Two down, one to go.
The Bears' 24-17 preseason loss to the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday contained little excitement or pizzazz. None of the starters played and outside of a brilliant 10 minutes from backup quarterback Tyson Bagent, the affair was a relative snoozer.
However, it did provide one more data point for the looming roster decisions.
With two preseason games in the books, here's my latest projection for the Bears' 53-man roster and Week 1 depth chart:
Quarterback (2): Justin Fields, P.J. Walker
Others on roster: Tyson Bagent, Nathan Peterman
Fields got the starting quarterback treatment Saturday, spending the night in sweats after an uneven week of joint practices. This next week is a crucial one for Fields and the first-team offense as they look to find a consistent rhythm before Week 1.
Walker has struggled in camp and was not good Saturday in Indianapolis. Walker's contract has $2.01 million in guaranteed money, but there's a good case to be made that Bagent should be the backup to start the season based on what has transpired in camp.
Bagent had a solid night Saturday in Indianapolis. He entered and immediately engineered a 17-play, 92-yard drive. He looked comfortable and poised, getting the ball out fast to Dante Pettis, Daurice Fountain, Joe Reed, and Nsimba Webster. Bagent went 7-for-8 for 61 yards on the drive and capped it off with a 2-yard touchdown run.
I assume the Bears will try bringing Bagent back on the practice squad if he doesn't beat out Walker.
Running back (4): Khalil Herbert, D'Onta Foreman, Roschon Johnson, Travis Homer
On bubble: Trestan Ebner
Ebner needed an excellent camp to secure one of the final spots on the roster. He got off to a solid start, but the second-year back suffered an injury in the preseason opener against the Tennessee Titans and hasn't been on the field since. Availability is the best ability for a guy fighting for a back-end spot.
As for the running back pecking order, Herbert still appears to have a leg up on Foreman heading into the final week of the preseason. I've been more impressed with Foreman during camp, but I think the Bears will give Herbert the "starting" job to open the season since he's done nothing to warrant having it taken away.
Johnson continues to stack good days in camp. The fourth-round draft pick told NBC Sports Chicago things are starting to slow down for him. With Ebner out, Johnson has received more reps with the first-team offense in practice. He'll start the season as RB3, but I expect his role to grow as the season goes on.
Fullback (1): Khari Blasingame
Others on roster: Robert Burns
Blasingame is the guy.
Wide receiver (6)
X: DJ Moore, Velus Jones Jr.
Z: Chase Claypool, Equanimeous St. Brown
F: Darnell Mooney, Tyler Scott
On bubble: Dante Pettis
Others on roster: Joe Reed, Nsimba Webster, Daurice Fountain, Isaiah Ford
I feel like five of these six are pretty locked in. The only question is whether the Bears will keep Pettis, given his reliability as a punt returner, over St. BRown. I think Pettis provides more value than St. Brown, but the Bears like the Notre Dame product's run blocking and need another bigger receiver as Claypool insurance.
Scott feels like the best option to back up Mooney in the slot, but given how the Bears ask their receivers to be interchangeable, I wouldn't put much stock in who backs up who.
Tight end (3): Cole Kmet, Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis
On bubble: Stephen Carlson
Others on roster: Lachlan Pitts
The Bears could very well keep Carlson. But I think they are better off using that spot on another position group with more value to the team.
Kmet, Tonyan, and Lewis form a very good tight-end trio.
Offensive line (9)
LT: Braxton Jones, Larry Borom
LG: Teven Jenkins, Alex Leatherwood
C: Cody Whitehair, Lucas Patrick
RG: Nate Davis, Ja'Tyre Carter
RT: Darnell Wright, Larry Borom
Others on roster: Dieter Eiselen, Josh Lugg, Roy Mbaeteka, Doug Kramer, Logan Stenberg, Robert Haskins, Aviante Collins, Kellen Diesch, Gabriel Houy
The Bears' starting five is set as long as they get healthy. Borom is their only real option as a swing tackle. Once he's healthy, Patrick will be the first interior depth option at center and both guard spots.
Edge rusher (6)
DE: Yannick Ngakoue, Rasheem Green, Terrell Lewis
DE: DeMarcus Walker, Dominique Robinson, Trevis Gipson
Others on roster: Jalen Harris, D'Anthony Jones
Gipson will remain on the bubble until cut day, but I think he has done enough to earn one of the final spots. That could change, but Gipson is a solid NFL edge rusher who can provide good depth. Lewis said he believes he has earned a spot, and with two strip sacks in two preseason games, it's hard to disagree.
Harris is a practice squad candidate.
Defensive tackle (4)
3T: Justin Jones, Gervon Dexter
1T: Andrew Billings, Zacch Pickens
On bubble; Travis Bell
Others on roster: Bravvion Roy, Andrew Brown
The Bears really like Bell as a developmental prospect, but I don't know if that's enough to get him on the 53-man roster. The practice squad feels like his likely landing spot.
Jones, Dexter, Billings, and Pickens give the Bears four reliable defensive tackles to rotate. Billings's presence should improve a run defense that was horrific in 2022.
WILL: T.J. Edwards
MIKE: Tremaine Edmunds, Jack Sanborn
SAM: Noah Sewell, Dylan Cole
Others on roster: Mykal Walker, Micah Baskerville, Barrington Wade, Davion Taylor
I'm sticking with Sewell as the starting SAM. Sanborn is a good depth piece, but Sewell's instincts and athleticism earn him the starting job and the 10-to-12 snaps that come with it.
Cole returned to practice this week and keeps the final linebacker spot for now. But the addition of Walker makes this a back-end battle to watch in the final week.
CB: Jaylon Johnson, Terell Smith
CB: Tyrique Stevenson, Jaylon Jones
Nickel: Kyler Gordon, Josh Blackwell
On the bubble: Kindle Vildor
Others on roster: Michael Ojemudia, Greg Stroman Jr., Macon Clark
Given Smith's injury issues, Stevenson should have the edge in that position battle. Jones is a good special teams player who the Bears are comfortable trotting out in the secondary if needed.
Vildor likely will be a numbers casualty. There are six guys above him, and five were either drafted or signed by general manager Ryan Poles. Vildor is a competent NFL corner, but he needs to have a great end to August to avoid the axe.
SS: Jaquan Brisker, A.J. Thomas
FS: Eddie Jackson, Elijah Hicks
On bubble: Adrian Colbert, Kendall Williamson
Others on roster: Bralen Trahan
I had Colbert over Thomas in the last projection, but Thomas had a great week of joint practices against the Colts and played well Saturday. It will be neck-and-neck between him, Colbert, and Williamson down the stretch, but Thomas has the edge right now.
If healthy, Jackson and Brisker form arguably the best safety tandem in the NFL. Hicks has been one of the most improved players in camp. He gives them a quality depth option who can play either safety spot.
K: Cairo Santos
P: Trenton Gill
LS: Patrick Scales
Put in ink.