Chicago Bears: 2013 preseason

Bears begin to trim roster to 53

August, 30, 2013
Here is a list of the Chicago Bears’ confirmed cuts as of Friday afternoon:

OT J’Marcus Webb
QB Jordan Palmer
S Brandon Hardin
S Tom Nelson
OL Edwin Williams
WR Josh Lenz
LB Jerry Franklin
WR Brittan Golden
LS Brandon Hartson
QB Trent Edwards
OL Derek Dennis
RB Armando Allen
TE Fendi Onobun
DE Josh Williams
DE Aston Whiteside
FB Harvey Unga
DT Christian Tupou
CB Demontre Hurst

**According to a source, Hardin suffered a fractured scapula versus the Cleveland Browns Thursday night and will be technically listed as waived/injured. If Hardin passes through waivers unclaimed, he will revert back to the Bears' injured reserve.

**Offensive tackle Cory Brandon was carted off the field last night with a serious left leg injury that reportedly will require surgery. Brandon and Hardin's names did not appear on the official list of Bears'cuts the team distributed around 2:20 Friday afternoon, but neither will be on the Week 1 53-man roster.

Bears release QB Jordan Palmer

August, 30, 2013
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bears have informed veteran quarterback Jordan Palmer that he will be released prior to the deadline for NFL teams to establish their 53-man roster, Palmer announced Friday morning on his official Twitter account (@JwPalms).

“I really appreciate all the kind words from the #Bears fans but I'm headed home today,” Palmer wrote. “Crazy biz but appreciative.”

Palmer had a strong first-half performance Thursday against Cleveland when he completed 11-of-17 passes for 111 yards and one touchdown, for a passer rating of 102.8. Chicago receivers also dropped at least three throws that would have otherwise resulted in completions.

Bears head coach Marc Trestman praised Palmer following the game. The Bears signed both Palmer and fellow quarterback Trent Edwards after second-year QB Matt Blanchard fractured his left hand in the club’s second preseason game. The Bears and Blanchard later reached an injury settlement.

“It says a lot about his preparation,” Trestman said. “He came in here; he dug in; he has learned a lot of the offense and spent a lot of time, on his own, trying to assimilate all of it. I’m happy for him that he came out and played very efficiently for us.”

It’s possible the Bears could turn to Palmer later in the regular season if the team suffers an injury to either starting quarterback Jay Cutler or No. 2 Josh McCown.

Edwards replaced Palmer in the second half and went 10-of-17 for 135 yards and tossed an interception that went through the hands of tight end Fendi Onobun and returned for a touchdown by the Cleveland defense.

The Bears could be leaning toward keeping just two quarterbacks on the Week 1 active roster and signing a quarterback to its practice squad.

In other news, the Bears also informed wide receivers Brittan Golden, Josh Lenz, safety Tom Nelson, former third-round pick safety Brandon Hardin and offensive guard/center Edwin Williams of their release Friday.

NFL teams have until 5 p.m. CT on Saturday to trim the roster to 53, but the Bears are expected to make the majority of their roster moves on Friday.

Bears' offensive starters vs. Cleveland

August, 29, 2013
CHICAGO – Offensive starters for the Chicago Bears in tonight’s preseason finale against the Cleveland Browns:

WR – Joe Anderson
LT – Cory Brandon
LG – Edwin Williams
C – Taylor Boggs
RG – Derek Dennis
RT – J’Marcus Webb
TE – Kyle Adams
HB - Fendi Onobun
WR – Terrence Toliver
QB – Jordan Palmer
RB – Armando Allen

Bears roster battles to watch vs. Browns

August, 29, 2013
Here are three positional battles to monitor heading into the Chicago Bears’ preseason finale versus the Cleveland Browns:

1. Running back: Undrafted rookie Michael Ford is making a strong push to grab one of the final spots on the 53-man roster after returning a kickoff 100 yards in the second preseason game against San Diego, then following up that performance with 58 rushing yards and a touchdown on nine carries last week in Oakland. If the Bears decide to keep just three tailbacks, it means either Ford or veteran Armando Allen has to go. Allen played well last season for the Bears, appearing in 15 games and recording seven special-teams tackles. But Allen has been working his way back from an injury the past couple weeks, which has opened the door for the less expensive rookie out of LSU to showcase himself in these preseason games. Both figure to receive ample playing time tonight at Soldier Field.

2. Quarterback: The Bears’ offense is entirely in the hands of veteran quarterbacks Jordan Palmer and Trent Edwards after Bears head coach Marc Trestman announced last week that starter Jay Cutler and No. 2 Josh McCown would not see the field in the final preseason contest. If the Bears open the season with three quarterbacks, and that is still an if, the final spot could be determined by which of the two reserves has a better game against the Browns, plus what each accomplished on the practice field the past two weeks. The Bears got a brief look at just Palmer last week in the fourth quarter (1-for-1, five yards), but both quarterbacks will get an extended look tonight. Even if the Bears decide to go with just two quarterbacks to start the year, the team might still find themselves in need of another QB later in the season -- that’s why this is still an important game for Palmer and Edwards, regardless.

3. Offensive line: If the Bears retain eight offensive linemen, as offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer hinted earlier in training camp, then two spots might still be available. That means Jonathan Scott, Eben Britton, J’Marcus Webb and Taylor Boggs are probably the guys still alive to make the team, although sometimes these calls are already made before the final preseason game. Scott has actually pulled off the rare feat of improving his position on the team despite missing the past several weeks with a knee injury that required a procedure to clean it out. That’s because Webb has continued to struggle ever since being demoted to second-team left tackle. Webb is a mystery. He has all the physical gifts, but his inconsistency coupled with his strange behavior and apparent lack of passion toward the game, makes him a strong candidate to get cut. If Scott’s knee is OK for Week 1, then it might make sense to just keep him and Britton, try and sneak Boggs on the practice squad, and send Webb on his merry way. But if Webb wants to make one final stand, he better make the most his opportunities tonight.

Cutler at solid starting point with game plan

August, 27, 2013
Jay CutlerAP Photo/Ben MargotJay Cutler and the Bears will tweak their new offense as the season progresses.

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was not shy about admitting Tuesday that he might not know the breadth of the team’s new offense by the end of the season, much less the start.

“It will extend to Week 15,” Cutler said of the learning curve. “It’s going to be a process throughout the entire year of us staying on top of things and knowing exactly what (coach Marc Trestman) wants us to do out there. It’s a week-by-week thing. It’s never going to be perfect.”

Cutler isn’t just an experienced NFL quarterback, he is also a veteran of learning new offenses. And it’s quite possible that Cutler has never fully grasped the full scope of any of the offenses he has been required to learn before moving on to the next.

Despite what he doesn’t know by the season opener, though, that shouldn’t mean the Bears will be limited offensively when they take the field Sept. 8 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

(Read full post)

Bears cut Blanchard to get to 75

August, 27, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears whittled to the 75-man roster limit Tuesday by finalizing an injury settlement with quarterback Matt Blanchard.

A second-year veteran, Blanchard fractured a knuckle on his left hand during the team’s win over the San Diego Chargers. Prior to the injury, it appeared likely the Bears would try to keep Blanchard on the 53-man roster or waive him in final cuts with the expectation of adding him to the practice squad.

The problem is there’s no way a team can release an injured player without reaching a settlement.

“I’m just disappointed he was injured. I really liked his progress. I think we resonated that through the times we’ve talked here,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “I think everybody has an idea how we felt about Matt while he was here.”

Blanchard’s settlement makes him ineligible to return to the Bears until after Week 10. After the timeframe for the settlement expires, Blanchard can sign with another team. So it’s likely the quarterback would sign with another club after the length of the settlement -- which is commensurate with the time a player is expected to be out due to the injury -- has expired because he can’t rejoin the Bears until 2 1/2 months into the season.

In making the decision, Trestman said he hasn’t “even thought about” the timeframe for Blanchard’s recovery, adding that “we’ll just see how it goes as we move forward.”

When the team hit the practice field for the portion of Monday’s workout that the media is allowed to view, Blanchard wasn’t out on the field with the rest of his teammates. With the team going into the final exhibition game Thursday not expecting to play any of its starters, it’s likely the team would have played Blanchard for a significant amount of repetitions.

Instead, the Bears will divvy up the snaps to recently-signed quarterbacks Jordan Palmer and Trent Edwards, with the former set to start.

“They’re both really smart guys and knowledgeable. They’ve practiced well,” Trestman said. “I expect that they’re gonna do well.”

Blanchard spent the majority of the 2012 season on the practice squad.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Middle linebacker D.J. Williams returned to practice on Tuesday for the first time since suffering a July 31 right calf injury, but the club’s plan for him moving forward is murky with the starters not expected to play Thursday in the preseason finale and the regular-season opener nearly two weeks away.

Williams didn’t participate fully in practice.

“But he’s getting more work,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said.

Williams took part Monday in pre-practice stretching, and has also spent some time running. But Trestman said Monday that Williams’ conditioning could be an issue for the opener. So there’s a chance the team could opt to hold out Williams in favor of rookie second-round pick Jon Bostic, who has filled in as the starting middle linebacker.

“I couldn’t answer that question,” Trestman said when asked whether Williams would be ready for the opener. “Each and every day he gets a little better, and we’ll know a lot more at the beginning of next week. He’s got four or five days before our first day of practice on Monday. So we’ll see how it is at that point in time. I can’t answer the question other than there’s improvement there. Talking to him, he’s certainly positive that he can be ready. Players are always that way. They are, and they should be. We’ll see. I’m encouraged, but we don’t know at this time.”

The Bears signed Williams to a one-year contract in March worth $900,000 as the replacement at middle linebacker for Brian Urlacher, and drafted Bostic as the future at the position.

But Williams’ calf injury pushed Bostic into the starting spot, and the rookie has turned heads with big hits and game-changing plays such as his interception return for a touchdown in the exhibition opener at Carolina.

Still, Trestman wasn’t ready on Monday to declare Bostic the starter.

“Well, I am not going to use that term ‘starting middle linebacker,’” Trestman said. “(Bostic) has started in the last couple games, and I think he has continued to grow and get better, and shown he can be a very good player in this league. He is fitting in and if he happens to be the guy who is that guy on Game 1 or Game 2 or whatever it is, I think he can grow into the position and be a more than sufficient middle linebacker in this league.”

With Williams still technically a starter, it’s unlikely the Bears would place him in harm’s way by giving him snaps Thursday against the Cleveland Browns. Given that Williams has missed virtually all of training camp and the preseason, he won’t have any way to compete with Bostic for the starting job.

Perhaps Williams’ long track record in the NFL is sufficient enough for the staff. Before joining the Bears, Williams played in 127 games for the Denver Broncos with 115 starts and has posted 886 tackles (673 solo) to go with 20.5 sacks, two interceptions, 14 forced fumbles and seven recoveries. Throughout his career, Williams has posted five 100-tackle seasons.

“There’s always competition. It’s compete to play, compete to stay,” Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. “So there’s nothing ever set in stone. You’re only as good as your next play. That’s what we preach to the guys. So every time out is important. Every practice is important, every meeting, every rep that we take in a game. It all means something.”

In other injury news, the Bears practiced Tuesday without offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (knee), defensive tackle Corvey Irvin (ankle), cornerback Zack Bowman (hamstring), and running back Harvey Unga (undisclosed).

The team also held out defensive tackle Henry Melton and receiver Earl Bennett, who continue to go through the concussion protocol. Melton and Bennett took part in pre-practice stretches with teammates, and they’re also working on physical conditioning.

Trestman believed that Tuesday marked the first time Bennett had run since suffering the concussion.

“Earl and Henry both got running in today,” he said.

BE: Could QB Blanchard be next man out?

August, 27, 2013
First off, shoutouts to all the good folks that sent in emails and tweets suggesting a name for our new feature that, every morning, will take a quick trip through the most pertinent Chicago Bears headlines.

After spending the day reading all the emails and tweets, I decided on Bear Essentials as the name of this feature. Why? Because it’s so simple, and I sort of dig the brevity of the acronym BE. While I know Bear Essentials might sound like a shampoo, lotion or other cosmetic, hey, we're all about cleanliness and grooming. So thanks everyone for all the great suggestions. Let's also give props to the Packers fan that sent an email wanting the feature to be called Bear Droppings. That was kind of funny.

Anyway, let’s get to it.

-- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune examines the possibility of the Bears parting ways with quarterback Matt Blanchard by the NFL’s 3 p.m. deadline to cut the roster down to 75 players. With the current roster sitting at 76, it’s a definite possibility given that the broken knuckle on Blanchard’s left hand is expected to keep him out approximately a month. So the Bears might look to clear the quarterback’s spot by giving him an injury settlement.

If Blanchard takes an injury settlement, he won’t be able to come back to the team until after Week 10, which Biggs points out could also create the possibility of the quarterback signing with another team after he regains health and the time frame (which is commensurate to the time he’s expected to miss) for the settlement has passed.

For Blanchard to have stuck around as long as he has, the coaching staff and personnel department definitely sees something worth developing. Given Blanchard’s likely recovery timeframe, he could possibly be healthy enough to return by Week 3. And I’m not convinced the team has seen enough from new signees Jordan Palmer, who will start Thursday night, and Trent Edwards to give up so soon on Blanchard.

Going back to my former life covering a different NFL team, I remember a head coach telling me that once a player took an injury settlement, “he could never play for me again.” Hopefully this isn’t the case with Blanchard and the Bears. We’ll see soon enough though.

-- Adam Jahns of the Sun-Times takes a look at Marc Trestman’s staff of head coaches in waiting.

-- Tom Musick of Shaw Media relieves the baseball past of Bears rookie Kyle Long. Man, it’s hard to imagine a dude as big as Long hurling a fastball at you.

-- Rick Morrissey has an interesting take on former Bear Brian Urlacher’s new career in the media. For the record, Urlacher was pretty decent to me during our interactions. In fact, during one our first conversations, he sat down with me for about 20 minutes for an interview for a story on his return from a pretty significant wrist injury suffered in 2009. Then, we spent the other 20 minutes or so getting to know one another, and this was right in the midst of training camp in 2010. Urlacher seemed thoughtful, funny and engaging, not to mention genuinely interested in the conversation (which wasn’t about football) at hand.

Once Urlacher would get in front of a large group of reporters, though, everything would change. I don’t think Urlacher truly disliked all of the media. He seemed to like some more than others, sure. I just don’t think he was ever comfortable speaking in those big news conference settings.

That’s true of lots of players around the NFL.

Bennett has 'heart-to-heart' with Onobun

August, 26, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Martellus Bennett picked up the phone shortly after the team’s 6 a.m. arrival Saturday from the trip to Oakland, Calif., and called fellow tight end Fendi Onobun, who was feeling down after dropping what should have been a touchdown during Chicago’s 34-26 win over the Raiders.

“I told him, ‘Come by the crib,’” Bennett explained.

Once Onobun arrived, he and Bennett sat on a couch for four hours engaged in what the veteran tight end described as a “heart-to-heart” conversation.

“I was just telling him that I think he just gets to the point where he just thinks football, football, football,” Bennett said. “But you can lose yourself. Football is not who we are; it’s what we do. Sometimes, when it becomes who you are, you kind of lose yourself. Every little thing that goes wrong with it, it affects you in a major way instead of (you) being able to deal with the adversity. Bad stuff happens in football. You’re going to have the drops.”

In Onobun’s case, he suffered two against the Raiders, including a first-quarter drop from Jay Cutler that should have gone for a 26-yard touchdown.

“I don’t want to say (he was) too rattled,” Bennett said. “It’s just one of those things like you go out there, you work so hard every single day. He stays after (practice) catching the ball. He wants to do so well. You want to do so well. (When) things don’t go the way you want it to go, it affects him to another level than it does other guys.”

Bennett should know a little more about Onobun than most. The two were basketball teammates at Alief Taylor High School in Houston. Onobun never played high school football, and spent four years at Arizona as a basketball player before transferring to Houston to play football for one season. At Houston, Onobun caught two passes. But the St. Louis Rams still used a sixth-round pick to select him in the 2010 draft. Since then, Onobun has spent time with a total of six NFL teams.

“Fendi Onobun has had a very good camp, and has been uncharacteristically inconsistent in the games,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “We have seen in the games. For those of you that have been to practice, you’ve seen things in practice that we haven’t seen in the games. Does that mean we’ve lost confidence? No. We’ve got to continue to have him work through it. This is really his first year of football and he’s shown the ability to do it. He’s just got to work through this phase when he gets under the lights (so) that he can continue to play as consistently, and I think he can do that down the road.”

But why hasn’t he?

“I can’t speak for that,” Trestman said. “I just think it’s the next stage in his development. We’re all pulling for him both in the locker room and on the field that he will continue to progress and get through this little batting slump he has been (going through) during the games that we really haven’t seen during practice.”

That’s why Bennett sat down Onobun on “this nice black leather couch” the veteran described as “straight from Italy, not American made."

While it’s possible Onobun might be overthinking the game, in part because of his background in basketball, Bennett downplayed that theory.

“We just sat down. We talked hours and hours, not just (about) football, but life in general,” Bennett said. “I told him, ‘Don’t let people use (your basketball background) as an excuse for you. You’ve been bouncing around the league a couple of years now. You can’t use that as a crutch. You’re a smart guy, graduated college.’ I didn’t graduate college, but he’s not smarter than me. He’s a smart guy. He gets it. But just letting your body do the work and not your mind, that’s what football is about.”

Melton, Bennett still out

August, 26, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears returned to the field to resume workouts Monday, but continued to hold out defensive tackle Henry Melton and receiver Earl Bennett as the duo works through the steps of the concussion protocol to return to the field.

Melton and Bennett attended the session inside the Walter Payton Center during the portion of practice open to the media, but it appears neither has been cleared to return to activity. Considering the starters aren’t likely to play much, if any, during the preseason finale against Cleveland on Thursday, there’s no rush for Melton and Bennett to return to the field.

“Henry is into (the) running (phase of the concussion protocol). Earl is day-to-day. I know (Bennett) was with some of the medical people this morning, I haven’t checked," Trestman said. "Henry ran today. He’s going to run tomorrow and Wednesday and pick up that running significantly. That’s where he is at this point."

The Bears have already begun preparations for the regular-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 8, and the week leading into that outing would seem to be the target date for Melton and Bennett to rejoin the team for workouts.

As the club’s franchise player, Melton has already solidified his status as a starter. Bennett, meanwhile, is competing with Joe Anderson, Eric Weems, Terrence Toliver and rookie Marquess Wilson for one of the receiver spots behind Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Bennett hasn’t practiced with the team since suffering the concussion on Aug. 3 at Soldier Field after a hard hit from safety Chris Conte.

Melton suffered his concussion in the first game of the preseason at Carolina.

In other injury news, the team held out quarterback Matt Blanchard (hand), linebacker D.J. Williams (calf), offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (knee), defensive tackle (Corvey Irvin) (ankle), cornerback Zack Bowman (hamstring) and linebacker J.T. Thomas (hamstring).

The projected starter at middle linebacker, Williams hasn't yet played in a preseason game, but he's into the running phase of his rehabilitation.

"If you saw him at the (Oakland) game, he was out working at the game," Trestman said. "He's day-to-day, but we'll see where it goes. We're optimistic he's gonna be close (to fully healthy by opening day). It's still day-to-day, but there is progress."

With Williams out of action, rookie second-round pick Jonathan Bostic has filled in at middle linebacker and put together some solid performances throughout the preseason. Still, Trestman wasn't ready to declare Bostic the starter in the middle.

"I am not going to use that term "starting middle linebacker,"" Trestman said. "He has started in the last couple games, and I think he has continued to grow and get better, and (has) shown he can be a very good player in this league. I think he's getting better. He is fitting in. If he happens to be the guy who is that guy Game 1 or Game 2, or whatever it is, I think he can grow into the position and be a more than sufficient middle linebacker in this league."

In other news, fullback Harvey Unga (ribs), defensive end Cheta Ozougwu (hamstring), and long snapper Patrick Mannelly returned to the practice field Monday after missing last week’s game at Oakland.

#NFLRank: Matt Forte sits at No. 48

August, 26, 2013

Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte on Monday made the latest installment of ESPN's NFL Rank project, which lists the top 100 offensive and defensive players in the league heading into this season.

Forte enters his sixth season in 2013, and ranked No. 48 among offensive players headed into this year, one spot behind Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (No. 47) and Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (46).

ESPN Stats & Information said this about Forte:

“Since entering the league in2008, Forte has 15 100-yard rushing games. The Bears are 14-1 in those games. Of the 19 running backs with at least 10 100-yard games over that span, Forte’s 14-1 record is the best.”

That’s not a surprise, considering the brand of football the Bears play, which is highlighted by a stifling, turnover-producing defense that allows the team to play keep-away.

Football Outsiders said: “Matt Forte’s struggles at the goal line, and shaky O-line has held him back a bit.”

I agree with the second part of that sentence, but disagree with the first part. Statistically, the numbers definitely indicate Forte has struggled from the goal line in the past. But I don’t think he’s a guy that can’t get it done on the goal line.

Forte provided proof of that against the San Diego Chargers on Aug. 15. From the 11-yard line, the Bears handed to Forte on three consecutive snaps, and the running back gained a total of 8 yards on back-to-back plays, before capping the drive with a 3-yard burst.

Obviously, the offensive line is a little better now with all the moves the Bears made through free agency and the draft. But credit also goes to Bears coach Marc Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, who have implemented zone-blocking schemes, which allow Forte to pick his own holes.

With the new blocking schemes in place, my guess is Forte will eventually shed his reputation as a poor producer on the goal line.

A quick trip through Bears headlines

August, 26, 2013
As of right now, there’s no clever name to call this feature. The hope was to find something cool like colleague Kevin Seifert’s "Black and Blue All Over" staple on the NFC North blog, but nothing comes to mind right now.

So let’s keep this thing unnamed until we find something we can deal with on a day-to-day basis. Obviously, this is an attempt to get input from you guys on our daily look at the headlines involving the Chicago Bears. We want this to be a one-stop shop every day where you guys can take in a nice-sized sampling of Bears news. “Bear bites?” “Bear of a breakfast?” See what I mean? I’ve got nothing.

Anyway, let’s go.

--’s John “Moon” Mullins ponders whether this year’s preseason performance by the Bears has provided less perspective on where they are than other seasons. Mullins takes it back to 2012 to explain his point, writing: “The four preseason Bears opponents -- Carolina, San Diego, Oakland, Cleveland -- all had losing records in 2012. The Chargers and Browns fired coaches after the season; the Panthers and Raiders could after this one unless fortunes change.”

“Doubters didn’t trust the 7-1 start last season because of the quality of opponent. Trusting the positives this preseason might be viewed through the same prism.”

I tend to agree with Moon here, but not solely because of Chicago’s bad preseason opponents. I keep going back to the fact that Jay Cutler is in a contract year, playing in his fourth offense in five seasons with a new head coach in Marc Trestman, not to mention a couple of potentially explosive personalities to manage in receiver Brandon Marshall and tight end Martellus Bennett. Everything’s good now between Cutler, Bennett and Marshall. But what happens when those guys aren’t getting the ball and the Bears aren’t successful on offense? After all, they'll face some adversity.

It’s also natural to be concerned about the right side of the line, where the Bears will likely go into the regular season with a pair of rookies in Kyle Long and Jordan Mills. Sure, they’ve played solid football throughout the preseason. But inevitably, those rookies will face some adversity. How will they bounce back, and how will Cutler handle that?

-- Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times takes a look at some of the blitzes the Bears employed against the Raiders.

-- The Chicago Tribune’s Fred Mitchell says the Bears showed a sliver of their potential against the Raiders. Basically for the Bears on defense, nothing has changed.

-- Adam Jahns of the Sun-Times takes a position-by-position look at some of the battles for final roster spots.


Bears early cuts done as courtesy

August, 25, 2013
CHICAGO -- The Bears released veteran safety Tom Zbikowski on Sunday, and the team also parted ways with veteran defensive end Kyle Moore.

In all, the club cut 14 players which moves the roster to 76. The moves came two days before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET NFL deadline for teams to trim their rosters to 75 players, and as often is the case around the league, done as a courtesy for players to give them the best possible chance to find work with another team as soon as possible.

Other cuts included receiver Devin Aromashodu, running back Curtis Brinkley, defensive tackles Brent Russell and Eric Foster, offensive tackle A.J. Lindeman, center P.J. Lonergan, safety Derrick Martin, tight ends Gabe Miller and Leonard Pope, linebackers Patrick Trahan and Lawrence Wilson, and punter Tress Way.

With one cut remaining, the Bears could wind up releasing another player today or in the next couple of days in advance of Tuesday’s deadline. Teams aren’t required to release players early, but this is done every season as a courtesy for veterans so they can find new work as soon as possible.

Zbikowski came into the league in 2008 as a third-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens, where he played four seasons as a standout on special teams. Zbikowski played in the second half of Chicago’s exhibition win over the Oakland Raiders on Friday, and contributed three tackles. As of early Saturday, at least one general manager had expressed interest in acquiring Zbikowski. The Steelers expressed an interest in free agency, but Zbikowski chose the Bears.

As for Moore, a fourth-round pick of the Buccaneers in 2009, high numbers at defensive end might have contributed to the Bears making the decision to part ways. Moore posted a sack against the Raiders for an 11-yard loss, but he was fighting an uphill battle to win a spot at a position already stocked with players such as Julius Peppers, Corey Wootton, and Shea McClellin. Moore was competing with rookie sixth-round pick Cornelius Washington and veteran Cheta Ozougwu for one of the final spots at the position.

Moore signed for the veteran minimum in April ($715,000) with no signing bonus. The club had already invested $103,788 in a signing bonus for Washington. It’s important to remember that when a team invests money in a player, it will always give him more opportunity to make the roster than a player it didn’t spend to acquire.

In addition to the sack tallied Friday night against the Raiders, Moore had contributed three tackles in three preseason outings, meaning he’s compiled plenty of film for teams to study if they’re interested in acquiring the defensive end.

Tucker dialing up the pressure

August, 24, 2013
OAKLAND, Calif. -- One noticeable trend on defense in the preseason has been Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker's willingness to blitz his defensive backs from all angles of the field.

Tucker dialed up pressure from the defensive backfield in the middle of the first quarter against the Raiders on Friday night when cornerback Charles Tillman fired off the edge, unblocked, to sack Oakland quarterback Matt Flynn for a seven-yard loss.

In the second half, safety Brandon Hardin came free up the middle on a blitz and forced and errant throw that resulted in Bears' interception.

Cornerback and safety blitzes weren't all that common under former head coach Lovie Smith, who seemed to prefer having his nickel backs rush the quarterback from time to time.

But all throughout training camp and the preseason games, the Bears have been experimenting with different blitzes from members of the secondary.

"We're going to mix it up, man," Bears cornerback Tim Jennings said. "Sometimes we are going to blitz and other times we are going to sit back and let our defensive line get after the quarterback. Coach Tucker is putting us in great positions. He's mixing it up, putting us in winnable one-on-one situations. He finds a way to bring one more than they can block.

"This is what the preseason is for. We're trying to figure out what works and what doesn't work."

Forte thriving for Bears in early going

August, 24, 2013
Matt ForteAP Photo/Ben MargotMatt Forte ran for 76 yards and caught a 32-yard TD pass in Friday's win.

OAKLAND, Calif. -- With every attempt, Matt Forte’s confidence grows in his club’s zone-blocking schemes, which allow the running back to showcase some of his best attributes.

Over his past four quarters, Forte has averaged 10.7 yards per attempt, and he finished with 76 yards on six attempts Friday in the Chicago Bears' 34-26 win over the Oakland Raiders.

“What makes the zone blocking good is those linemen get push off the ball,” Forte said. “When they can do that, I can be patient and just sit back and read the blocking. So [while] there’s a place where the play is designed to go, you can just use your vision. If I want to, I can cut it all the way back. Or I can just pick a hole. That’s what makes it so nice.”

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