|A wealth of promising young players made Bryan Robinson expendable.|
Tight end Gabe Reid was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury he sustained in the preseason finale in Cleveland.
Tackle Marc Colombo was put on the physically unable to perform list, making him ineligible to play in the first six weeks of the season. Colombo has been sidelined since dislocating his knee Nov. 18, 2002 in a Monday night game at St. Louis.
A wealth of promising young prospects made Robinson expendable. The longest tenured player on the defense was cut after registering 331 tackles and 16½ sacks in six seasons with the Bears.
"That probably was our toughest decision," said general manager Jerry Angelo. "It really came down to a matter of what we're doing with our scheme and Bryan did have value in our scheme. We had him at the end position (and) the defensive tackle position, but in the end we felt that there were some younger players going into their second and third years and we felt that the arrow's going up on them and felt good about them.
"We sat and talked it over quite a bit with the coaches. We had time to make this decision. We waited right until the 11th hour. We watched the tape (of the preseason finale) versus Cleveland and we liked the continued development of some of the younger players and it came down to that."
With Robinson gone, first-round pick Tommie Harris figures to become the team's top defensive tackle. The former Oklahoma star has shown flashes of the quickness and athleticism that made him so enticing on draft day.
"Tommie Harris is everything that you could ask a first-rounder to be at this stage of his career," said coach Lovie Smith. "We did a lot of research on him. We knew as much about him as we did with some of our guys coming in.
"That five-play sequence that you saw two weeks ago (against New Orleans), his play this past week; that's what makes it. He's a rookie. A 10-year player, you get real comfortable with a guy that can play like that, (but) it doesn't matter how old he is. As he told me, he's just getting into his groove right now. He's got a lot of good football ahead of him."
End Alain Kashama and end/tackle Israel Idonije both made the final roster after impressing coaches throughout training camp and the preseason.
Adewale Ogunleye and Alex Brown will start at end with Michael Haynes also part of the rotation. Other tackles on the 53-man roster include second-round pick Tank Johnson, Alfonso Boone and Ian Scott.
As expected, Adrian Peterson edged Forsey for the third and final running back position behind Thomas Jones and Anthony Thomas. Peterson led the Bears in rushing this preseason with 214 yards on 47 carries, while Forsey gained 97 yards on 27 attempts.
|Brock Forsey rushed for 191 yards on 50 carries last season as a Bears rookie.|
Asked if the decision was based on Peterson being a better fit in the Bears' offense, Angelo said: "No, the better player won. We felt that Adrian outperformed Brock in the preseason. My personal feeling is that it was negligible; coach (Smith) might have felt there was a little bit more distance. But it was a good fight. They both had very, very good camps.
"They're very similar players in a lot of ways, but in the end we just felt Adrian had the better camp (and) the better preseason."
It also wasn't a surprise that Daryl Jones beat out Merritt for the fifth and final wide receiver job behind David Terrell, Bobby Wade, Justin Gage and rookie Bernard Berrian.
Jones led the Bears with six receptions for 75 yards in preseason action. He also averaged 29.3 yards on six kickoff returns, though Merritt bested him in that category with a 36.0-yard average on five returns.
"That was a very close call as well," Angelo said. "We felt a little better about Daryl as a receiver, not that we didn't think Ahmad could do that. But we felt Daryl throughout training camp showed a little more in that area. He did return kickoffs, so (he has) special teams value.
"Our coaches like the way Daryl progressed probably a little bit better than Ahmad did throughout camp."
Two of the big winners Sunday were Cameron Worrell and Todd Johnson. The second-year safeties were believed to be competing for one job, but both made the final roster. The Bears kept five safeties, with Worrell and Johnson joining Mike Brown, Mike Green and Bobby Gray.
"We feel that all five are very good players and they're all going to dress on Sunday, and special teams had a lot to do with that as well," Angelo said.
"Mike Green is a safety/corner for us. Given we're only going to have four corners dress on Sunday, if we do get into an emergency, we can use Mike as we have in the nickel package and we can play Mike as a corner. When you look at our roster and given the talent and given the fact that special teams is a big part of it, it made sense to us."