Bears’ 53-man roster looks strange because it’s a work in progress

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The Bears trimmed 35 players off their active roster Saturday.

It’d be shocking if they didn’t add at least three more to that list on Sunday to make room for waiver additions on perhaps the busiest claim day in modern league history.

The Bears’ roster, as currently constructed, makes little sense. They’re carrying five tight ends, a fullback and only two healthy receivers who aren’t better-known for their special teams prowess.

It looks strange because it’s in mid-construction. GM Ryan Pace knows the Bears need help at critical positions — wide receiver, defensive line and outside linebacker — and will shop from a position of strength.

The Bears have the third waiver position based on their finish last season. They’re the highest team that plays a 3-4 defense, meaning they’ll have the first chance at body types that fit their defensive end position. Jaye Howard, who entered camp as the favorite to fill the Bears’ starting job while he recovered from hip surgery, had his contract terminated Saturday.

The Bears too, will have first dibs on edge rushers deemed too small to play a 4-3 end. They gained at one outside linebacker Saturday when Pernell McPhee was activated from the physically unable to perform list, 36 days after he had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.

Perhaps the team’s most passionate — and the defense’s most expensive —  player, McPhee hasn’t practiced with the team yet. Still, the Bears felt he would able to help sooner than the six-week absence league rules mandate had he stayed on PUP.

Another outside linebacker who was once the Bears’ priciest free-agent signing, Lamarr Houston, was placed on injured reserve after hurting his knee in the preseason finale. He could reach an injury settlement, ending his Bears career.

Look for Pace to focus on finding a receiver. Despite Cam Meredith being placed on IR after suffering a season-ending knee injury, Pace decided to waive preseason standout Tanner Gentry — though the Bears hope the clears waivers and returns to their practice squad.

The Bears could use his youth; they’re only carrying four rookie draft picks after placing guard Jordan Morgan on IR with a shoulder injury. They waived two 2016 draftees, receiver Daniel Braverman and safety DeAndre Houston-Carson.

Pace kept receivers Kevin White and Kendall Wright alongside Markus Wheaton, who hasn’t practiced in full since July 30 because of appendix and pinkie surgeries. The two other receivers on the roster are special teams standouts — Josh Bellamy and Deonte Thompson.

To make room for another receiver, the Bears could trim a tight end from their list of five  — either Daniel Brown or Ben Braunecker, who were kept Saturday — or fullback Michael Burton.

Kicker Roberto Aguayo marked perhaps the team’s best-known, and least surprising, cut; the team is on the hook for $428,000 if no one claims the inaccurate former second-round pick. And two days after Fox gave a tepid endorsement of his chances to make the team, quarterback Mark Sanchez was included on a 53-man roster that’s nowhere close to finished yet.

Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com

 


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