster:



Bears receiver Kevin White is entering the final year of his rookie deal. (AP)

They’ll likely keep: 3.

They’re in: Mitch Trubisky, Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray.

They’re out: None.

Battle to watch: Trubisky vs. the playbook. Daniel and Bray were signed to help the second-year quarterback digest Nagy’s offense. The Bears have been impressed with the results so far.

The big number: 3 — Nagy’s Chiefs kept three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster last year.

He said it: “I just feel like I know what to expect more on a day-to-day basis — what I need to do, how I can make my teammates’ job easier — and just continue to set goals.” — Trubisky

Running backs

They’ll likely keep: 4.

They’re in: Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, Benny Cunningham.

They’re on the bubble: Taquan Mizzell, fullback Michael Burton.

They’re out: Ryan Nall.

Battle to watch: Cohen vs. receiver. If the Bears fall in love with splitting Cohen wide, could they keep an extra running back?

The big number: 528 — Rushes by Howard the last two seasons, fifth-most in the NFL.

He said it: “You can put [Cohen] in a lot of different places, that’s obvious. But you need to balance that. You need to make sure that you’re not doing too much to where you slow him down because he’s not thinking.” — Nagy

Wide receivers

They’ll likely keep: 6.

They’re in: Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, Kevin White.

They’re on the bubble: Josh Bellamy, Bennie Fowler, Marlon Brown, Tanner Gentry, Javon Wims.

They’re out: DeMarcus Ayers, Matt Fleming, Garrett Johnson.

Battle to watch: Bears vs. the training room. Robinson enters camp having not yet practiced in full since tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament in the season opener last year. White has finished three NFL games in three years. Injury concerns at receiver spoiled previous training camps; will it happen again?

The big number: $2.69 million —White’s guaranteed salary, making his roster spot seem safe.

He said it: “The thing that he brings to this team is his dominating factor, going up and getting balls and being the receiver that can take the toll of being a 10-catch-a-game receiver. That’s one thing we will need going into the season.” — Gabriel, on Robinson

Tight ends

They’ll likely keep: 4.

They’re in: Trey Burton, Dion Sims, Adam Shaheen.

They’re on the bubble: Daniel Brown, Ben Braunecker.

They’re out: Zach Miller, Colin Thompson.

Battle to watch: The fourth tight end. Brown and Braunecker, who played 43 and 35 percent of the Bears’ special-teams snaps last year, respectively, will fight for a job on kicks.

The big number: 122 — Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce’s league-leading targets in Nagy’s offense last year, tops among NFL tight ends.

He said it: “Route running. And his hands. And his understanding of getting himself open. That is what he brings to the table, as far as his No. 1 quality. But he’s got some toughness to him, too.” — tight ends coach Kevin Gilbride Jr., on Burton’s skills

Offensive line

They’ll likely keep: 8.

They’re in: Cody Whitehair, Kyle Long, Charles Leno Jr., Bobby Massie, James Daniels.

They’re on the bubble: Bradley Sowell, Eric Kush, Earl Watford, Jordan Morgan.

They’re out: Hroniss Grasu, Matt McCants, Jeremi Hall, Will Pericak, Brandon Greene, Dejon Allen, Rashaad Coward.

Battle to watch: Starting left guard. The Bears would be thrilled if Daniels, their second-round pick, forced his way into the starting lineup. Then they’d have to decide whether to swap him with center Whitehair.

The big number: 15 — Starts Long has missed because of injury the last two seasons, after he sat out once in his first three. Long had three surgeries this offseason, but the Bears expect him back for camp.

He said it: “The thing you can’t do is, you can’t make judgments on offensive linemen in shorts. That never works.” — offensive line coach Harry Hiestand


Defensive line

They’ll likely keep: 5.

They’re in: Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Roy Robertson-Harris, Jonathan Bullard, Bilal Nichols.

They’re on the bubble: John Jenkins.

They’re out: Cavon Walker, Bunmi Rotimi, Nick Williams, Abdullah Anderson.

Battle to watch: Bullard vs. Robertson-Harris at starting defensive end. Bullard played twice as many defensive snaps in 2017.

The big number: 899 — Snaps Hicks played in 2017. The only four defensive linemen to play more are former Pro Bowl players: Jason Pierre-Paul, Cameron Jordan, Michael Bennett and Khalil Mack.

He said it: “I think our overall defensive front is, we’re more jelled. We know what we’re good at.” — Hicks

Outside linebackers

They’ll likely keep: 4.

They’re in: Leonard Floyd, Sam Acho, Aaron Lynch, Kylie Fitts.

They’re on the bubble: Isaiah Irving, Kasim Edebali.

They’re out: Andrew Trumbetti, Elijah Norris.

Battle to watch: Floyd vs. the training room. His recovery from a knee injury is critical after the Bears failed to add significant depth.

The big number: 10 — Sacks, in 22 combined games, by since-departed veterans Willie Young, Lamarr Houston and Pernell McPhee last year.

He said it: “Now it’s my turn to step up and be the leader of the room.” — Floyd

Inside linebackers

They’ll likely keep: 5.

They’re in: Danny Trevathan, Roquan Smith, Nick Kwiatkoski, Joel Iyiegbuniwe.

They’re on the bubble: John Timu, Jonathan Anderson.

They’re out: Josh Woods.

Battle to watch: Smith vs. expectations. A franchise known for its inside linebackers made Smith its highest-drafted one in 44 years.

The big number: 20 — Games played, out of a possible 36, by Trevathan in his two Bears seasons.

He said it: “He has his head on right. Now we just have to pull him into what we’re doing within our scheme.” — inside linebackers coach Glenn Pires, on Smith


They’ll likely keep: 7.

They’re in: Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara.

They’re on the bubble: Bryce Callahan, Sherrick McManis, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Marcus Cooper, Michael Joseph, Kevin Toliver, Jonathon Mincy.

They’re out: Doran Grant, John Franklin III, Rashard Fant.

Battle to watch: Slot corner. Callahan has the edge, having started 16 times in the last two years combined.

The big number: $36 million — Guaranteed money the Bears gave Fuller and Amukamara to return.

He said it: “There weren’t a lot of corners that put up that kind of hitting and tackling that he put up. His value was respected around the league.” — defensive backs coach Ed Donatell, on Fuller


They’ll likely keep: 4.

They’re in: Adrian Amos, Eddie Jackson.

They’re on the bubble: Deon Bush, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Deiondre’ Hall.

They’re out: Nick Orr.

Battle to watch: Amos vs. pressure. The Bears could give Amos a contract extension before the opener. What happens if they don’t?

The big number: 2 — Amos allowed 7.1 yards per reception, according to Pro Football Focus, the second-best figure among NFL safeties.

He said it: “I expect ball production.” — Donatell


They’ll likely keep: 3.

They’re in: Kicker Cody Parkey, punter Pat O’Donnell, long snapper Patrick Scales.

They’re out: P Ryan Winslow.

Battle to watch: O’Donnell vs. all comers. He got only a one-year deal with $500,000 guaranteed in March — not a huge vote of confidence.

The big number: $9 million — Guaranteed money in Parkey’s four-year deal.

He said it: “Obviously, you value a lot of things — the leg strength, switching the field, ball placement, getting the ball out on time, eliminating returners.” — Special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor, on the punter battle