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Cutdown day a rollercoaster of emotions for rookies

Bears rookie running back Trestan Ebner
Bears rookie running back Trestan Ebner

When it comes to roster cut day, no news is good news. Rookie offensive tackle Zachary Thomas spent all day waiting for a phone call from an Illinois number, while also hoping it never came.

Players who made the 53-man roster on Tuesday were not informed, while those who were waived or had contracts terminated received a call.

"It was stressful all day," Thomas said. "I mean, I was watching my phone all day. I woke up, first thing I did [was] check the phone, just waiting for a call from an Illinois number. Terrifying.

"I never got told that I was good. So I was in meetings, and then my family saw on Instagram [I made the team] while I was in meetings. My phone just started to blow up, just congrats, that they're happy for me, stuff like that. Short, simple stuff. I mean, I haven't even looked at my phone. I'm sure it's still blowing up."

Thomas, a sixth-round draft pick out of San Diego State, was one of many young players who spent the entire day by their phone.

Ja'Tyre Carter, another rookie offensive lineman, was also unsure about his status heading into Tuesday. He spent the morning in his hotel room alone then went out to Halas Hall in the early afternoon. By the time meetings came around, Carter knew he had made the cut. He was "surprised, but also happy at the same time."

"It was a rollercoaster of emotions from nervous, anxiety, just everything you feel," Carter said. "Anything a human could feel, all those emotions just came in one day."

Take a look at each player on the Bears' initial 53-man active roster for the 2022 season. (Players listed numerically) (As of Aug. 30, 2022)

Rookie Trestan Ebner was one of three running backs to make the 53-man roster, along with veteran David Montgomery and second-year player Khalil Herbert.

Through training camp, Ebner leaned on Montgomery and Herbert, soaking in as much knowledge from them as possible, whether it was about diet, mental health in the league or things the pair did in practice. Ebner felt the time he spent learning and competing with the older backs through training camp helped him make the roster.

For Ebner, the more emotional part of the day was watching now former teammates say goodbye.

"I wasn't really as nervous as I probably should have been," Ebner said. "But I'm just a strong believer in God, so I know he'll take care of everything. But just seeing some of the guys you've grown close to, seeing them leave, it's kind of different. Everybody stays in college, and here you see guys packing up their lockers and stuff. So that got me in my feelings a little bit."

Thomas, Carter and Ebner all tried to go about their business as usual following the cuts. None of them made calls or sent texts about the news. Their focus had to quickly shift back to practice.

“It was a rollercoaster of emotions … Anything a human could feel, all those emotions just came in one day.” Bears rookie Ja’Tyre Carter on final roster cuts

Offensive tackle Larry Borom was in the trio's spot just a year ago. As a fifth-round pick last season, he remembers the nerves this day brought him, so seeing many of the rookies back in the locker room on Tuesday brought him excitement.

"That's everything. Being a late-round pick myself, I mean, it's a blessing," Borom said. "You can't take any second, any moment, all of this can be gone. So to see them in here and just be happy, it's a blessing."

Borom also understands how much of the work actually starts now. The second-year tackle said about a quarter of the work is before cuts and most of it comes after.

Thomas, Carter and Ebner already have a sense of how much is left to come. Carter said there's no change or sense of comfort, rather an increase in the workload. Now, it's all about continuing to go hard in practice and showing coaches why they're supposed to be here.

"I think the work has to pick up even more now," Thomas said. "The first thing our coach told us was the hardest part is staying in the O-line room. So I would just say it's gonna pick up even more from here. We're just gonna get more advanced. We're gonna start watching different teams, have a full playbook up now that we're out of the preseason, and it's just gonna keep picking up."

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