In an article directly following the Bears-Colts preseason contest on Saturday night, I must adhere to the lessons my journalism teachers have taught me over the years and lead with the most important and groundbreaking news to emerge during the game.
The Chicago Bears have a kicker!
Eddy Piñeiro was outstanding, hitting all three of his extra points, a short field goal, and a 58 (!!!) yard field goal. He remains in the spot he held on last week’s projection, as do 62 other Bears. The win in Indianapolis helped solidify his standing and that of a few others who either have or almost have roster battles locked up.
Find out who those players are, as well as my full 53-man roster and practice squad picks following the Bears’ victory over the Colts.
Week Two 53-Man Roster Projection (Changes from last week in Italics)
Kicker: Eddy Piñeiro
Punter: Pat O’Donnell
Long Snapper: Patrick Scales
The Bears are entertaining multiple battles for the last few spots on the 53-man roster, so naturally Twitter didn’t agree with every one of my predictions when I tweeted out the projected roster. Here are more detailed thoughts on a few of the more common questions, comments, and concerns that I received.
Hall had a very good camp and came painfully close to two long touchdown passes in preseason (he would have had them if not for two terrible throws). He also has a role carved out on special teams, despite a poor showing at returner thus far. Yet many fans are calling for his head, often in favor of an extra tight end or running back.
He remains on my projection for one reason: Ryan Pace said a few times, perhaps alluding to this very situation, that the Bears will at least attempt to keep the “best 53.” There is little doubt in my mind that Marvin Hall is one of them, and he has the added benefit of helping in kick/punt coverage.
Pour one out for Quack Attack.
I had hoped to see Duck build on a strong performance last week that included a magnificent interception, but he didn’t see the field on defense until the second half. When he played, he didn’t stand out. The Bears are likely to move on from the best name on the team.
Calls for Kwiatkoski’s head had become increasingly frequent, but they were nonexistent on Saturday night. He made multiple physical run stops and put on a nasty swim move for a sack, displaying his prowess as a blitzer.
Kwiatkoski went forward a lot more than he went backward on Saturday, which plays to his strengths. He was already a solid bet to make the roster as a key special teamer and backup linebacker, and Saturday night’s performance all but assures it.
Yes, Nall has been more impressive as a running back. But Whyte has the speed, instincts, and willingness to just get to the 30 yard line and be done with it to be an outstanding kick returner in the future. Because Patterson is likely gone after one or two years, the Bears cannot afford to try and pass Whyte through waivers and onto the practice squad.
Which Players Earned Roster Spots in Week Three?
Isaiah Irving had a great night as well, but it was Vaughters who stole the show once again at outside linebacker. He flashed a great speed rush, dipping and ripping past the Colts’ offensive tackle and forcing a fumble that Iyiegbuniwe took back for a score.
Vaughters has done more in two weeks than Kylie Fitts has done in a year and a half in a Bears uniform. Yes, Fitts was a draft pick, but there is zero tape that suggests he should be on an NFL roster right now. The opposite rings true for Vaughters, and because of how injury-prone the Bears are at edge rusher, they’ll have more than enough room for five of them on the 53.
Bars was already more than likely ticketed for the active roster, consistently showing up on the Bears’ second unit and putting his injury issues behind him, for now at least.
He became a lock once Harry Hiestand and Matt Nagy gave him a look at left tackle once T.J. Clemmings went down with a season-ending injury just before halftime. That move doesn’t necessarily indicate that Bars will be their swing tackle, but it does indicate that the coaching staff knows he’s on the team and wants to see if he can be arguably their most valuable reserve.
Williams had a better training camp and preseason than Jonathan Bullard up to this point, and nothing about the Bears’ win over the Colts changed that. He picked up a sack of Colts QB Chad Kelly, made a couple of tackles at or near the line of scrimmage, and constantly held his own against the run.
Bullard isn’t as versatile as Williams, either, as the latter can play nose as well as three-technique. The only reason the Bears would even consider keeping Bullard over Williams is draft status, and the former third round pick out of Florida has consistently failed to live up to the expectations that come with being selected that high. Come September 5, the Bears should have five defensive linemen, and Williams should be one of them.
It’s not just that he made the kicks, including a 58-yard bomb. It’s that they were all right down the middle, and it’s not a coincidence that Piñeiro’s best week by far came after a week of practice in which he got every single rep.
Assuming (frantically knocks on wood until knuckles bleed) nothing goes horribly wrong when the team returns to Chicago to face Tennessee, Piñeiro will open the 2019 season as the Bears’ kicker against Green Bay.
We only have to discuss back-of-the-roster players for one more week. It’s almost here.