LAKE FOREST – Four days from now, professional football will happen in 2020.
During the pandemic, there were times that would seem unlikely, and there was even skepticism when training camps officially commenced in late July.
But the league’s teams, including the Bears, have been diligent so far with COVID-19 preventative measures. So as of Sunday, it looks like things will kickoff in Kansas City with the reigning Super Bowl champion Chiefs hosting the Texans Thursday evening.
The Bears’ season opener against the Lions at Ford Field is three days later on September 13th at Ford Field. It’s the first of 16 scheduled games for the 2020 season, and while time will tell if the virus impacts that at all, there is optimism at the moment.
Matt Nagy’s already made one big decision when it comes to that opener, as he reportedly named Mitchell Trubisky the starting quarterback late last week. On Saturday came another important step- setting the initial 53-man roster for that opener against the Lions.
The final cuts were made before the NFL’s 3 PM CST deadline on Saturday as the Bears waived or released 20 players to get down to the required number.
Of that group, there were no major surprises, as everyone who was expected to make the roster did just that. A few players who saw playing time on the team last year, including tight end Jesper Horsted, linebacker Isaiah Irving, and cornerback Kevin Toliver, were waived at the deadline.
Third-string quarterback Tyler Bray, who has been with the team since 2018, was released along with kicker Cairo Santos. He was signed after Eddie Pineiro started dealing with a groin injury in the second half of training camp.
Seventh-round draft pick and offensive lineman Lachavious Simmons was also let go along with undrafted free agent Ledarius Mack, the brother of Bears’ All-Pro linebacker Khalil. Safety Marqui Christian was suspended by the NFL for two games, so he doesn’t count against that 53-player roster.
Now the group that’s on the team now isn’t necessarily the one that will take the field next Sunday. After looking over other players who were released, the Bears could decide to sign someone else and part ways with a current member of the roster.
Per multiple reports on Sunday, the Bears will sign defensive end Mario Edwards after he was cut by the Saints this weekend. A former second round draft pick of the Raiders, he has 10.5 sacks in 59 career games with them, the Giants, and New Orleans.
Plus some of those players who were let go Saturday will likely join the team’s practice squad, which will be announced in the coming days. Per Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, Santos and Denmark will be a part of the group kept around, but it’s expected that Toliver will not join the practice squad.
Nevertheless, at least there is a roster to set and an opening to prepare for in this pandemic 2020 season, and that’s a victory in itself.