By Chris Emma—
(CBS) Bears coach John Fox was upbeat when he arrived at training camp in July, candidly admitting that this was the best he has felt about his roster in three seasons in Chicago because of the depth created.
Competition throughout the preseason has played itself into a 53-man roster, as set Saturday afternoon. The Bears’ initial roster includes three quarterbacks, four running backs and five tight ends. The team also activated linebacker Pernell McPhee from the physically-unable-to-perform list and placed edge rusher Lamarr Houston on injured reserve.
The Bears will carry just four rookies onto the active roster – quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, tight end Adam Shaheen, safety Eddie Jackson and running back Tarik Cohen – after declining to keep any of their undrafted free agents. Receiver Tanner Gentry was a surprising cut, with the Bears hoping he clears waivers and can be signed to their practice squad. Veteran receiver Victor Cruz was also released as part of the first round of cuts Friday. The team is moving forward with just five receivers, which allows greater depth for five at tight end.
On defense, the Bears decided to release veteran lineman Jaye Howard despite his hip finally nearing full strength after offseason surgery. Roy Robertson-Harris, who moved from outside linebacker to defensive end this offseason, beat out Howard for a role.
The Bears will welcome back McPhee to their active roster after he underwent a July procedure on his left knee. An irregularity was discovered upon arrival at training camp, which forced the team to place him on the preseason PUP list. Houston is expected to be released with an injury settlement after suffering a knee injury in Thursday’s preseason finale.
With depth in the secondary, the Bears opted to waive 2016 sixth-round pick DeAndre Houston-Carson. The rookie Jackson is expected to start at safety alongside veteran Quintin Demps. Cornerback Kyle Fuller, the Bears’ 2014 first-round pick, made the roster after a strong showing during the preseason. Johnthan Banks was among cuts at cornerback.
The Bears placed a group of players on injured reserve, inlcuding Houston, running back Ka’Deem Carey, receiver Cam Meredith, offensive lineman Jordan Morgan and safety Chris Prosinski.
Rosters are far from finalized, with 1,184 players now available after rosters have been cut around the league. The waiver wire will be especially busy after rosters moved from 90 to 53 for the first time ever. The Bears are third in the waiver-claiming order, with only the Browns and 49ers ahead in the priority list.
Here’s the Bears’ initial 53-man roster after the 3 p.m. CT deadline:
Note: Players are listed in projected depth chart order
Mike Glennon, Mitchell Trubisky, Mark Sanchez
Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, Jeremy Langford, Benny Cunningham
Kevin White, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright, Deonte Thompson, Josh Bellamy
Dion Sims, Zach Miller, Adam Shaheen, Daniel Brown, Ben Braunecker
Charles Leno Jr., Kyle Long, Cody Whitehair, Josh Sitton, Bobby Massie, Hroniss Grasu, Tom Compton, Bradley Sowell,
Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Jonathan Bullard, Mitch Unrein, Roy Robertson-Harris
Danny Trevathan, Jerrell Freeman, Nick Kwiatkoski, Christian Jones,
Leonard Floyd, Pernell McPhee, Willie Young, Sam Acho
Marcus Cooper, Prince Amukamara, Kyle Fuller, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Bryce Callahan, Sherrick McManis
Quintin Demps, Eddie Jackson, Adrian Amos, Deon Bush, Deiondre’ Hall
Connor Barth, Pat O’Donnell, Jeff Overbaugh