Hoge’s TweetBag: Do The Bears Have A Backup Left Tackle?
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By Adam Hoge
(CBS) Welcome in to the TweetBag, where I’ll answer your Bears questions each week during the regular season.
We’ll start it off this week with some late night breaking news that is, well, interesting. Just one day after waiving tight end Kyle Adams, the Bears re-signed him and terminated the contract of veteran offensive lineman Jonathan Scott, who the Bears were hoping was healthy enough to be their swing-tackle.
Scott missed almost all of training camp with a sore knee. After trying to come back to practice once during camp, Scott was again sidelined and eventually had the knee drained. But despite missing all four preseason games, Scott survived final cuts, beating out J’Marcus Webb, who started all 16 games for the Bears at left tackle a year ago. That’s an indication that the Bears thought the knee would be ready for the regular season, but clearly that’s not the case.
Naturally, this seems like a good place to kickoff the questions:
Scott was limited in practice Monday and the Bears were off Tuesday. They now have eight offensive linemen on the roster, which is what they were originally shooting for anyway. You usually only dress seven offensive linemen on game days.
We won’t get official word on why the move was made until Wednesday afternoon, but the guess here is that Scott’s knee did not respond well to practicing Monday and it was obvious he wouldn’t be playing Sunday. Had Scott, a vested veteran owed $715,000, been on the 53-man roster for Sunday’s opener, the Bears would have owed him his full salary, even if they cut him the next day. By terminating his contract now, they could theoretically re-sign him after Sunday’s game and have the flexibility to cut him later without paying the full amount.
The downside is that the Bears are dangerously thin at tackle, especially on the left side. Eben Britton is the swing-tackle, but he struggled at left tackle in the first preseason game against the Panthers and is more of a right tackle.
This will undoubtedly fuel the ever-growing speculation that Kyle Long will eventually be at left tackle. For now though, the Bears have shown absolutely zero indication that Long will be playing left tackle at any point this season. Things could change in a hurry though if Jermon Bushrod were to get hurt and there were moments in the preseason when Long looked like the best offensive lineman on the team.
They have four tight ends and one fullback now on the 53-man roster. Really though, I’d look at it as two tight ends, two H-backs and one fullback, which actually gives head coach Marc Trestman a lot of flexibility with his personnel groupings and formations. Martellus Bennett is obviously the primary receiving tight end, while Steve Maneri fits the mold as the typical blocking tight end. Dante Rosario and Kyle Adams have a little more versatility as H-backs, while Tony Fiametta is the old school fullback.
Actually, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Rosario is inactive Sunday. It takes time to learn a new system, especially this system, and Kyle Adams has a head start on him there. Eventually though, Rosario could emerge as a sneaky receiving option as an H-back in this offense. He had 10 catches and three touchdowns with the Chargers last season and the Bears were clearly hoping Fendi Onobun would turn into that guy before they were forced to stash him on the practice squad due to inexperience.
That was the first thing that popped in my head when Johnson was signed to the practice squad. Phil Emery called him a “developmental quarterback” Monday, but it also doesn’t hurt to have a guy who can simulate RG3 and Michael Vick in practice. He could also be useful preparing for potential playoff contests against the 49ers (Colin Kaepernick) and Seahawks (Russell Wilson).
Emery has left the door cracked slightly on in-season extensions all along, but it doesn’t appear to be a priority. Of course, if Jay Cutler is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season by Week 8 (which happens to be the Bears’ bye week), then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get it done to save some money. The cap hit wouldn’t be an issue as the extension wouldn’t kick in until next season.
It’s definitely not right.
That’s going to do it for this week’s TweetBag. If I didn’t get to your question, please send one along next week.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.