Chicago Bears: Edwin Williams
Webb entered the offseason as the starter at right tackle, and stayed in that spot through the early part of training camp. Then, after the preseason opener at Carolina, the club demoted Webb to the second team behind rookie fifth-round pick Jordan Mills.
The demotion put Webb in competition for a backup role with veterans Jonathan Scott and Eben Britton. A five-year veteran, Britton has 30 games of starting experience on his résumé, but also possesses more versatility than Webb because of his ability to kick inside to guard and center. Scott hasn’t played all preseason, and recently underwent a procedure on his knee. But the team is confident that even a dinged-up Scott is more reliable than a fully healthy Webb.
Webb possesses the physical skillset to be a starter in the NFL for several years, but lacks motivation and passion, which is a no-no for general manager Phil Emery and the new coaching regime. The new staff worked diligently to coax out the best in Webb, but couldn’t do it consistently enough for the team to feel confident in the three-year veteran, even as a backup.
Good outing, bad result: Quarterback Jordan Palmer performed well in the preseason finale against Cleveland despite little preparation after signing as an injury replacement for Matt Blanchard. But a 64.7 completion percent and a passer rating of 102.8 with a touchdown pass in his preseason debut wasn’t good enough to keep the Bears from cutting Palmer.
A big part of that was the team’s reported desire to sign a third quarterback with practice-squad eligibility. Palmer doesn’t have any practice-squad eligibility remaining.
What’s next: With the 53-man roster finalized, the Bears will start to build their practice squad. If the club wants to bring back some of the players it cut, it will have to wait until they clear waivers. The Bears will likely be looking to add a few players cut from other teams to their practice squad, too.
Bears cuts: QB: Trent Edwards, Jordan Palmer. RB: Armando Allen. OG: Dennis Temple, Edwin Williams. LB:Jerry Franklin, J.T. Thomas. WR: Brittan Golden, Terrence Toliver, Josh Lenz. OT:J'Marcus Webb, Cory Brandon. DT:Corvey Irvin, Christian Tupou. S:Tom Nelson, Brandon Hardin. LS: Brandon Hartson. CB: Demontre Hurst. TE:Fendi Onobun. FB: Harvey Unga. DE: Aston Whiteside, Josh Williams.
Note: Brandon and Irvin received injury settlements. Hardin was waived/injured, which means if he clears waivers, he’ll revert to Chicago’s injured reserve.
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
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.
Things went bad for Webb quickly after he entered the game. The former starter got called for holding on the Bears’ third offensive play of the third quarter, then later in the fourth quarter Webb committed a false start. Not exactly the kind of performance Webb needed two weeks after being demoted to the second-team and losing his right tackle job to rookie Jordan Mills.
Webb’s issues occurred a couple of hours after Scott worked out with the training staff on the field pregame, fueling speculation that he could return from a knee procedure sometime next week, and perhaps be healthy enough to play in the Bears’ preseason finale Thursday versus the Cleveland Browns.
“I’m encouraged,” Bears head coach Marc Trestman said. “I know he worked out tonight but I haven’t talked to the trainers about that. But we’re encouraged by what’s going on with the guys that have (had) medical attention.”
Scott, a seven-year veteran, started seven games for the Bears last year after joining the club in September. Scott, Webb, Eben Britton, Taylor Boggs and Edwin Williams are all fighting to earn a spot on the 53-man roster while James Brown is secure as the swing guard. It’s unclear how many offensive linemen the Bears plan to keep, but offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said last week the number could be eight.
If that happens, Webb could be a casualty just one year after starting all 16 games for the Bears at left tackle.
Carimi missed OTA sessions on Monday and Tuesday, the first two workouts of 10 league-mandated OTAs, and was the only player on the team eligible to attend who did not.
"This is a voluntary situation, and every player has to make his own decisions," Emery told Sirius XM NFL Radio. "Gabe has made a decision. He wants to stay in Arizona and train. We respect that, and we'll welcome (him) with open arms when he comes back."
- Quarterback Jay Cutler said during his ESPN 1000 radio show that his stiff neck shouldn't keep him out of next Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers. Cutler allowed the Vikings to set the tone with a pass rush that prevented him from finding a rhythm. He completed only one of eight passes against the Vikings' blitz for eight yards, according to ESPN's Stats & Information. And Sunday might have been one of the few occasions when Cutler has forced the ball too often to receiver Brandon Marshall. Cutler (14) and backup Jason Campbell (one) threw 15 passes to Marshall that traveled at least 10 yards in the air. That was the highest total in one game for a wide receiver in at least the past five years. Cutler completed only two of seven such throws in the second half, one of which was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Vikings safety Harrison Smith, and the Bears couldn't close the gap created by an early deficit.ESPN.com
- Running back Michael Bush only got two snaps because of a recurring rib injury that had left him questionable for the game. That is one of an inordinate amount of injuries the Bears are dealing with for their key people. Cutler might miss some practice time this week. Bush obviously had a setback. Receiver Earl Bennett is trying to come back from a concussion. Linebacker Brian Urlacher has a hamstring injury that could keep him off the field for the rest of the regular season. The same goes for cornerback Tim Jennings' shoulder injury. Place-kicker Robbie Gould's calf strain might necessitate reinforcements. Rookie defensive end Shea McClellin suffered a knee injury Sunday that prevented his return. Two of the Bears' best special teams players, Craig Steltz and Sherrick McManis, left Sunday's game because of chest and knee injuries, respectively. That's a long list of ailments for a team that needs to win at least two of its last three games, and perhaps all of them, to make the playoffs.
- The Bears rotated Edwin Williams and James Brown at left guard, with Brown actually getting more snaps (42) than Williams (36). Offensive coordinator Mike Tice has spoken highly of Brown since training camp, and you wonder if he is considering using Brown as a starter as Chris Spencer deals with a knee injury. Brown is an undrafted rookie and the Bears have already used five different starting guards this season, but his sudden entrance into the game Sunday was worth noting.
Earlier this season, we noted the Bears hadn't established an offensive identity. Other than Cutler's connection to Marshall, it wasn't easy to come up with a long list of things the Bears do well offensively. After Week 14, that's still the case. They rank No. 18 in the NFL in yards per carry (4.2), No. 27 in passing yards per game and No. 28 in scoring. At the end of this season, whenever that comes, we'll have to ask whether the Bears' preseason plan to mesh their former scheme, Tice's philosophies and the ideas of quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates all into one offense was too complicated a task.
Perhaps that's why Bears quarterback Jay Cutler didn't hesitate when stating what needs to take place Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks in order for the offensive line to experience success.
"We've just got to be careful of what we ask those guys to do, make sure they're on the same page, (and) protect them," Cutler said. "You don't want to throw a lot of sevens (seven-step drops) and chuck the ball 40-50 times. They're not programmed for it. They're in new positions. Some guys haven't even played guard. We've just got to be smart with it."
Allen told reporters that he thought it was a legal hit, but Bears coach Lovie Smith was among those who fell short of agreeing with him.
"Jared Allen plays the game a certain way," Smith said Monday. "[He is] a good player in our league. I think there are some plays when you look at them again, you say, 'Hey, we could have done without that.' I think our game could do without that play. We have an injured player right now based on it. I think he could have gotten blocked a little bit differently."
The NFL will review Allen's hit and determine whether it deserves a fine or other discipline. We probably won't hear anything until Wednesday at the earliest on that. Officials did not call a penalty on the play, but for those interested, here is how Rule 12, Section 7 (b3) reads in the 2012 NFL rule book:
Prohibited contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture is: Illegally launching into a defenseless opponent. It is an illegal launch if a player (1) leaves both feet prior to contact to spring forward and upward into his opponent, and (2) uses any part of his helmet (including the top/crown and forehead/”hairline” parts) to initiate forcible contact against any part of his opponent’s body. Note: The provisions of (2) do not prohibit incidental contact by the mask or helmet in the course of a conventional tackle or block on an opponent.
One of the definitions of "defenseless opponent" is: "A player who receives a 'blindside' block when the blocker is moving toward or parallel to his own end line and approaches the opponent from behind or from the side."
Meanwhile, the Bears will have to decide how to replace Louis, who has been their most consistent lineman this season and was in line for a contract extension in the coming months.
Backup Edwin Williams could take his place if left guard Chris Spencer is healthy enough to play Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. Another option is Gabe Carimi, the Bears' onetime starter at right tackle who did a decent job in an emergency situation at guard Sunday.
Regardless, the Bears have now lost two starting guards -- Louis and Chilo Rachal, who left the team -- in a matter of a week. Stay tuned.
Declared out earlier in the week because of a fracture in his hand, rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery was the most notable of the group that included defensive tackle Matt Toeaina, cornerback Sherrick McManis (hip), offensive lineman Edwin Williams, tight end Brody Eldridge, defensive tackle Nate Collins and defensive end Cheta Ozougwu.
The team's leading tackler on special teams, McManis practiced in a limited capacity all week but apparently didn't recover sufficiently enough for the Bears to feel comfortable with putting him out on the field.
Toeaina, meanwhile, made the team's active roster during an Oct. 7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars for the first time since Week 1, but it's likely he was activated because of his run-stopping prowess with the Bears expected to receive a heavy dose of Maurice Jones-Drew. Apparently the rushing attack of the Lions doesn't pose the same threat to the Bears.
Inactives for the Lions include quarterback Kellen Moore, cornerbacks Jacob Lacey and Bill Bentley, and running back Kevin Smith, in addition to offensive tackles Jason Fox and Corey Hilliard and defensive end Ronnell Lewis.
Detroit announced that second-year defensive tackle Nick Fairley will make his second consecutive start in place of Corey Williams, who missed practice on Saturday, but is among the team's actives. Rookie Jonte Green will start in place of Jacob Lacey, who continues to recover from a concussion.
No surprise players made the list, but the club did designate receiver Dane Sanzenbacher among the inactives along with punter Ryan Quigley, safety Jeremy Jones, guard Edwin Williams, defensive tackle Amobi Okoye and defensive end Cheta Ozougwu. The team's decision to make Quigley a scratch means that Adam Podlesh has recovered sufficiently enough from a hip flexor injury to punt against the Colts.
The club also announced that second-year defensive tackle Stephen Paea will start over veteran Matt Toeaina.
Indianapolis Colts inactives include: former Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish, receiver Austin Collie, running back Delone Carter, linebacker Pat Angerer, offensive tackle Mike Person, and guard Joe Reitz.
Collie’s inactivity could be a blow to the Colts’ offense. He’s still recovering from his third diagnosed concussion since 2010.
The Chicago Bears wrapped up their three-day minicamp Thursday at Halas Hall, and here are some quick observations from the final session:
• Charles Tillman demonstrated his takeaway skills for the second consecutive day against the same victim: tight end Kellen Davis. Tillman pulled a ball out of Davis' hands and sprinted towards the end zone just as a Jay Cutler's pass hit the tight end’s chest during team drills. More impressive is that as Cutler barked out the cadence, Tillman told the defense exactly where the ball would be going on the play.
• He might not make the Bears' roster or any other NFL roster for that matter, but we’re giving the Thomas Jones “Big Guns” award to tight end Draylen Ross. Ross originally signed with the Bears in 2011 as an undrafted free agent out of the University of North Texas, and faces long odds to make the team. Based the size of his arms, perhaps he’s got a future in body building if football doesn’t work out.
• Rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery continued his inactivity in the final day of minicamp. Limited over the last two workouts with a lower-leg injury, Jeffery didn’t participate in any portions of the Thursday session at Halas Hall. Jeffery’s injury isn’t believed to be serious.
• Veteran tight end Matt Spaeth spent Thursday rehabilitating his sore hamstring during the workout with athletic trainer Bobby Slater.
• With Spaeth out, the Bears worked Kyle Adams and Davis with the starters in double tight end sets.
• Edwin Williams took reps with the second team at center.
• Rookie Greg McCoy took reps with the second team opposite veteran Kelvin Hayden. McCoy hasn’t necessarily moved up the depth chart. It’s likely the rookie received those repetitions because the team held out Wilhite.
• The Bears worked out two more tryout players on the final day of minicamp. The club brought in a pair of cornerbacks in Jeremy Ware, a former Michigan State standout drafted in the seventh round of 2010 by the Oakland Raiders, and Cornelius Brown, who signed with the Bears in 2010 as a rookie free agent.