Bears roster projection: Let the competition commence

Bears roster projection: Let the competition commence
May 24, 2014, 9:45 pm
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It's Memorial Day weekend, but I'm already looking at Labor Day weekend. After just getting out of that brutal winter, shame on me for these momentary thoughts that skip summer. But with most of Phil Emery's heavy roster reconstruction finished, I started looking ahead towards Sunday, Sept. 7, like any geek.

Every roster has its locks, but the Organized Team Activities that begin this week are opportunities for veteran reserves and rookies to begin making their cases for the decision-makers. I came up with 57, four over the final Opening Day limit. The general manager might make another veteran addition or two after June 1 and during the course of the preseason. I also did not take into account salary-cap ramifications (hey, it's a holiday weekend). Unfortunately, injuries will happen in training camp, too. So as the roster stands now, here's what I have:

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Quarterbacks (3): Jay Cutler, Jordan Palmer, David Fales

Running backs (4): Matt Forte, Ka'Deem Carey, Michael Ford, Jordan Lynch (who's battling the bubble)

Full backs (1): Tony Fiammetta

Tight ends (3): Martellus Bennett, Dante Rosario, either Fendi Onobun or Matthew Mulligan

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Wide receivers (6): Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Marquess Wilson, Domenik Hixon, two of three from among Josh Morgan, Eric Weems and Chris Williams

Offensive tackles (3): Jermon Bushrod, Jordan Mills, Eben Britton

Centers (2): Roberto Garza, Brian DeLaPuente (who can back up at guard)

Guards (2): Kyle Long, Matt Slauson (eighth offensive line spot open for where they need the most depth from among guard James Brown and tackles Joe Long and Charles Leno, Jr.)

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Defensive ends (5): Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young, Israel Idonije, David Bass

Defensive tackles (5): Jeremiah Ratliff, Stephen Paea, Nate Collins, Ego Ferguson, Will Sutton

Linebackers (7): Lance Briggs, D.J. Wiliams, Jon Bostic, Shea McClellin, Jordan Senn, Khaseem Greene, Christian Jones

Cornerbacks (6): Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings, Kyle Fuller, Kelvin Hayden, Isaiah Frey, Sherrick McManis

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Safeties (6): Ryan Mundy, Brock Vereen, Chris Conte, M.D. Jennings, Craig Steltz, Danny McCray

Punter (1): Pat O'Donnell

Kicker (1): Robbie Gould

Long snapper (1): Patrick Mannelly (or successor if his health forces him to retire)

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So there are my thoughts on the most likely 57 before the final four difficult cuts, if this group made it through training camp and four preseason games healthy. But as I said, there will be injuries and additions affecting the numbers game. I could see either five cornerbacks (McManis versus Frey) and/or five safeties (Steltz versus McCray). It could come down to Jones versus Greene if it's just six linebackers. Bass had a much more productive rookie season than last year's sixth-round pick, Cornelius Washington, but will need to continue to show improvement. Perhaps they wind up keeping just five wideouts, and Lynch will have to win some hearts to make it. There's no doubt his effort and commitment will be there.

Obviously, much will depend on whom can provide what on special teams, especially as they seek a new returner with the departure of Devin Hester.

Just a little at-first-glance holiday weekend roster fun before OTA's begin Tuesday at Halas Hall.

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