By Jack Spatara
Things are heating up at Soldier Field. With the preseason now officially in the Bears’ rearview mirror and the front office actively working to finalize its 53-man roster after a late round of waiver claims, the Bears seem to be set to walk onto the field with a starting lineup for Opening Day on Sunday.
The Bears concluded their preseason in Cleveland, defeating the Browns 21-20 on Aug. 27. Their other two contests with Seattle and Kansas City also ended in the Bears’ favor, with the Bears putting the Seahawks to bed with a comfortable score of 27-11, and the Chiefs were walked out of Soldier Field after a final score of 19-14.
Yet, this nice string of victories didn’t protect any stragglers from losing their jobs, despite the team’s overall success so far. The QB room has been trimmed down to just two players, Justin Fields and Trevor Siemian, after the veteran third-stringer Nathan Peterman was reduced to mercenary status yet again by the front office on Aug. 30. However, there is still a chance the team will bring him back on as a practice squad player later on in the year.
A surprising name who fell victim to the recent purging is Mario Edwards, Jr. Although he led the defensive unit in sacks this preseason, he didn’t quite fit GM Ryan Poles’ agenda for the defensive line, which he prefers to be made up of younger, stealthier athletes, with the key exception of veteran DL Robert Quinn, who’s expected to help mentor the younger players at his side.
Other players who were cut or waived recently include OLs Michael Schofield, Davontae Harris, and Lachavious Simmons, DL Trevon Coley, RB De’Montre Tuggle, CB Greg Stroman Jr., LB DeMarquis Gates, TE Chase Allen, WR Chris Finke, Isaiah Coulter, and WR/KR Nsimba Webster.
Roster cuts aside, there have also been a host of new roster additions, some of which are expected to have an immediate impact on the squad. Last week, the Bears claimed OL Alex Leatherwood on waivers after he was cut by the Raiders, with the intention of capitalizing on his high playing ceiling. DLs Armon Watts and Kingsley Jonathan were also reeled in, with either player ideally fulfilling the speedier agenda Ryan Poles has for the defensive line. LB Sterling Weatherford was brought in from the Colts, whose high-impact presence on defense will be greatly missed in Indianapolis. TE Trevon Wesco was picked up from the Jets, who was being eyed by several teams before the Bears finally scooped him up. CB Josh Blackwell was also brought in, who was recently waived by the Eagles.
With all of this said, what’s in store for the season? Nobody really knows at this point. What can certainly be said is that the Bears have done a lot this off-season, so much so that the team is virtually unrecognizable in contrast to where it was last season. The Pace and Nagy regime is now a distant memory, and the vision Poles and Eberflus have for this team is slowly becoming a reality.
Matt Nagy never named captains for the year, instead naming them on a week-to-week basis. With the new regime comes new traditions, however. This year, Justin Fields, Roquan Smith, Robert Quinn, and Cody Whitehair were named the captains of the 2022 season.
A new regime is nice, but there are a lot of questions left unanswered as the new season approaches. Will the new vision ever be realized? And if it does, will it be enough to eventually propel this young team toward a championship? Will they be in Arlington Heights when that championship comes?
The Chicago Bears will open the season this Sunday at noon hosting the 49ers.
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