Who are the Chicago Bears’ risers and fallers after the preseason opener? August 16 is cutdown day around the NFL. The Bears will have to trim their roster down from 90 to 85. This is a standard process of the offseason. But there are a couple of extenuating circumstances that add more complexity for the Bears than many teams including a first-time general manager and head coach.
How many of the cutdowns will be from some of the few remaining holdover pieces after so much turnover to bring in their guys? Even more important, which players have made themselves indispensable at this point?
The Bears also have injuries at a couple of key positions on offense along the offensive line and in the wide receiving corps.
5 Chicago Bears Risers and Fallers After the Preseason Opener
Riser – Jack Sanborn – LB
It did not take long for local-product Jack Sanborn to endear himself to the Soldier Field crowd. The undrafted free agent finished the preseason opener with seven total tackles, one interception, one fumble recovery, and one pass deflection. He was flying around on defense and special teams.
.@JackSanborn79 with the INT 😤
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 13, 2022
There are several players ahead of him on the depth chart. But Sanborn’s instincts and nose for the ball are marketable to a new coaching staff looking to build a culture. In a town that has an affinity for playmaking linebackers, Sanborn already has a leg up. It will be interesting to see what he can do as he gets even more acclimated to the speed of the game.
Faller – Nsimba Webster – WR
Fourth-year wide receiver Nsimba Webster is our first conundrum. After beginning his career with the Los Angeles Rams, Webster signed with the Bears last season appearing in six games returning four punts for 13 total yards. Webster did catch one of his two targets for 14 yards. But he has yet to catch a pass in a regular season game in his career.
Nsimba Webster had a couple nice catches in 1 on 1 but a bad drop in Team. He’s quick but needs to be more consistent if he wants a chance to make the roster. #BearsCamp
— Clay Harbor (@clayharbs82) August 10, 2022
His best chance at sticking around is as a special teamer and, primarily, a returner. But the Bears have several capable options including rookie third-round pick, Velus Jones. Jones, however, is one of several Bears nursing injuries. That could afford Webster more time. Dazz Newsome muffed his lone return but also caught a 13-yard touchdown so he probably sticks.
Riser – Tajae Sharpe
One of the players making life difficult for Webster in terms of avoiding cutdowns is sixth-year man, Tajae Sharpe. The former Tennesee Titans draftee spent time with the Atlanta Falcons and the division-rival Minnesota Vikings before joining the Bears right before training camp. Since then, all he has done is make the most of his opportunities.
Another look at that Tajae Sharpe catch and it's even more absurd. #DaBears
— NFL (@NFL) August 13, 2022
Sharpe caught two passes for 44 total yards including that highlight-reel 25-yarder. After the game, Justin Fields spoke glowingly about Sharpe’s ability to create separation and his hands. Sharpe also received compliments from his head coach for stepping up in the wake of all the injuries the wide receiver corps has taken.
Faller – Michael Schofield
Listen, Chris Jones is one of the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL. So much so that he has tried his hand on the outside and had success there as well. So to see him bowl over Michael Schofield is not that big a surprise. He’s done it to plenty of opponents before and will go on to do it to more.
Michael Schofield with a not so good rep against Chris Jones (Again, Jones is really good). I said it in my breakdown of him he needs to win with his hands early in the rep. If he doesn't he can get overpowered. Also, check out Braxton Jones locking down Frank Clark 1-on-1 #Bears pic.twitter.com/tMDS8PVxII
— Chicago Football Connection (@CFCBears) August 13, 2022
Still, with hopes he would help stabilize the offensive line – one that has already lost its starting center until at least the opener – getting bulldozed as he did on the opening drive was disheartening. One preseason rep does not make a full campaign, though. So Schofield should get another shot. He might fare better with Riley Reiff who missed this contest next to him.
Riser – Teven Jenkins
Larry Borom got the start at right tackle in Reiff’s absence. And he stayed in when the second unit came in. But former second-round pick Teven Jenkins came in with the reserves and acquitted himself quite nicely. It will be interesting to see if he can begin to push Borom and maybe even Reiff for the starting job.
Jenkins has also said he is open to a position change if that is what the coaching staff wants. He is arguably the most talented option out of the group and has long been figured a better fit on the right side or inside. It’s just one game for all parties involved. But nothing that happened on Saturday would suggest that Jenkins should be out of the mix.
Bears Risers and Fallers
The Bears have two more games this preseason and both come on the road beginning with the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday, August 18. They then wrap the exhibition period at the Cleveland Browns on August 27. That is not a lot of time to choose between so many new faces on this roster. Many of the players listed here could find themselves on the other end when all is said and done. The good part about so much competition is that it will truly be a “best-player-wins” situation.
Even in a rebuild like the Bears are in, trying to find useful players at a bargain is always a pivotal part of building a successful roster.
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