Archive for the ‘53-man roster battles’ Category

Analyzing the Chicago Bears Depth Chart

August 13, 2009

As expected the Bears released their official depth chart yesterday. Really there is not a real surprise on the depth chart after what we have seen this far in camp. Most all the players we figured would be where at their slots are where you thought they would be. There’s no real surprises in the depth chart at this point in camp.

The only intriguing thing is rookie safety Al Afalava who is running with the second team at strong safety. Afalava was barely around for OTAs but that hasn’t stopped him from showing up in camp and proving he may just be an NFL ready safety. Afalava will be one player to watch during the pre-season game tomorrow night against Buffalo. The rookie is once again proving that Jerry Angelo and his team of scouts know how to find very talented NFL ready players in the later rounds of the NFL draft. Afalava fits Angelo’s pedigree to a T and he has the versatility to play free or strong safety although the roles in the Bears’ defense between free and strong aren’t very different.

Elsewhere Mark Anderson’s solid training camp has led to him being listed as a starter at both of the DE positions. The major hope that Anderson would take to Rod Marinelli’s tutelage has been realized to this point. Anderson is yet another player who will be watched during the pre-season game to see what kind of pass rush he can generate. Although Anderson is unlikely to play long given his status as a starter.

At left guard Josh Beekman has thoroughly held off the challenge of free agent signee Frank Omiyale. Beekman was good enough last year and looks like he may be even better this year. Bears fans may have a lot of unfair disdain for Beekman but he just seems to be unfazed by any of it. He’s taking it in stride and competing at a high level right now.

On defense at nose tackle it’s still a three man race between Anthony Adams, Dusty Dvoracek and Marcus Harrison, with none of the three giving ground to the other. All three seem to realize that the third team loser of this battle is likely to be cut so they are performing well up to expectations.

The game against Buffalo will tell some about this team but I think the real keys to follow will be with the depth that we are counting on, and the rookies playing like they could be starters some day.

For more in-depth discussion on the Chicago Bears’ training camp go to Midway Illustrated

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Chicago Bears Training Camp Report Day 5

August 5, 2009

Apparently I am painting to rosey of a picture for the liking of some Bears fans so I’m going to do my best to point out the negatives that have gone on thus far in practice to try and even out the coverage.

Since I’m being too optimistic and not negative (although wait until we lose our first game or the Packers’ RB gets a long run or a first down catch on a 3rd and 12) so I’ll follow through with some things that are disconcerting.

Beyond Tommie Harris and his never going to heal arthritic knee we have Devin Hester who is still dropping balls. Hester is also still to small to truly be a number one receiver because to take him away all you have to do is jam him at the line of scrimmage. Jam him, throw off his timing and he’s not going to get open or be able to do much to get into his route. You don’t see a lot of this in the Cover-2 defense nor do you see it when the team is running through practice with about half the speed and intensity you would see in a real game. Hester had made some plays but he’s still showing he drops a lot of balls and his routes are better but not as precise as you’d like to see out of him.

Cutler has seemingly got worse day by day he throws INTs pretty consistently in practice. On day five it was Urlacher and Bowman who were making picks of Cutler. This belies the problems he’s had with his 18 INTs to just 25 TDs on so many attempts. You prefer to have a QB who has about a two to one TD to INT ratio. Cutler doesn’t have that for his career even with the offense he had in Denver he was still unable to attain a two to one ratio. The fact that he’s showing so many picks is not a positive sign moving forward. You can tell at times he’s trying to force his throws because he has air mailed a few balls here and there that should have otherwise been on target.

Tom Waddle mentioned that the best receiver out there has looked like it’s been Rashied Davis. Davis looks to be the sharpest route runner, the best in and out of his breaks and looks like a pro receiver. Waddle remarked that he didn’t see anything from Hester that looked all that good, nor did he see much from Earl Bennett. I bring up Waddle’s observations because he played WR for the Bears and KNOWS what it takes to be a good player. His opinion carries more weight because he’s been there done that.

So if Rashied Davis looks the best out of the players that are out there practicing at wide receiver according to a former WR, the Bears could be in deep trouble. Beyond all the happy go lucky feelings that are coming out of camp, I’ll take Waddle for his word on the receivers. Sure there are subtle signs but until the games get going we’re not going see much evaluation wise because everyone usually looks good in practice.

Nathan Vasher is likely participating in his last Chicago Bears training camp. Vasher has been a shadow what he once was before he demanded and received his hefty pay day. Same goes for a lot of the Bears on defense. They’ve gotten lazy and have not performed up to expectations since they got their palms greased.

Most notably the player who seems to have not done much and is on the hot seat is Adewale Ogunleye. O-Gun just doesn’t seem to have much left in the tank or much motivation. He has for the most part been dominated by Chris Williams who is a solid pass protector and is earning pretty strong reviews for his pass blocking. Typically you’d like to see a talented veteran like O-Gun getting more than his fair share of positive talk from practice, but he hasn’t.

At safety Danieal Manning is still himself, the guy who can get lost in coverage or make a big play to keep himself around. He’s a good nickel player but after that he’s a ghost for the most part. Free safety is really starting to become even more of a question mark. Free agent signee Josh Bullocks has pretty much been passed over on the depth chart by rookie Al Afalava. When you have a veteran second round draft pick getting beat out pretty handily by a sixth round draft choice rookie you know the coaches likely missed on that evaluation.

Speaking of other rookies, Juaquin Iglesias and Henry Melton, (if they make the team) will likely make the roster based simply on their draft status. Neither one has stood out to this point Iglesias especially given his draft status in the third round. More was expected out of him but all the knocks on him that existed that caused him to fall to the third round, still exist now. Iglesias’ route running is damn near horrible and that’s a direct result of being in the spread passing game that Oklahoma ran. The defenses in college aren’t near as complex or intricate or efficient as they are in the NFL. So in college a player like Iglesias can get by on just being in the right place at the right time or being in a place where a player completely missed his assignment.

Since Oklahoma often times spread teams out rather thin this gave them even more holes to work with and Iglesias was the beneficiary of bad defenses. Now that he’s seeing tight coverage that requires precise route running to get open he’s being shut out and talked about in terms of being lucky to make the 53-man roster. Brandon Rideau and Rashied Davis easily have an argument to make the team, but if the Bears keep only five receivers like they did last year then Rideau or Davis is likely going to be phased out in favor of a rookie who’s only saving quality is where he was selected in the draft.

Iglesias’ Big-12 counterpart Henry Melton is full of raw talent, but lacks any other quality you’d like to see in an NFL football player. He’ll likely make the team as a practice squad player who the Bears hope can develop and move through the rookie learning curve at a good pace. Melton is behind Alex Brown, O-Gun, Idonije and Mark Anderson on the depth chart plus with Jarron Gilbert’s ability to play inside or out ala the bigger Idonije that versatilityi for him is more valuable on the 53-man roster than Melton is.

The next big question is why hasn’t Frank Omiyale beat out Josh Beekman for the number one spot at left guard? Beekman has consistently ran with the ones day in and day out. Beekman while a solid performer last year left a lot to be desired among most Bears fans. Yet to this point has managed to hold off Omiyale’s challenge at guard. It should also be noted that Omiyale is an OT learning a new position. There is no guarantee that Omiyale will take to the new position all that well given that his success has always been playing OT. OTs tend to work better out and space and guards typically need to be able to work in tighter quarters and be more of a mauler type of player. Omiyale’s pedigree doesn’t seem to fit the mold of a guard.

For more in-depth discussion on the Chicago Bears’ training camp go to Midway Illustrated

Bears waive two players before camp

July 31, 2009

Linebacker Joey LaRoque and guard Dennis Conley were both waived today prior to the start of practice. LaRoque was a bit of a contributor on special teams last year and the though early on was he might compete again this year.

However with the addition of Marcus Freeman via the draft and Pisa Tiniosamoa via free agency LaRoque became expendable.

With the roster moves the Bears are currently three under the limit of a total of 80 allowed for training camp. We do know this much one of those roster spots will most assuredly go to a punter for camp. Just some competition no worries on the Brad Maynard front.

The punter the Bears added was former Texas Longhorn Richmond Mcgee. Mcgee went undrafted and signs a one-year contract. McGee is a 6-foot-4 203-pound punter who averaged around 38-yards per punt during his career for the Longhorns according to ESPN.com.

McGee was part of the 2005 Longhorn National Championship team that won the Rose Bowl with Vince Young as quarterback.

For in-depth discussion regarding the start of camp and the excitement moving forward check out the forums at Midway Illustrated.

The Super Nova known as Tommie Harris

June 3, 2009

This is a continuing part of my series of roster battles, part of the 53-man roster battle royale. I chose to break in the Tommie Harris evaluation early because of a report I read on the ESPN NFC North blog concerning Tommie Harris’ left knee.

If you haven’t read the report I recommend you do because it’s eye opening in the quotes that Jerry Angelo gives in regards to the left knee of Tommie Harris.

Jerry Angelo is notorious amongst the windy city faithful for his circle talk. Talk that really hits about a point, but doesn’t really answer the question and essentially he’ll blabber on and circle around to his original point.

Lovie Smith and the majority of the Bears’ players are very well schooled by the Bears’ media expert on how to not talk to the media while at the same time seeming like you are.

Jerry Angelo talks about it addressing the main point that I come to this conclusion on, Tommie Harris will never be the player we had hoped he would be. For one and a half seasons Tommie Harris looked like an unstoppable force at the defensive tackle position. He was set to challenge Warren Sapp as perhaps the greatest three-technique DT in the Tampa-2 defense.

Instead all of that evaporated in the latter part of the 2006 season and partially in the early part of the 2007 season. What we can now know is that Tommie Harris plays consistently on a bum knee. A knee that limits his explosiveness, his leverage and his ability to be effective as a pass rusher. His ability in turn makes the players around him better which in turn is the main engine that drives the Bears’ defense.

The main quote you take away from the article from Jerry Angelo is this

Is his knee pristine? No. it’s not.

The rest of the talk that comes afterward is pure circle talk. Don’t be alarmed, not to worry, things will be okay, it’s not as bad as it looks. The fans the media and the analysts are making a story where there is none. To much speculation is a bad thing, you get the idea.

What matters most is the Bears made Tommie Harris the richest defensive lineman in league history barely a year ago and now it appears they will not get their money’s worth out of the deal.

Tommie Harris will never be the player that we had hoped he would be a player that likely could have been defensive player of the league the last two seasons were it not for his knee.

What we do know is that Harris does not practice at 100% capacity nor does he participate 100% of the time. Instead he is limited during the seasons, and now he rarely participates in the regular season.

Could we expect production out of Tommie Harris? Yes perhaps there is still a good level of production that Harris can achieve. But the once dominant force that Harris appeared to on the verge of becoming, is now burning off into the distant memory, the land where Good Rex Grossman still lives on.

The hope here is that Marcus Harrison, or Jarron Gilbert will pick up and be a three technique that is comparable to what Harris was at one time. Perhaps in the infinite potential of these two players the Bears have one, or two that could equal the production that a one Tommie Harris might have brought had the knee not faltered.

Surely we can pass judgment on Jerry Angelo’s failure to recognize this before signing Harris to this long term contract. However money is not the issue here, it’s the production that we will not see. The dominance is gone, the defense that won’t achieve the level it perhaps might have with Harris may now never.

We hope that the defense can be productive and in the future dominant once again. Expecting that to happen with Tommie Harris playing at the level he once did may be a pipe dream.

It’s a sad realization to come to, but a realistic one nonetheless.

Chicago Bears 53-man roster battle royale: Hunter Hillenmeyer

May 26, 2009

Hunter Hillenmeyer has never been on the level of either Brian Urlacher or Lance Briggs as a linebacker. He hasn’t even put together back to back seasons of 60 tackles or more. He’s never been a pass rusher, never been much of a play maker.

One could argue that he’s only out there to eat space on that side of the field. Thing is Hillenmeyer has done enough things at the right points in the game throughout his career to be a starter.

He’s made some good plays in pass coverage in his career, and when teams have tended to run away from Briggs and Urlacher he has been there to make the play.

He is a cog in a defense that has ranked near the top of the league for the past half decade. So his value in that sense can’t be undermined.

At some point though, someone who can make more plays at a more consistent level is going to take his spot on the roster.

Last year Hillenmeyer never regained his starting spot after an injury allowed rookie Nick Roach to play well enough to not lose the spot. Which doesn’t really mean much because Roach himself didn’t play at a very high level either.

Truth be told though the strong-side linebacker in the Cover-2 defense is on the low end of the importance of production in this particular scheme.

The reasons being the front four is counted on to provide the pass rush, the weak-side linebacker has a bigger area of responsibility in coverage. Thus mitigating a lot of what you expect the strong-side linebacker to do.

This would explain why the Bears did not do a lot to bring in a high level of competition for Hillenmeyer. Roach is an undrafted free agent selection, after Roach it’s more of the same undrated free agents who you hope can develop into a decent player.

It’s not a necessity though so it’s possible that Hillenmeyer’s role on the teams is safe for now.

Chicago Bears 53-man Battle Royale: Olin Kreutz

May 26, 2009

If only the Bears had 53 Olin Kreutz type of players on the roster. Long time experienced veterans who play with a ton of heart and determination. Kreutz’s play has always epitomized the way a Chicago Bears team member should be.

He has been mean, nasty, gutty, and hard-working. The consumate professional its a damn shame he is nearing the end of his career. Kreutz is a multi-year Pro Bowl selection and has been THE constant unyielding presence on the O-Line for over a decade.

Now in the twilight of his career you hope he can be a coach on the line grooming the young pups for the years after Olin. Josh Beekman looks to be the heir apparent but is nothing like Kreutz. Kreutz is a leader in every sense of the often over used term. If anyone is going to demand and GET accountability from teammates it is him.

Now with Green Bay moving to the 3-4 defense Kreutz’s experience is even more invaluable. Because if there is anyone that is going to slow down rookie B.J Raji, who seems to already have punched his ticket to Canton the way some analysts talk, it will be Kreutz.

Nothing like a crusty old veteran, in a rivalry game no less, to be the guy to take the wind out of a rookie’s sail. This is a very plausible scenario because, well Raji is still a rookie. This is a game that plays right into Kreutz’s hands, because he is an underrated performer with his age, but still knows enough to beat a rookie.

The nice thing about Kreutz is he hasn’t given any indication, at least publicly, that he’s ready to call it a career any time soon. Also good offensive lineman tend to stick around longer than usual.

Another advantage is Kreutz hasn’t showed any signs of breaking down because of injuries. He’s been the picture of health throughout most of his career. He’s missed only eight games in his career due to injury, but only one game in the past eight seasons.

You wonder when this old man will call it a career. Not one for speculation I think it’s safe to say that given his tenure as a Chicago Bear, Kreutz has earned the right to decide on his own terms. Here’s hoping he’s around for a few more years and has the chance to wind up with a retired jersey number in Chicago.

Chicago Bears 53-man Battle Royale: Danieal Manning

May 25, 2009

This is Danieal Manning’s make or break year. He’ll likely get THIS season to prove his value, and then the Bears could move on from him. I make this statement based on the same statement Jerry Angelo made about Dusty Dvoracek.

Not because Manning has been as injured as Dvoracek, but because with each passing season Manning seems to slip lower onto the depth chart. He currently has no true position on the roster. Kick returner and nickelback sure, but more was expected out of a player with some of the best athletic ability on the roster.

Manning should be the starting free safety this year especially with the dire need for one and his speed. Talk about a true center fielder type, with his previously mentioned athetic prowess Manning should be able to cover a lot of ground in the secondary. Instead he looks completely lost out there at times, giving up the deciding touchdown to Andre Johnson in the final game of the season. Among other mental errors he has committed Manning, has been a part of game deciding plays and has been no help in run support.

Manning’s worth has been bumped up slightly only because of Devin Hester’s decent from elite kick off return man. Manning led the league in kickoff return average last year and did score a touchdown on a return. That being said Manning’s worth needs to be added to the secondary.

Especially because of his second round draft status in 2006. The Bears traded out of the fisrt round and then drafted Manning with their first pick. Manning fits into the mold of current athletic prospects Henry Melton and Jarron Gilbert. Players with elite level talent and athleticism that the Bears hope they can coach into players.

Manning to this point has failed to show up or take advantage of numerous starting chances. Due to Mike Brown’s constant injury problems Manning has started and gained what should be valuable experience moving forward.

Instead the coaching staff is choosing to go in a completely different direction with Saints castoff Josh Bullocks and strong safety Craig Steltz getting looks at the free safety spot.

More recently has been the development of CB Corey Graham being moved to safety. The tenous situation there is a direct result of Manning’s failure to develop.

So now the question is, what next for Danieal Manning? Can he be the team’s primary kickoff return man? Can he get enough value from his duties as the nickelback?

My guess is yes Manning will be on the roster through 2010. However he will not be in line for a comtract extension, and depending on the 2010 draft picks, may be gone before 2010.

Hopefully Manning can think of this as his one last shot and his play begins to reflect a player playing for his NFL life.

The Legend That is Brian Urlacher

May 19, 2009

It’s time to face the harsh reality of legendary middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, his best days are behind him. Brian Urlacher is the heart and soul of this team and has been the face of this franchise for 10 seasons. He is the poster boy for The Monsters of the Midway, the most popular player on the Bears since Walter Payton.

It’s truly is hard to see a legend begin a slow and painful decline in the twilight of his career. Especially since all Chicago Bears fans typically day dream of Urlacher big hits during a weeks leading up to a game.

On top of Urlacher’s greatness he mans the one position that three previous hall of famers have held down for this franchise. Beginning with Bill George who was the original. Tracing the roots on through to the greatest and most feared defender in the history of the league in Dick Butkus who struck fear into opponents on a level never seen before or since. On through the great years and Super Bowl Championship under samurai Mike Singletary the middle linebacker position has defined the franchise of the Chicago Bears.

It’s defined the reason I’m a Chicago Bears fan given my father played middle linebacker during his high school and college career and yours truly mixed it up as a linebacker for a few of his own years. It’s the position that doles out the most punishment on defense and not by coincidence is in the middle of everything.

Everyone wants to be like their heroes, and everyone wants to play the position their heroes played. For me and many Chicago Bears fans alike that position has always been the MIKE ‘backer position.

However playing such a position of punishment takes it’s toll and opponents and yourself alike. The biggest hits typically come from this position, the most frequent collisions happen at this position. This is a given since most great middle linebackers lead their teams in tackles.

As is the case with Brian Urlacher that toll has begun to wear down another all-time great. While we are used to seeing our heroes play for many years and having the live and play with a aura of invincibility. The fact of the matter is the greats who man this storied position typically have a career that lasts a shorter span than most greats.

While we may have to suffer through another season of watching the geriatric Brett Favre play for one more year of glory and a possible championship with the Vikings. We will never see Brian Urlacher’s career last as long as Favre’s 18-year tenure in the NFL. Why? Because for all of the talk that Brett Favre is one of the toughest players ever, the fact is a quarterback can go almost a whole season without getting his jersey dirty.

Urlacher will not last 18 years, we may be lucky to see him last another three given this arthritic back problem and his surgery on his neck. Subtle signs that his career of collisions has taken it’s toll on one of the most dominant defenders in the league the last decade.

I have been one of Urlacher’s harshest critics during the last two seasons. I have on numerous occasions called him out for lack of taking on the pile, squaring up on a blocker and plowing into the line of scrimmage. In the heat of every NFL season I have judged Urlacher’s play harshly, sometimes within reason, and sometimes outside the bounds of acceptability. But my love for Urlacher as a Chicago Bears player and middle linebacker will never waiver.

However Urlacher’s sense of legendary invincibility already has and I must accept that.

Brian Urlacher is one of the greatest defenders of his generation. Sure there has been Ray Lewis, Zach Thomas and others. But not many have been as consistently productive as Urlacher has been for as long as he has. Lewis and Thomas are both exceptions to the rule rather than the norm.

So we must as Bears fans accept the fact that Brian Urlacher is no longer the best linebacker on this team, nor is he the best linebacker in the league. Urlacher will likely be allowed to retire a Chicago Bear, and it should be that way. Unquestionably he has been the Joe Montana, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, John Elway of our beloved franchise. He is unquestionably the hero of this team for the first decade of this century. The defining player who represents all that is great about the Chicago Bears.

Urlacher’s play has faltered, last year he at times struggled to make plays he otherwise would have. He looked a step slower, look a bit weaker at the point of attack and his back pedal and coverage in the open field wasn’t what we are used to seeing from him. All sure signs of his age and heavy price he has paid by causing collisions.

This year we must measure are expectations for this all-time great player. Urlacher should be more of a mentor to the younger members of this franchise, be the type of coach on the field that we lost in Mike Brown. Expect a solid level of production and consistency, but not for Urlacher to compete for the defensive player of the year honors he won in 2005.

There is some hope that Urlacher will exceed our expectations. He has stated publicly he feels better this off-season than he has in any off-season in years. He says he’s fully recovered from last season’s off-season neck surgery, and this will in turn has allowed him to hit the weight room like had in previous years.

I take him at his word and hope for the best for this upcoming season. He should be a cog in a defense that again stops the run like it did last year, when it was fifth best in the league at doing so. He should once again don the captain’s C and his ability should continue to benefit the play of Lance Briggs.

Brian Urlacher I hope will have one maybe two more great years, years that will surprise us all. Hopefully a year that gets this all-time great another chance at a Super Bowl title. Maybe he’ll be able to play with less pressure and more rest while knowing that the Bears have potentially a new face to the franchise in quarterback Jay Cutler.

Cutler’s guidance to the offense should help keep the defense fresh and healthy by spending more time on the field. A stat that has plagued this defense for far to many seasons. The Bears are statistically one of the worst teams in the league at generating first downs over the last five seasons. From 2005 to 2008 a span of four seasons the Bears have been middle of the pack only ONCE in generating a first down. 2006 their Super Bowl year they were 14th in the league in total first downs. In 2005 they were 31st, and the last two seasons they have been 27th in the league in arguably one of the most overlooked and important stats. A stat that truly shows the efficiency of an offense and shows just exactly how much rest a defense gets.

Cutler’s addition BETTER improve that stat thus helping to improve the overall play of the Bears’ defense in 2009. By proximity a more rested unit will be better at shutting down opponents in the fourth quarter. Also having more gas in the tank will improve a fourth quarter pass rush and the defense’s ability to stop the run when they may be behind in games. Giving the offense another crack at a come from behind victory, or scoring again to put a game out of reach.

So with all the previous offensive stats in mind, I hope Urlacher can lead this defense to a level of play that allows them to have a couple playoff games at Soldier Field. Because as we know, playoff games in Chicago in January give the Bears one of the best chances in the league to win. The fans at Soldier Field provide one of the best home field advantages of any team in the league. Which means come January, anything can happen.

While Brian Urlacher’s play may not live up to a level that is expected of him, we must still respect him. Urlacher has given a lot for this franchise and has conducted himself with a high level of class, during the strong majority of his career as a Chicago Bear. We may never see the once great player we have enjoyed for nine seasons in the NFL thus far. However we will see a player dedicated to goal of winning a Super Bowl title.

Sadly as with many great legends of the battle field, and in the words of five-star general of the Army Douglas MacArthur squarely in mind, we will eventually see another great Bears play, fade away.

53-man battle royale: Rashied Davis

May 15, 2009

Talk about an enigma or a player who makes approximately two big catches per season that either put the Bears in position to win, or wins a game for the Bears. This is Rashied Davis‘ career in a nut shell, a player who shouldn’t be on the roster, but still finds a way to stick.

Davis is a former Arena League performer who has manned the Bears’ third receiver slot for the last three years. He is not as productive as you’d want out of a slot receiver, nor is he consistent.

His value to the team has been primarily as a special teams man. So the question is with the drafting of three receivers can Davis keep his spot on the roster?

The immediate answer is yes, Davis will likely be on the roster come the start of the season. However if the Bears do add a veteran receiver the chances for Davis making the roster dramatically decrease. The Bears only kept five receivers on the 53-man roster a year ago. With Devin Hester and Earl Bennett assured of spot, and rookies Johnny Knox and Juaquin Iglesias also in position to be on the final roster, only one more will likely be included.

If the bears sign a veteran, that vet will make five receivers making Davis’ spot extinct. Although we know the Bears are currently in a holding pattern regarding signing a veteran receiver, a post training camp cut may be what they are looking for.

Also working against Davis is his small stature, at only 5-foot-9 189-pounds Davis doesn’t have the size that best fits on the roster. He also doesn’t have the same level of speed that Johnny Knox possesses, thus being him further down the roster as a speed option.

So the question would be where does Davis fit in?

The answer is I don’t know if he does fit in on the roster any longer. While he did have the best season of his career his hands aren’t as consistent as you’d like to see. His down the field ability is only slightly above average and he can be replaced in the special teams game by a hungry rookie like Derek Kinder.

Although I am not an advocate of Kinder making the roster as a seventh round pick, I wouldn’t rule it out as a possibility yet either. Many an expert has spoken highly of Kinder and said other than his injury issue as a senior he may have been an earlier round selection.

If Kinder is recovered and lives up to a higher round draft slot then he could supplant the veteran Davis. Will that scenario play out? I doubt it, which likely leaves Davis’ position on the roster safe for now.

A player who has just been consistent enough hangs on by a thread, waving in the wind. Forever at risk of losing his roster spot, but making plays that matter in the clutch.

53-man battle royale: Mark Anderson

May 15, 2009

Where have you gone Mark Anderson of 2006? The rookie sensation who had 12 sacks over 16 games as a part time starter for the NFC Champion Chicago Bears. Anderson also caused four fumbles on his way to a run at the defensive rookie of the year honors.

However if you closely examine Anderson’s 2006 season you find that his success came in spurts, but also came against some of the worst pass protecting offenses in the league for that year.

When you break it down, Anderson had 8.5 sacks against teams that were in the bottom ten in the league in sacks allowed on the season. Anderson had 2.5 sacks against the Detroit Lions, 2.0 against the Buffalo Bills, 2.0 against the Seattle Seahawks, 2.0 against the St. Louis Rams, teams that were just awful in pass protection in 2006.

With this type of production against teams that were this bad at protecting the passer it’s easy to see how Anderson’s numbers were so inflated. Feasting against the worst pass protecting teams is exactly the reputation Anderson built for himself.

So the question is will he be able to better take advantage of Rod Marinelli’s arrival and get back to that level of production?

I find the likelihood of that to be highly unlikely. Anderson has some natural pass rushing ability, but there isn’t one aspect of his game that he does very well. He has decent size to be a weak-side pass rusher at 6-foot-4 255-pounds. But he is under-sized by the regular standards of what would be considered ideal.

Anderson’s speed off the edge is also not very impressive for a player who needs to be making his living off of rushing the QB. While he may have the most speed off the edge of any player on the Bears’ roster, it’s inadequate. Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye have average speed at best when it comes to running the curve.

While Brown has superb closing speed and both the starters hold up well against the run, getting to the QB is the weak point of their games.

You can even argue that Ogunleye has given up at this point in his career given how big of a failure he has been in Chicago.

Anderson further hurts himself by not being able to hold up well against the run thus limiting his role to a third down rusher. As a starter Anderson was man-handled against the run making it easy for teams to run at him.

The only plus side of Anderson’s failure was the fire it lit under the ass of Alex Brown. Brown has in turn become one of the best DEs in the league against the run. Brown saved the game against the Eagles with his fourth and one stop on the goal-line.

With the arrival of both Jarron Gilbert and Henry Melton Anderson may be on his last chance to be a part of the D-Line rotation. Both the rookies have attributes that Anderson lacks. Also by virtue of their draft standing this year they are both guaranteed a spot on the roster.

So the battle for Anderson may be for his very NFL career this year. With Marinelli here, and a load of competition behind him it’s Anderson’s year to put up or shut up. If he doesn’t show signs of big things in the pre-season you will likely see him not a part of the Bears’ final 53-man roster.