The Bears report to training camp in under 10 days, and once they get back to work they’ll begin the grind to prepare for the regular season. This is where the “reps chart” we’ve heard about from coaches will turn into a “depth chart.” It’s where some players will make an early name for themselves, and where others may not live up to expectations. It’s where jobs will be won and lost.
In the months leading up to training camp, the stage has already been set for some players to succeed. Others have been dealt a tougher hand. Nothing is set in stone since the Bears won’t need to make roster cuts until Aug. 29 when each team trims from 90 players to 53. However these are some notable players who may be looking for a new team come September.
EQUANIMEOUS ST. BROWN - WIDE RECEIVER
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No position group looks more different this season than the wide receiver unit. This time last year we were wondering if St. Brown, N’Keal Harry or Velus Jones would emerge as the Bears’ No. 3 receiver behind Darnell Mooney and Byron Pringle. This year the top three are set: DJ Moore, Mooney and Chase Claypool. Now the discussion is who doesn’t make the cut. Tyler Scott is locked in as a rookie mid-round draft pick. It would be surprising for the Bears to give up on last year’s third-round pick Velus Jones after just one year. That leaves EQ presumably fighting for the sixth spot with Dante Pettis. Last year St. Brown’s knowledge of the playbook and run blocking were plusses. That knowledge of the playbook isn’t as important this year since most everyone is in year two of Luke Getsy’s scheme, and run blocking alone won’t be enough to keep his job. Pettis gets the early nod for his better rapport with Justin Fields and special teams contributions.
KINDLE VILDOR - CORNERBACK
Vildor noticeably improved playing in Matt Eberflus’ and Alan Williams’ defense, but that might not be enough for the Bears to keep him. Multiple injuries at the position last season, including Vildor’s ankle injury that cost him six games, allowed several young players to show what they can do on Sunday, and several players availed themselves of the opportunity. Jaylon Jones and Josh Blackwell stand out in particular. Add in rookies Tyrique Stevenson and Terell Smith behind starters Jaylon Johnson and Kyler Gordon, and all of a sudden the cornerbacks room looks crowded. Jones, Blackwell, Stevenson and Smith are guys Eberflus and Ryan Poles brought in themselves and they’re all younger. Vildor is a holdover from the Ryan Pace era. Little things like that can be the difference when it comes time to shave the roster to 53 players.
ALEX LEATHERWOOD - GUARD
The Bears made sure they didn’t miss out on Leatherwood when they claimed him off waivers last season, versus letting him clear waivers then trying to sign him to a new, cheaper contract. However things haven’t worked out for the former first-round pick. Things got off to a bad start when Leatherwood got mononucleosis and missed a lot of practice time. Since then, he’s never really gotten his bearings in Chicago. The Bears have bounced Leatherwood between several positions, both inside and outside. It doesn’t appear like it’s made much of a difference where he plays, though. At this stage it feels safe to say several other depth offensive lineman are ahead of him on the roster.
TRESTAN EBNER - RUNNING BACK
When the Bears drafted Ebner with a late-round pick in 2022 they hoped he could make an impact on special teams and take advantage of opportunities when called upon on offense. Ebner did make a few splash plays on teams, but he often made a negative impact rather than a positive impact as a ball carrier. Considering the Bears added D’Onta Foreman, Roschon Johnson and Travis Homer to complement Khalil Herbert, and Homer and Johnson are each known for their special teams prowess, Ebner will have an uphill climb to make the 53-man roster again this year.