The Chicago Bears have to get their roster down to 75 players by the NFL's 75-man roster-limit deadline on Tuesday at 3 PM CT, and that means they only have one more player to cut, as they waived 14 players on Sunday to get the current roster at 76 players.

The players the Bears chose to cut on Sunday are wide receiver Devin Aromashodu, running back Curtis Brinkley, defensive tackle Eric Foster, offensive tackle A.J. Lindeman, center P.J. Lonergan, safety Derrick Martin, tight end Gabe Miller, defensive end Kyle Moore, tight end Leonard Pope, defensive tackle Brent Russell, linebacker Patrick Trahan, punter Tress Way, linebacker Lawrence Wilson, and safety Tom Zbikowski.

The headlining cuts (in my opinion, at least) are of Aromashodu, Moore, Pope, Trahan, and Zbikowski.

Aromashodu, 29, is a big receiver at 6'2", 209, and impressed for the Bears in the final four games of 2009, when he caught 22 passes for 282 yards and four touchdowns. But since, he's only caught 47 passes with one touchdown over the last three seasons, the last two of which were with the Minnesota Vikings. He'll likely be a part of a 53-man NFL roster this season, but there was no room for him on a Bears team that is actually loaded with quality wide receiver depth for once. When it comes to Aromashodu vs. Joe Anderson/Marquess Wilson/Eric Weems, Anderson excelled on special teams in late 2012 and has looked impressive in camp at wide receiver, Weems is a three-to-four phase contributor on special teams, and Wilson is a 2013 draft choice that has an exciting skillset and has shown it off in preseason.

Moore being cut so quickly was a bit of a surprise to me, as the 6'6", 263-pound veteran defensive end really played well on Friday against the Raiders. He also had three sacks last season for the Buffalo Bills, But, like Aromashodu, it was mainly a matter of quality depth at the position that resulted in Moore's release. Julius Peppers, Corey Wootton, and Shea McClellin are of course locks to make the team, rookie sixth-round pick Cornelius Washington was Pro Football Focus' highest-graded Bear vs the Raiders, and the team apparently holds 24-year-old Cheta Ozougwu in higher regard than Moore.

Pope's a veteran that has played games in all of the seven years he's been in the league, but the 6'8", 264-pound tight end doesn't seem to be more than a blocking tight end at this point in his career, and the Bears like Steve Maneri more as a blocking specialist. The No. 1 tight end is of course Martellus Bennett, while Kyle Adams and Fendi Onobun will likely be the No. 3 tight end.

At linebacker, Lance Briggs, Jon Bostic, James Anderson, D.J. Williams, Khaseem Greene, and Blake Costanzo will all likely make the team (it's a lock for at least four of those guys, anyway), so it was going to be hard for Trahan to make the team, even though he's been a valuable contributor on special teams. Don't be surprised if he finds his way back on to the Bears' roster again at some point in 2013.

Zbikowski is a 28-year-old safety that grew up in Illinois and played college football at Notre Dame. He started 12 games for the Colts in 2012, but was a pretty big disappointment in camp and the preseason games for the Bears. He looked lost in coverage at times. He has value on special teams, though, and is a decent kick returner, so his versatility should land him on another roster quickly.

The deadline to reach the 53-man roster is 5 PM CT on Saturday, two days after the Bears play the Cleveland Browns to conclude preseason their 2013 action.

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On Monday, I was a guest on the "Football Sickness podcast" with Ryan Burns (@FtblSickness) and Sen Sogah (@EastCoastDog) of FootballSickness.Com, to preview the Bears.

I hope you're already familiar with these guys and their podcast, but if you aren't, let me tell you that they do tremendous work. They have outstanding football discussion (they really know their football) and constantly have outstanding guests on their podcasts, so it's quite an honor they considered me worth their time to talk Bears football.

Ryan and Sen asked me a variety of questions, with topics including Marc Trestman/Lovie Smith, Brian Urlacher, Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery, Kyle Long, the offensive line in general, etc.

They also asked me to give my thoughts on how I think the Bears stack up in the NFC North and what would be considered a successful 2013 for the Bears. And after my portion of the podcast was over, the guys had some great Bears discussion of their own, so make sure to listen to that part as well.

I had a great time doing the podcast and hope you enjoy it. Make sure to check out their other team preview podcasts (if you're a big NFL fan and follow many NFL-related Twitter accounts, you'll likely be familiar with a lot of the guests), and give their subscription to their podcast on iTunes.

My 2013 Chicago Bears preview Football Sickness podcast

Subscribe to Football Sickness on iTunes

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We're now just two and a half weeks away from the Bears' regular season opener, September 8th against the Bengals at Soldier Field. And there's a lot going on in the world of the Chicago Bears as we approach week one, so let's get go to the links to get caught up on the latest Bears happenings...

Jon Bostic fined $21k for hit- Remember Jon Bostic's AWESOME hit last Thursday against the Chargers? You know, this one:



Well, the NFL has fined Bostic $21,000 for the hit:

Bears rookie linebacker Jon Bostic was fined $21,000 Wednesday for his hit on San Diego Chargers wide receiver Mike Willie. A source familiar with the situation confirmed the fine. The rule in question involved Bostic lowering his head and making forcible contact with a defenseless player's body, the source said. This wasn't a violation of the new "crown of the helmet rule," according to the source.

Absolutely ridiculous in my opinion, and by the reaction around the web/TV/radio today, it seems most everybody else shares the same opinion. Outside of the league offices, anyway. (ESPN Chicago)

Bears all agree- Bostic didn't deserve the fine- The Bears players and coaches voiced their displeasure about the Bostic fine. (670 The Score)

NFL's hypocrisy on Jon Bostic fine is nothing short of spectacular- Boomer from Bear Goggles On with a terrific response to the Bostic fine. (Bear Goggles On)

Brian Urlacher talks Bears on Fox Football Daily- I had on 'Fox Football Daily', the new NFL show on Fox Sports One, the new channel that launched this week. I have to say that so far, I'm a big fan of the show. And on Wednesday, Brian Urlacher (who serves as an analyst on the show) talked with Jay Glazer about some Bears-related things, and even about how angry he was with Lovie's firing. I tweeted most everything notable Urlacher said on the show, so check our timeline. (Our Twitter Account, @DaBearNecess)

'Encouraging' news for Bennett, Melton, Scott- The usual suspects sat out practice on Wednesday with injuries. The most notable of the guys I'm referring to are defensive tackle Henry Melton (concussion) linebacker D.J. Williams (calf), offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (right knee), wide receiver Earl Bennett (concussion), and (long, long-time) long-snapper Patrick Mannelly (ribs).

Melton and Bennett are still going through the league's concussion protocol, and here's what Trestman had to say about their status on Wednesday, according to Kevin Fishbain:

“The one thing that is encouraging both from Chris and our medical people is [Bennett and Melton] are both getting better and they are making progress,” he said. “We’ll see what happens down the road, and we’re going to try and be as upbeat as we can and stay encouraged that they’ll be ready to go.”

Hopefully Bennett and Melton will be ready for week one.

As for the other notable injured players, Mannelly is expected to be ready for week one, but the status is very much up in the air for Williams and Scott. Williams is about 10 days away or so from practicing according to Trestman, and even if he were ready to go in week one, it's hard to imagine he'd be the starter with how Jon Bostic's looking so far. And Bostic may have won the starting job regardless.

Scott's in competition for a roster spot, and if he were to prove healthy enough to make the team, you'd have to think J'Marcus Webb would be the odd man out. Trestman said this about Scott on Wednesday:

“We’re encouraged with that as well. He’s getting better everyday. We feel good enough that we’ll see him get a little more work over the next 10 days as we move forward,” Trestman said. “The best I’ve heard from Jonathan is that he’s back up, his knee is cleaned out and we’re encouraged that he’ll be working soon.” (HubArkush.Com)

Peppers expected to (really) play Friday- Bears defensive end Julius Peppers was expected to play last week against the Chargers, but the team chose to play it safe when Peppers didn't feel quite like himself after warmups. Well, this week, he's practiced everyday and feels good, and Trestman thinks Peppers will actually play this time (vs the Raiders). (670 The Score)

Rookie redemption for Phil Emery and Chicago Bears in 2013?- Our good buddy Matt Eurich explains how last year's draft class is looking quite bleak for Phil Emery, but the '13 class may be good enough to make up for it. (Chicago Bears Huddle)

Ditka watches Bears practice, speaks to team- DA COACH! (Chicago Bears)

Palmer, Edwards to handle all reps in finale- Jordan Palmer and Trent Edwards, two veteran quarterbacks the Bears signed in the last week, will be the only two quarterbacks to play in the finale. Keep Jay Cutler and Josh McCown healthy. However, I'm not sure McCown is even better than Edwards for sure, and that's not exactly an endorsement in McCown. (ESPN Chicago)

Bears sticking with rookies on right side- Kyle Long and Jordan Mills will stay as the starters on the right side of the line going into the week three preseason game, after they each impressed on Thursday.

In Long's case he was extremely impressive. So impressive, in fact, that Pro Football Focus has given Long the highest grade of any offensive lineman through two preseason games. Not bad for a guy with just a few college football games under his belt, eh?

Additionally, long-time respected NFL writer (and VP of Player Personnel for the Cowboys in the 29 years before that) Gil Brandt tweeted this on Monday:
Long has likely locked up the right guard job, but Mills is still fighting for the starting right tackle position. The fact he is even in this battle says a lot about how much he's impressed given that he was a fifth round draft pick this year. It also says a lot about how little J'Marcus Webb is impressing at right tackle.

But you'd have to like Mills' chances of being the starting right tackle in week one if he's starting the second and third preseason games and impressing the coaching staff.  (Chicago Tribune)

Forte endorses rookie right side of line- Matt Forte is liking the work on the right side of the offensive line from the rookies. Here's what he had to say about their performance against the Chargers:

"They did a great job," Forte said. "If we can get that push off the ball at the line of scrimmage, I can basically just use my vision in the zone blocking scheme and we'll be fine in the running game. They're doing a good job. I'm really impressed, especially by [sixth-round pick] Jordan [Mills]. I didn't even notice him in OTAs because we didn't have pads on. But he's stepped up during camp and has been doing a great job."  (ESPN Chicago)

Mills adjusting fast in big jump to the NFL- Adam Hoge with a nice read in regards to Jordan Mills. (670 The Score)

Pleased to meet you: Preseason week 3, Oakland Raiders- Steven Schweickert with a look at the Oakland Raiders, the Bears' opponent on Friday.

Matt Forte primed for best season yet- I completely agree with this take from Blake Van Poucke, and I said the same in a podcast with Football Sickness yesterday (look for that soon). (Chicago Bears Huddle)

Early returns on Hester are positive- (Finally) back in the returner-only role, Devin Hester is looking like his old self. (ESPN Chicago)

How confident are you in the Bears' offensive line? (Windy City Gridiron)

Mike Brown wishes Bears career could've been different- Good stuff from Tony Andracki on former Bears safety Mike Brown, who is definitely one of my favorite Bears of all-time. Damn injuries. (CSN Chicago)

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Chicago Bears star defensive tackle Henry Melton left the team's preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers on Friday night with a concussion:
The 6'3", 296-pound Melton was an NFC Pro Bowl selection in 2012, when he had 32 tackles, six sacks (third among NFL defensive tackles), and two forced fumbles in 14 games for the Bears.

On March 1st, the Bears slapped the franchise tag (at $8.45 million) on Melton for the 2013 season after the two sides were not able to agree to a contract extension. He figures to get a big contract from the Bears or another NFL team this upcoming offseason. That is of course if he can stay healthy, and a concussion is not a good start to that. It's also a worrisome medical issue to have in your history, and teams (and the NFL in general) are getting extra cautious for subsequent concussions suffered by players that have a history of them (even if just one in the past).

This will unlikely (although you never know with head injuries) hold Melton out more than a couple weeks, and he should be good to go by the season opener against the Bengals in a month, but it still keeps him away from getting useful reps under a new defensive coordinator in Mel Tucker. Additionally, Tucker had Melton working some out of a stand-up, rover-esque position over the last week of camp, and wanted to continue to give Melton practice with the stand-up position.

The 26-year-old Melton is arguably the most important player in the Bears' defensive scheme, and they're going to need him out there, playing like his All-Pro-level self, in order to contend for a Super Bowl in 2013.

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The Bears open up their 2013 preseason, and the Marc Trestman era, against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium tonight in Charlotte, NC.

Let's go to some Bears-related links to get caught up on the stories/notes in the world of the Chicago Bears as we head into this game...

Here At DBN

Bears cornerback Kelvin Hayden out for the season with a torn hamstring

Reacting to the Bears' preseason depth chart


Around The Web

10 players to watch in Bears' preseason opener- Adam Hoge writes about his 10 players to keep an eye on tonight, and why. Make sure to click through and read the explanations, but I'll list the players:

1. RG James Brown.
2. RG Kyle Long
3. LB Jon Bostic
4. CB Isaiah Frey
5. S Brandon Hardin
6. DT Zach Minter
7. CB Demontre Hurst
8. RB Michael Ford
9. OT Jordan Mills
10. DE Cornelius Washington

Hard to argue much with that list, but I'll add some players of my own to keep an eye on:

WR Joe Anderson- If the season were to begin today, it's hard to see him not being on the roster. It sure seems like he's the No. 4 wide receiver at the moment, he's impressing more seemingly everyday in camp, and he was a big factor on special teams late in 2012. Barring an awful preseason or other wide receivers really stepping up, it's hard to see Anderson not making the roster. What interest me more, is if he'll be a legitimate contributor at wide receiver, and a quality preseason showing there would certainly help those chances.

WR Eric Weems- Whereas Anderson's stock is continuing to trend upward, Weems' is going in the opposite direction. He hasn't stood out at wide receiver in training camp, and Devin Hester is the clear No. 1 kick returner, diminishing Weems' value to the team there. He'll likely need to make some plays in the preseason games to have a decent chance to make the roster, in my opinion. Right now, I think he's on the outside looking in.

WR Marquess Wilson- Seeing a trend here? Wilson was an extremely talented wide receiver in college, but quitting his team (Washington State) understandably put quite a dent in his draft stock. But again, he has the talent, and if he has his head on straight, the Bears may have gotten a steal in the seventh round. And if he shows off his talent in these preseason games, it will be hard for the Bears to keep him off the roster (and someone else may want him on their roster, thus potentially preventing him from being a practice squad option).

QB Matt Blanchard- I don't see him beating out Josh McCown (and that's not an endorsement for McCown either) for the backup job, but then again, I don't really know how good Blanchard is. Few do. All we can go by is some preseason action last year and two training camps, as he was a Division III  player in college. An impressive showing in camp could go a long way to positively shape the Bears' (and our) view of him, and perhaps cause for a backup QB controversy.

TE Fendi Onobun- Highly talented and athletic (a former basketball player) at 6'6", 260, but he's been unable to stick with any teams because he's been unable to get it done when the lights come on. He'll get the chance to prove he is more than just a practice star in these next four games.

OL Eben Britton- For why to pay attention to him, read the article below about him, which is ironically from Hoge as well.

LB Khaseem Greene- A fourth round pick out of Rutgers in 2013, Greene is a tackling, fumble-forcing machine that should fit in very well with what the Bears have done on defense in recent years. He's currently the second-string strongside linebacker behind veteran James Anderson, but a nice preseason could have him possibly taking that job away from Anderson before long.

Five things to watch: Bears-Panthers (ESPN Chicago)

Top five things to watch in Bears-Panthers (Bear Goggles On)

Top five things to watch in Bears-Panthers (Chicago Sun-Times)

Pleased to meet you: Preseason Week 1, Carolina Panthers (Windy City Gridiron)

Bears Stock Watch: Which players are rising and falling through 2 weeks of camp- Great stuff from our buddy Matt Eurich (@MattEurich) (Bleacher Report)

Bears don't need Trestman to be a "quarterback whisperer"- Terrific read from Dan Durkin on what the Bears need out of Marc Trestman as head coach. Durkin did some great research on stats most correlated with wins. (670 The Score)

Cutler will play Friday, but not very much- Jay Cutler will start for the Bears at quarterback tonight, but don't expect him to be in there for more than a series or two:

“It could be three plays, it could be one play, it could be eight plays,” Trestman said. “I’m not trying to be smart. We’ll see how the flow of the game goes. If we go three and out, we’ll decide if he goes back in for another three. He may not.” (670 The Score)

Blitz could be coming for Bears- (Chicago Tribune)

Melton part of new wrinkle in Tucker's defense- New defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has Bears' start defensive tackle Henry Melton setting up in a stand-up position on some plays in training camp, and it's something we could see in the regular season.

Here's an excerpt from the article:

Melton got out of his customary three-point stance and rushed the passer from a stand-up position, something first-year defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is experimenting with in training camp.

"That's a little wrinkle he's bringing to us," Melton said. "We're just testing it out right now. We're going to see how it works for us, and we'll see if we're going to run it." 

A converted college running back who rushed for 10 touchdowns as a freshman at Texas, Melton said he's comfortable rushing the quarterback from a stand-up position because "I'm an athlete." 

"Whatever they ask me to do, I'm going to do it," said the 6-3, 295-pounder. "If it's going to help us win, I'm all for it."  (ChicagoBears.Com)

Britton taking advantage of reps at Left Tackle- Adam Hoge writes how Bears' free-agent signing Eben Britton is looking solid as an offensive tackle so far in camp. And Britton may be the starting left tackle tonight, as Jermon Bushrod is expected to sit as a precautionary measure as he recovers from a calf injury.

Britton was pretty bad for the Jacksonville Jaguars last year at guard, after losing his offensive tackle job there, but he's impressing so far in camp, and that would really be nice for depth purposes if he could be a competetent backup tackle. And perhaps even push J'Marcus Webb at right tackle.

Make sure to read Hoge's great article, but here's a nice excerpt from it:

Britton sounds like a guy who is taking nothing for granted. In fact, he almost sounds like a guy who is expecting to be cut. But the fifth-year pro looking for new life in the NFL has performed very well throughout training camp, and at this point, it would be surprising if he doesn’t stick with the Bears. 

“He’s had a very productive start of camp,” head coach Marc Trestman said. “He’s versatile. He can play just about every position, both on the left and right side. At this point I can say he’s definitely involved in being part of this roster – on a week-to-week basis. The 46″ 

By that, Trestman means not only will Britton likely make the roster, but he should be among the seven offensive linemen dressing every week. (670 The Score)

Matt Blanchard looking to leave a mark (Chicago Sun-Times)

2013 stats over/under: Brandon Marshall (Windy City Gridiron)


Marc Trestman buys $2.94 million home in Winnetka (Chicago Tribune)

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Bad news on the injury front for the Chicago Bears on Tuesday, as it was revealed that cornerback Kelvin Hayden will undergo surgery to repair a torn hamstring that he suffered during Family Fest on Saturday night at Soldier Field. It's a six-to-eight month recovery period after the surgery, so Hayden will miss the entire 2013 season.

The 30-year-old Hayden was set to be the team's nickel back this season, and that's a very important defensive role in the pass-heavy NFL. And it's an especially important role when you're going to face terrific passing teams in the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions twice a year each, as the Bears will.

Additionally, Hayden was a starting cornerback for the Indianapolis Colts from 2007-2010, and still (when healthy, obviously) was a very capable fill-in at cornerback if Charles Tillman or Tim Jennings were to suffer an injury. His loss is felt in more ways than just his role as as nickel back.

In 2012, Hayden had 37 tackles, one interception, and five pass deflections with the Bears. He replaced former Bear D.J. Moore as the nickel back in-season, and the Bears then signed Hayden to another one-year, $905,000 deal over this offseason to play the same role.

Now, Isaiah Frey takes over as the nickel back, and he'd already taken over the role in practice over the last few days as Hayden sat out with his injury (which nobody thought was very serious initially). On Tuesday, I wrote about the Bears' preseason depth chart that was released after Monday's practice, and had this to say about Frey and the cornerbacks behind him on the depth chart:

Perhaps no player at Bears camp has turned heads more than Isaiah Frey, a sixth-round pick by the Bears in 2012. Frey is listed as a third-stringer at the moment, but is currently filling in for Hayden at nickel back as Hayden rests due to a hamstring pull. Frey has been great in coverage all camp, batting down passes, and even intercepting passes (as he did on one Cutler pass Tuesday). He's the main cornerback to watch closely in the preseason games. 

Sherrick McManis is also a third-stringer, but like Bowman, is around primarily for his contributions on special teams. C.J. Wilson and Demontre Hurst are fourth-stringers, and would need to greatly impress over the next month to have any chance at roster spots.

With Hayden's injury, I guess Frey picked a pretty damn good time to noticeably improve his play (in camp so far, at least), right?

Additionally, with Tillman, Jennings, and Hayden all free agents after this season, Frey has a chance to show general manager Phil Emery, and the Bears' coaching staff, that he could be a potential starting option at cornerback for 2014 and beyond. So you know he'll be extremely motivated to do well.

Of course, the 6'1", 190-pound Frey has never even played in an NFL game yet; he spent all of 2012 on the practice squad. And we know that you can only take so much out of what a player does in training camp/preseason games. We won't truly know what he brings to them table for a while.

If Frey, Tillman, or Jennings get hurt (and odds are at least one of them will suffer at least a minor injury over the season), then it's down to guys that are primarily on the roster for special teams in Zack Bowman and Sherrick McManis. I'm not saying they aren't capable short-term plug-ins, but you'd rather just keep them in the roles they're in now.

I'd have to think Emery will look at free-agent options for cornerback depth, especially once teams start making cuts over the next few weeks. But definitely keep an eye on how Frey, McManis, and the rest of the backup cornerbacks perform on Friday night in the Bears' preseason opener at the Carolina Panthers.

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The Chicago Bears have finished nearly two weeks of training camp practice (including Family Fest in front of 29,000 fans at Soldier Field), and have their first preseason game of 2013 on Friday night against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, NC.

On Monday after practice, the team released their first depth chart of the preseason, and the first depth chart of the Marc Trestman era. While the depth chart doesn't mean a ton at this point, it's still nice to see what the staff thinks of the roster right now, and it gives a better idea of what positional battles to keep an eye on over the next few weeks.

Let's look at each position and what to make out of the initial depth chart:

Quarterbacks


Unless another quarterback is brought in (which I still think is very possible), it's going to go as the current depth chart says:

1. Jay Cutler (Duh)
2. Josh McCown
3. Matt Blanchard 

I'm still quite nervous about the idea of McCown being the quarterback if Cutler were to go down (and keep in mind Cutler's concussion history which will cause the Bears to be extra cautious with any hits to his head); the 34-year-old McCown has thrown 37 touchdowns compared to 44 interceptions, with just a 71.2 QB rating in his career. But Blanchard is a second-year guy with no NFL regular season experience, after being undrafted out of Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater. I'm not saying he isn't capable or hasn't impressed the Bears, but he's a developmental project that should be nowhere near the No. 2 role unless he greatly impresses in preseason. So, McCown has a big edge for the No. 2 spot given where we stand now.

Running Backs & Fullbacks

As is the case with quarterback, the top three running backs on the team will almost certainly be exactly as the current depth chart says:

1. Matt Forte
2. Michael Bush
3. Armando Allen

Listed fourth on the depth chart is Michael Ford, an undrafted rookie back out of LSU. Ford is listed at 5'10", 216 pounds, and ran for 392 yards on 71 carries (5.5 yards per carry), with three touchdowns. However, he only had two catches for 29 yards, and that's where Ford's main roster competition in Allen, is very good. Allen has lined up in the slot for some plays in camp, with Forte in the backfield, and has the abilities you look for in a third-down, change-of-pace back. So, barring injury, the three running backs come week one will be in the order the depth chart says now.  And that's as good of a running back group as you'll find in the NFL (hopefully this year we'll get a much better look at what Bush's talents).

At fullback, Evan Rodriguez is of course no longer on the roster after his incredibly poor judgment off the field led general manager Phil Emery to cut the former Temple product before he entered his second NFL season (Rodriguez has since signed with the Miami Dolphins). Replacing Rodriguez as the current No. 1 fullback is veteran Tony Fiammetta, who played with the Panthers in 2009 and Dallas Cowboys in 2010-2011. Harvey Unga, who is in Bears camp for what feels like the 17th time, sits behind Fiammetta, but as always, is a long shot to make the roster.

Wide Receivers

Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are of course the starters on the outside, and Earl Bennett is listed as second-string, but his essentially a starter as the slot receiver (although Martellus Bennett is going to end up lining up there in place of Earl a lot). That is of course if Earl can stay healthy, something that has been quite an issue for him in his Bears career. And already, he's dealing with health issues, as he left Family Fest with concussion-like symptoms. Keep in mind he also suffered a concussion last season, so this is a very worrisome situation.

Behind Marshall and Bennett are 2013 seventh-round Bears selection Marquess Wilson at third-string, and Terrence Tolliver and Jerrell Jackson as co-fourth-stringers. Wilson is an exciting talent that fell to the seventh round after being suspended at Washington State, and subsequently quitting the team. He's definitely a guy to keep an eye on in the preseason games, and he'll challenge for a roster spot. If he doesn't make the team, the Bears will surely hope they can get him on the practice squad.

Joe Anderson emerged as a very intriguing wide receiver prospect last preseason, and he then went on to be an impact player on special teams late in the regular season. He's reportedly been very impressive in camp (and reeled in a 50-yard TD pass from Cutler on Tuesday), and currently is listed behind Jeffery as a co-second-stringer with undrafted rookie Marcus Rucker. At this point, I'd honestly be surprised if Anderson didn't make the roster, and even if his primary role is as a special teamer, I think he'll make some contributions at receiver. Right now, he appears to be the fourth-best wide receiver on the roster.

Behind Anderson/Rucker on the depth chart are Devin Aromashodu (yep, he's back) and Brittan Golden as co-third-stringers, and Eric Weems and Josh Lenz as co-fourth-stringers. Aromashodu's size and experience (especially with Cutler) will give him a chance to move up a spot on the depth chart. Weems as a fourth-stringer at the moment is certainly an eye-opener. The 5'9" veteran had only two catches for the Bears last season, and with Devin Hester becoming a full-time returner, Weems' value in that department takes a hit as well. A lot can change over this next month, but right now, I don't think Weems would make the roster.

Tight Ends

Hey, the Bears have a legitimate tight end that can block AND actually catch the football!

That tight end would of course be the 6'6", 270-pound Martellus Bennett, whom the Bears signed to a four-year, $20 million deal in the offseason. Bennett had 55 catches for 626 yards and five touchdowns in 2012 for the New York Giants, and the Bears are loving his versatility so far. We'll likely see a lot of him lining up as a wide receiver, with a blocking specialist at tight end.

That blocking specialist could be Steve Maneri, currently No. 2 on the depth chart. Maneri is followed on the initial depth chart by co-third-stringers Kyle Adams and Fendi Onobun, and co-fourth-stringers Gabe Miller and Leonard Pope. The most intriguing guys of that group in my opinion are Onobun and Pope.

Onobun, 26, is a 6'6", 249-pound freak athlete (former basketball player) that has always impressed for teams in practice, but has never been able to get it done with pads on. Otherwise he of course would've stuck somewhere by now. Reports are that he's shown off his exciting tools in camp, but has been inconsistent overall. He'll likely have to make some plays when the lights on in these four preseason games to have a chance to win a roster spot.

Pope is a veteran tight end you're possibly familiar with that turns 30 in September, and was signed by the Bears over the last few days. He's a big, big dude at 6'8", 264, and is a blocking specialist, although he's caught touchdown passes in each of the last four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs (2009-2011) and Pittsburgh Steelers (2012). Although currently on the fourth-string, he could quickly shoot up the depth chart.

Offensive Line

Phil Emery's premier focus in the offseason was addressing an offensive line which has had very, very well-documented struggles in recent seasons. The two most noteworthy moves made by Emery were the signing of free-agent left tackle Jermon Bushrod to a deal worth approximately $36 million over five years, the drafting of University of Oregon product Kyle Long in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

Bushrod served as Drew Brees' blindside protector in New Orleans, and now he'll try to protect Jay Cutler, something J'Marcus Webb struggled mightily at doing over the last few years at the position. Webb is still atop the depth chart as an offensive tackle, but on the right side, this time. Coming into camp, I expected veteran swing tackle Jonathan Scott (currently listed as second-string left tackle) to compete with Webb for the starting job at right tackle, but it now seems like it would take Webb performing poorly in preseason for that to be a possibility.

Behind Webb on the current depth chart at right tackle is veteran Eben Britton at second-string, 2013 Bears fifth-round pick Jordan Mills on the third-string, and Cory Brandon on the fourth-string. As for the left side, undrafted rookie A.J. Lindeman is listed as the third-stringer. Of these guys, Mills is definitely the one to keep a close eye on in the preseason games. He's very talented and could push Webb at right tackle before long.

Long's camp has had mixed results thus far, and that's what should be expected about a guy with limited college experience. His talent (particularly his overall athleticism and strength) has greatly impressed teammates and onlookers, though. At the moment, he's listed as the co-starter at right guard with James Brown, another very talented young player (he's in his second year). Both have gigantic ceilings, but plenty of refinement needed to reach those ceilings. Brown may be a bit more advanced than Long at the moment, but it would be a surprise to see Emery's first-round pick on the bench come week one. Regardless, this is probably the top positional battle we'll see over the next month, and it's worth noting that no other player is listed on the depth chart at right guard. It's clear they're letting these two players duel it out.

At No. 1 on the depth chart at left guard is 27-year-old veteran guard Matt Slauson, whom the Bears signed to a team-friendly one-year, $815,000 deal in the offseason after he started every game for the New York Jets at left guard over the last three seasons. You can pencil him into the left guard position (barring injury, of course) for week one. Rounding out the depth chart at left guard are Taylor Boggs and Derek Dennis, with each needing very impressive preseason campaigns to have realistic roster shots.

Atop the center depth chart is the 34-year-old Roberto Garza, a player on the heavy decline over the last few years, and a player I don't think should be guaranteed of anything, but it would be a surprise to see him beaten out by current second-stringer Edwin Williams for the starting job. Williams is likely to make the roster though, and is probably ahead of Boggs and Dennis in reality on the guards depth chart. Boggs is also listed as third on the center depth chart, and P.J. Lonergan, an undrafted rookie out of LSU, is currently fourth at the position.

Defensive Line

Julius Peppers will of course be manning the right side, and behind him on the depth chart right now are Cheta Ozoguwu (second-string) and Kyle Moore (third-string). With free-agent signing Turk McBride done for the year already after suffering a torn achilles, depth at the defensive end position is a concern. At least one of Ozoguwu and Moore figure to make the team, so pay attention to their performances in the upcoming preseason games.

Then there's the left side at defensive end, where we have the headliner of the depth chart in terms of the defense, as Corey Wootton and Shea McClellin are listed as co-starters.

Wootton impressed in 2012, getting seven sacks and forcing two fumbles, while McClellin showed flashes of his pass-rushing ability that led the Bears to take him in the first round of the 2012 draft, but looked overmatched at times as well. McClellin's made some eye-opening plays in camp, but will he be able to be more than a situational pass rusher in 2013? You know the Bears will give him every shot over the next month to prove he can be an every-down guy, but for right now, Wootton is the most likely starter at the position in week one. Either way, McClellin will get a ton of playing time this season, with Wootton potentially moving inside on passing downs like Israel Idonije (now a Detroit Lion) did in the past.

Behind those two are the depth chart are Cornelius Washington and Josh Williams. Washington is a highly talented rookie (taken by the Bears in the sixth round) that is definitely worth monitoring in the preseason games.

At defensive tackle, we of course have Henry Melton (who of course is playing under the Franchise Tag) leading the charge, with Stephen Paea at the nose. This is a position where depth's been in question, especially after veteran Sedrick Ellis retired in recent weeks before ever playing a game for the Bears. 25-year-old Nate Collins is listed behind Paea on the depth chart, and definitely has a big lead on the overall No. 3 defensive tackle spot. But after Collins, there will be plenty of competition for defensive tackle roster spots, with Corvey Irvin (listed as second-string behind Melton), Zach Minter, Aston Whiteside, Jamaal Anderson (a recently signed veteran), Christian Tupou, and Brent Russell fighting to make the team. And as I said earlier, Wootton will likely move inside frequently on passing downs, so that could be one less spot for those players to compete for.

Linebackers

Certainly the most talked about position on the defensive side of the ball with the national media is linebacker, with Brian Urlacher retiring. Nick Roach, the starting strongside linebacker for the Bears over the last few years, is also gone, as he signed a deal with the Oakland Raiders in the offseason.

In come four new linebackers that are all likely to make the roster, in D.J. Williams, James Anderson, Jon Bostic, and Khaseem Greene.

Williams, a veteran with up and down (particularly off the field in terms of the "down" part), is currently listed as the No. 1 middle linebacker on the depth chart, but he's also "week-to-week" right now with a calf injury. With Williams out, Bostic, a hard-hitting second-round pick in 2013 out of Florida, has been taking the first-team reps at the position. And even if Williams beats out Bostic to start the season, Bostic figures to be knocking on the door for the starting middle linebacker spot as the year goes along.

The situation is very similar at the strongside spot, where veteran James Anderson, previously of the Carolina Panthers, holds the top spot on the depth chart at the moment, but could be challenged for the starter's role by Greene. Greene was the Bears' fourth-round selection out of Rutgers in 2013.

But we're well familiar with the No. 1 guy at weakside linebacker, who won't be losing his starting role as long as he's a Chicago Bear. I'm of course referring to Lance Briggs, the seven-time Pro Bowler. Briggs also takes over the role of defensive play-calling, something Urlacher was previously in charge of.

Special teams ace Blake Costanzo is capable of playing linebacker in a pinch, and is listed as the No. 2 strongside 'backer. Competing with him for backup strongside linebacker duties are JT Thomas (a guy I really like), and Andrew Starks, a Plainfield North product that played college football at Princeton last season.

At weakside linebacker, Patrick Trahan is listed as a third-stringer, followed by Jerry Franklin. Trahan played in games with the Bears each of the last two seasons and offers ability on special teams.

And at middle linebacker, Lawrence Wilson holds the current third-string spot.

Defensive Backs

With Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, the Bears had the best cornerback duo in the NFL in 2012, and that duo returns in 2013. However, they'll both be free agents after the season, so the backups have a chance to show that perhaps they are worthy starters in 2014.

Right now, the second-string backups are Zack Bowman and Kelvin Hayden.

The 28-year-old Bowman started 15 games for the Bears between 2009-2011, but his primary role on this team now is in the special teams department, where he excelled during the late part of 2012.

Hayden, 30, started two games in 2012, and was a starter for the Indianapolis Colts from 2007-2010. He's a very capable starter, but will serve as the nickel back on this team (UPDATE: Hayden tore his hamstring and will miss the entire season).

Perhaps no player at Bears camp has turned heads more than Isaiah Frey, a sixth-round pick by the Bears in 2012. Frey is listed as a third-stringer at the moment, but is currently filling in for Hayden at nickel back as Hayden rests due to a hamstring pull. Frey has been great in coverage all camp, batting down passes, and even intercepting passes (as he did on one Cutler pass Tuesday). He's the main cornerback to watch closely in the preseason games.

Sherrick McManis is also a third-stringer, but like Bowman, is around primarily for his contributions on special teams.  C.J. Wilson and Demontre Hurst are fourth-stringers, and would need to greatly impress over the next month to have any chance at roster spots.

The safety duo will be the same as last year as well- Major Wright at strong safety and Chris Conte at free safety. I highly recommend reading an article former NFL safety Matt Bowen recently wrote about Wright and Conte potentially being in store for breakout seasons: Link.

Craig Steltz is listed as the second-string free safety, followed on the depth chart by Cyhl Quarles and Tom Nelson. Only Steltz would make the team right now out of that group.

Listed on the depth chart behind Wright at strong safety are Anthony Walters on the second-string, Brandon Hardin on the third-string, and Tom Zbikowski on the fourth. Hardin didn't play in a game during his rookie year after going on IR, and still has a lot to show to make an impact this year.

Special Teams

No surprises on the special teams depth chart. Robbie Gould is the kicker, Adam Podlesh is the punter, Devin Hester is the kick returner/punt returner, and Patrick Mannelly is the long snapper.

Gould has no competition at kicker, but undrafted rookie Tress Way out of Oklahoma has an impressive leg that could push Podlesh at punter. Still, it would be a stunner to see Way beat out the solid veteran.

Hester's been fully removed from wide receiver duties and seems very motivated to do everything he can to get back to being an elite returner again. Although he's quite pricey for a guy only on special teams, it would be a surprise to see the Bears cut him. Eric Weems follows Hester on the kick return depth chart, while Earl Bennett and Michael Ford follow No. 23 on the punt returner depth chart. It's worth noting that rookie wide receiver Josh Lenz was also catching punts with Hester on Tuesday in practice.

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