While a lot of key decisions were made as the Bears cut down to 53 players over the weekend, the biggest one in fans’ eyes was the decision to keep Caleb Hanie on the active roster. Hanie’s preseason play made it hard for the Bears to cut him. The Bears had planned to carry two quarterbacks because of uncertainty at so many positions, but given the attention he would’ve drawn from other teams, and the riot that would’ve ensued had they Bears lost him, they found a way to make the numbers work.
Other interesting roster moves include the cutting of several recent draft picks. Most notably where Dan Bazuin and Michael Okwo, both were high picks (2nd and 3rd round respectively) but became expendable when they guys they were tagged to replace (Alex Brown and Lance Briggs) signed extensions with the team. Given the current woes on the offensive line one has to ask if the picks might have been better use there.
Speaking of the offense, outside of Hanie’s inclusion on the roster there weren’t many surprises. The Bears insisted on keeping Garrett Wolfe, despite the fact that he’ll impact on at most a dozen plays this year. The most startling roster decision was to cut both Anthony Oakley and Tyler Reed who I thought were competing for a back-up guard spot. But that position was secured when the Bears acquired Dan Buenning from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers yesterday for a sixth round pick.
There was one additional unexpected roster move made this weekend that is beginning to make a lot more sense. Instead of keeping defensive ends Ervin Baldwin or Dan Bazuin, both were cut in favor of defensive tackle Matt Toeaina. Considering the performance of rookie Marcus Harrison and Israel Idonije’s off-season bulk up to take more time at DT the move was more than a little curious.
Now the reasoning for that move may be coming clear as it has been reported that Tommie Harris has not practiced since the third preseason game and he may be doubtful for Sunday’s opener. Harris has a growing history of injury issues and this rumored knee issue is especially concerning because it may be a continuation of an injury he played through last year.
Harris is the most integral member of this defense. His penetration in the middle of the offensive line draws continuous double-teams and frees up the rest of the line to make plays one on one. If this injury is going to slow him down it’ll make things harder for everyone. Not what you hope for after signing someone to a 4 year $40 million contract.