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Bears on Steadiest Ground

Analysis: Which Bears have emerged in the offseason looking like locks to be on the 53-man roster, and how many open spots will they actually have when camp begins.

 In early September, Bears coaches will get together and hash out who makes the final 53-man roster.

It will be interesting this year because of the Bears' status as a rebuilding team. Some players who would appear likely to make the team might find themselves on the street because other teams cut players who GM Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus might find as better fits.

There is an entire training camp to go yet for all of this but those who merely follow the team can avoid such trivial pursuits and jump the gun to final cuts right now, or at least to most of them.

Here are the perceived locks and near locks to make the Bears 53-man roster. By count, there are 38. This would leave the remaining 52 players to compete for one of 15 open positions, so training camp will be highly competitive to say the least.

The Locks

OFFENSE

RB David Montgomery, QB Justin Fields, WR Darnell Mooney, TE Cole Kmet, WR Velus Jones, RB Khalil Herbert, QB Trevor Siemian, G Cody Whitehair, C Lucas Patrick, OL Teven Jenkins, T Larry Borom, T Braxton Jones.

DEFENSE

DE Dominique Robinson, DT Justin Jones, DE Trevis Gipson, DE Al-Quadin Muhammad, LB Roquan Smith, LB Nicholas Morrow, S Eddie Jackson, CB Jaylon Johnson, S Jaquon Brisker, CB Kyler Gordon, S DeAndre Houston-Carson, S Dane Cruikshank.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K Cairo Santos.

The Why: Usually fifth-round draft picks are not getting cut unless someone makes a total mistake with a draft pick and Robinson has had enough first-team snaps to indicate this isn't the case. The same is true with Jones. Although they didn't pay a lot for Cruikshank, they appear to have a specific use intended for him, even if he hasn't practiced. The rest of the locks require little explanation.

Near Locks

OFFENSE

WR Byron Pringle, C Doug Kramer, RB Trestan Ebner, G Zachary Thomas, TE Ryan Griffin, TE James O'Shaughnessy, FB Khari Blasingame, LS Patrick Scales.

DEFENSE

DE Robert Quinn, DT Mario Edwards Jr., LB Matthew Adams.

Special Teams

LS Patrick Scales, P Trenton Gill.

The Why: Quinn can only be called a near lock for as long as there are trade rumors prior to coaches drawing up the final roster. Even after roster cutdowns, they could still eventually deal him before trade deadline.

Neither Pringle nor Adams can be moved into the lock category because of offseason legal issues. While they deserve the benefit of the doubt, when it comes to making the team even the slightest snafu could tilt things against them because of police-related charges. They've put GM Ryan Poles in an embarrassing situation, as well as even Matt Eberflus, since he was Adams' coordinator in Indianapolis before coming to the Bears. 

Rookie sixth-round picks like Kramer, Ebner and Thomas are virtually never locks but tend to receive benefit of the doubt. Expanded practice squads since the pandemic started can sway teams to retain sixth-rounders on the regular roster because now they are able to stash more veterans on practice squads than under old rules. Stashing a sixth-rounder there instead of a veteran is an open invitation to losing a prospect since those players can be claimed by other teams.

The veteran tight ends and Blasingame all are about as close to locks as a player can get without being one. There is no other fullback competing but it's uncertain for now how much of a role offensive coordinator Luke Getsy would have for this position. For the veteran tight ends to be challenged, one of the undrafted tight ends must step up. Although Cal's Jake Tonges showed some flashes in minicamp and OTAs, there hasn't been enough to indicate special skills.

As for Scales, whenever you're 34 years old at any position except starting QB, and there is another player on the roster who plays your spot—as is the case with TCU rookie Antonio Ortz—nothing is certain until final cuts. Gill is the only punter in camp but definitely no roster lock. Seventh-round punters are only slightly better situated for jobs than the next day's potential waiver wire acquisition.

Blackson played tackle with defensive starters through almost all of OTAs and the minicamps but is now going to have a challenger in recently signed Mike Pennel. Second-year backup nose Khyiris Tonga is still on the roster, as well. So it's too soon to classify Blackson for a bump up to lock, especially considering his lack of experience in 4-3 schemes.

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CB Kindle Vildor, CB Thomas Graham Jr., CB Tavon Young, DT Angelo Blackson.

OFFENSE

G Ja'Tyre Carter, WR Equanimeous St. Brown.

DEFENSE

CB Kindle Vildor, CB Thomas Graham Jr., CB Tavon Young, DT Angelo Blackson.

The Why: All of these players performed well at times in OTAs and minicamp and it would appear to have shots at taking roster spots. However, they haven't yet done enough to make it into near-lock status.

Keep on battling is the best advice for them.

Carter is a seventh-round pick and seventh-rounders rate only around a 50-50 shot with the Bears for surviving their initial final roster cuts in recent years.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven