Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.
At this point in the preseason, what are the best position battles for spots on the Bears’ 53-man roster?
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Bears coach Matt Nagy was asked by a reporter Thursday about the positions he’s most closely watching with two preseason games, and he mentioned tight end, inside linebacker and cornerback. The Bears have established starters at all those positions, but the competition for reserve spots will continue in the final two preseason games. At tight end, veteran Bradley Sowell and undrafted rookies Ian Bunting and Dax Raymond are competing behind Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen and Ben Braunecker. At inside linebacker, Josh Woods, Jameer Thurman and Kevin Pierre-Louis are battling to earn backup jobs. And at cornerback, Duke Shelley, John Franklin III, Clifton Duck, Michael Joseph and Stephen Denmark are all vying for roster spots. With reserves asked to contribute on special teams, how those perform in that aspect of the game the next two weeks could determine whether they stick with the Bears.
Do you think that rookie running back Kerrith Whyte Jr. will make the Bears’ 53-man roster?
I think that seventh-round draft pick Kerrith Whyte Jr. has greatly increased his chances of earning a roster spot with his performance in the Bears’ first two preseason games and very well could be kept as the fourth running back behind Tarik Cohen, David Montgomery and Mike Davis. Whyte possesses blazing speed and has produced splash plays in each of the first two preseason games, with a 23-yard reception and a 7-yard touchdown run against the Panthers and a 103-yard kickoff return touchdown (that was nullified by a penalty) and a 1-yard TD run versus the Giants.
If the Bears want to sign players who are released by other teams during final cuts, how does that process work?
When players with at least four years of accrued NFL service—known as vested veterans—are cut, they immediately become free agents and can sign with any team. Players with three or fewer years of NFL service are placed on waivers and can be claimed by other clubs. The claiming order is based on last season’s records, and having finished 12-4, the Bears are 24th on the list. So the only way they would not be awarded a player they claimed is if a team that had a worse record in 2018 also claimed that individual.