After a 21-20 victory over the Cleveland Browns in Saturday’s preseason finale, the Chicago Bears were back at Halas Hall for team meetings Monday. General manager Ryan Poles also began the process of trimming the roster before the 3 p.m. Tuesday deadline to submit an initial 53-man roster.
Here’s what we learned Monday in Lake Forest.
1. Dante Pettis has stated a case to be part of the Bears offense.
Pettis, a fifth-year veteran, didn’t sign with the Bears until after the draft, agreeing to a one-year, $1.035 million deal that essentially offered him a chance to compete for a job. Now, with the preseason over, he awaits word on whether he’ll have a role.
In Saturday’s win in Cleveland, Pettis recorded three catches for 37 yards, snagging a 12-yard touchdown pass from Justin Fields in the second quarter. Two weeks earlier, his 25-yard catch from Trevor Siemian converted a fourth-and-2.
“An opportunity was presented and he’s gone out and taken it by the horns,” offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said. “He has … the flexibility to play multiple positions. He’s been presented one-on-one opportunities and he’s won them, both in practice and the preseason games. In our game, you have to have guys who are able to win those one-on-one battles. He’s done a nice job with that.”
Pettis also has handled punt-return duties during the preseason. Fields singled out Pettis on Saturday as one of the team’s best route runners, an endorsement Getsy agreed with.
“It’s his patience,” Getsy said. “He has a really cool ability to play on his insteps. And his patience to be comfortable being really close to a defender is something the great ones (have).
“There’s no panic. You’re not making a move so far away from the guy. You’re able to smell his breath and then make a move. That’s a really cool quality he has.”
2. The starting offensive line is not locked in.
Braxton Jones started at left tackle in the preseason finale with Cody Whitehair at left guard, Sam Mustipher at center, Teven Jenkins at right guard and Larry Borom at right tackle. Could that be the quintet the Bears take to the starting line in Week 1?
“I don’t want to go there yet,” Getsy said. “But all those guys have done a nice job of getting better each day. … There’s been growth. I love their play style. As much as anything, they’ve bought in.”
The Bears are monitoring the recovery of center Lucas Patrick, who broke his right thumb during the first week of training camp. There’s a possibility he could return for the season opener, which might shift Mustipher either to right guard in place of Jenkins or into a backup role.
Jones, meanwhile, has had the coaching staff’s attention since the spring, and Getsy said the rookie has shown resolve through ups and downs.
“He came in kind of hot; we were really excited about what he was showing,” Getsy said. “Then we put the pads on and I thought it shocked him a little bit. … But then he really did a great job of digging his feet in the ground and getting right back at it. “
Overall, Getsy appreciated the unity and fight the line showed throughout the preseason.
“You guys have seen, when our guys are getting tackled, they’re being picked up by those five guys,” Getsy said. “Every single time. They’re running to the ball. They’re finishing.
“We want to play that kind of ball. We want to play nasty. We want to be more physical than everybody else. Those guys have bought in.”
3. Cuts are ongoing as the Bears cross the bridge from the preseason to Week 1.
The team announced it waived defensive back Jon Alexander, offensive lineman Corey Dublin and receiver Kevin Shaa, minor moves that signified the first roster churn in a week that will be full of similar transactions.
The Bears as currently constructed are unlikely to make many moves this week that grab national attention. Instead, Poles is molding things in a way that best sets up the Bears for Week 1.
That will include looking closely at the players cut by the other 31 teams for possible waiver claims. The claiming period expires at 11 a.m. Wednesday, at which point the Bears can begin assembling a 16-player practice squad.