The pads are on for training camp, and teams begin to ramp up to preseason and regular season action.
Based on reports and what we’ve seen at training camp, here’s my early projection for the Bears’ final 53-man roster, depth chart, and practice squad five weeks before the NFL season kicks off.

Current Bears’ 90-man roster here

QB (2) // Justin Fields | PJ Walker

Very straightforward. The franchise is in the hands (and legs) of Justin Fields, so he’s the undisputed starter.

Walker was clearly signed as a schematic fit backup with a decent amount of experience. They won’t keep a third QB on the roster.

RB (4) // Khalil Herbert | Roschon Johnson, D’Onta Foreman, Travis Homer

To start the season, Foreman will be ahead of Johnson due to Johnson missing some practice time and being a rookie. Herbert’s elite running will get him a lot of early-down work, Foreman will take some third down and short yardage work, and Johnson hopefully will work in as a pass catcher. Homer can also function as a pass catcher, though his main contributions will come on special teams.

The Bears have had success with 2 RB sets in the past few years, and I expect that to continue.

FB (1) // Khari Blasingame

Blasingame was a huge boost to the Bears’ rushing attack on plays he was in last season.

The fullback has fallen out of style in the modern NFL, but they can still be used very effectively, as Blasingame showed.

WR (6) // DJ Moore (X), Darnell Mooney (Z), Chase Claypool (Y) | Tyler Scott, Equanimeous St. Brown, Velus Jones Jr

Moore is the Bears’ undisputed WR1, and he’ll be taking snaps both from outside and from the slot—Ditto for Darnell Mooney, who will slide into the WR2 role. Claypool will slide down to the WR3 role and hopefully be able to fit in.

Scott is going to be an X-factor as a speedster who comes in for deep shots. St. Brown will be a blocker and jump ball receiver, and VJJ can come in for trick plays, jet sweeps, and wildcats. The Bears can now run 3 WR sets effectively.

TE (3) // Cole Kmet | Robert Tonyan, Mercedes Lewis

Kmet is the Bears’ top TE, and he’ll be in on almost every play, blocking and being a receiver, likely the third option behind Moore and Mooney. Now the Bears upgraded their TE depth so they can run more plays with 2 TEs. Tonyan hasn’t been the same after his knee injury, but he is a solid option as a receiver TE2.

Lewis has been one of the best blocking TEs in the league, even at his advanced age. This’ll really help Fields and the young offensive linemen.

OL (9) // Braxton Jones (LT), Teven Jenkins (LG), Cody Whitehair (C), Nate Davis (RG), Darnell Wright (RT) | Larry Borom, Lucas Patrick, Ja’Tyre Carter, Doug Kramer

The starting lineup is set, left to right; Jones showed out as a rookie 5th round LT, Jenkins was very good at guard last season, Whitehair returns to center, and Davis and Wright were the big OL acquisitions in the offseason.

Behind them, Borom is the swing tackle, Patrick can play center or guard, Carter has great athleticism, and Kramer is an intelligent center I’m very high on.

DE (5) // Yannick Ngakoue (LDE), DeMarcus Walker (RDE) | Trevis Gipson, Dominique Robinson, Rasheem Green

Two acquisitions from the AFC South bookend the defensive line. Ngakoue is a pass rush specialist who has had 8+ sacks every season of his career, and Walker is an inside-out defensive lineman who is solid against the run and had a career-high in sacks last season. Green has had experience both as a starter and as a rotational DE, racking up 10 sacks in the last two seasons. Gipson and Robinson are young and have a ton of traits that could make them good, but they need to develop.

DT (4) // Justin Jones, Gervon Dexter (NT) | Andrew Billings, Zacch Pickens

Jones had a solid season (relatively) for the Bears last year, and the captain should return as the main DT starter. Dexter has had a great camp so far, meaning he could snatch a starting job with his status as a second-round pick.

Billings could be a rotational run stuffer. Pickens is raw but will play due to his status as a third-round pick.

LB (5) // Tremaine Edmunds (MIKE), TJ Edwards (WILL), Jack Sanborn (SAM) | Noah Sewell, Dylan Cole

Lance Briggs declared this to be the Bears’ LB alignment after the signings in March.

Edmunds is the marquee signing, replacing Roquan Smith as a player who was as good last season (not in previous seasons) and fits the Bears’ scheme better. Edwards is a solid signing who can do everything at a good level to stabilize the group.

Sanborn is the young stud who flashed a ton in 2022. Sewell and Cole will play a lot on special teams, Sewell being a former top prospect and Cole having some starting experience.

CB (6) // Jaylon Johnson (LCB), Kyler Gordon (NB), Tyrique Stevenson (RCB) | Terell Smith, Kindle Vildor, Jaylon Jones

The CB group is strong and deep. Johnson has become a number 1 corner and is looking to ascend to top-tier status. Gordon struggled early last season but ended the year on a strong note, intercepting both Josh Allen and Jalen Hurts. He will man the slot where he excelled.

Buzz on Stevenson and Smith is through the roof so far at camp, as they go toe-to-toe with the Bears WRs and handle it. Vildor and Jones provide good depth, Vildor outside and Jones inside.

S (5) // Eddie Jackson (FS), Jaquan Brisker (SS) | Elijah Hicks, Kendall Williamson, Josh Blackwell

Jackson was on his way to an All-Pro season before his Lisfranc injury last season. He comes back with Brisker, who had a great rookie season and is going to have a breakout season in 2023 based on his training camp performance.

Hicks may get some snaps as a dime back with the other backup cornerbacks. Williamson and Blackwell will be special teamers.

Specialists // K Cairo Santos, P Trenton Gill, LS Patrick Scales

Santos had a great 2020, a good 2021, then struggled a bit in 2022. The Bears brought in competition, but he should be fine.

Gill had a slightly below-average rookie punting season, but the special teamers should be improved around him so fewer returns will be given up. Scales will return for his 8th season with the Bears.

Practice Squad (16) // QB Nathan Peterman, RB Trestan Ebner, WR Dante Pettis, WR Aron Cruickshank, TE/FB Jake Tonges, OT Alex Leatherwood, OT Kellen Diesch, IOL Dieter Eiselen, DT Travis Bell, DE D’Anthony Jones, DE Terrell Lewis, LB DeMarquis Gates, S AJ Thomas, CB Greg Stroman, CB Michael Ojemudia K Andre Szmyt

The Bears will keep a third QB, likely a veteran. Ebner stays due to his status as a Poles draft pick. Pettis stays due to his chemistry with Fields. Cruickshank has made some nice plays in camp.

Tonges has versatility. Leatherwood is still a recent first-round pick. Eiselen is versatile on the OL. Diesch was a high-sought after UDFA.

Bell was a Bears 7th-round pick this season. Jones and Lewis have both made a lot of plays in camp. Gates was decent last year late in the season.

Photo: GS-JJ

Thomas and Stroman made plays for the Bears last preseason.

Ojemudia has some instincts from being a recent 3rd round pick. Szmyt will be the backup kicker.

Regardless of the outcome, the team will surely choose the best combination of candidates to tackle the game and work hard to win the exclusive Custom Award Medals. If you like the Bears, cheer him on!

The Bears will definitely make some waiver wire changes, but based on the players currently on the 90-man roster, this is my prediction.

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