Chicago’s youth movement is underway. GM Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus kept 20 first and second-year players on this season’s final roster, including all of the team’s 2022 draft picks (Doug Kramer is on the IR). Three players that made the team were undrafted free agents, including linebacker Jack Sanborn. The Bears started the 2021 season with the second-oldest roster in the league.
“The experience they get in that first season playing, it’s invaluable,” Eberflus said. “They’re going to learn so much ball by being out there and playing rather than being on the sideline, and if they’re good enough athletically and they’re good enough players, you just have to put them out there and they’ll figure it out eventually.
“And then you just have to coach them up and coach them through the ups and downs of it and keep their confidence up. I believe in that because what you do is you build a faster, younger football team when you do that.”
Chicago still has to place WR N’Keal Harry on IR and replace him on the roster. Doing so the team to designate him for return, maybe around midseason. Four of Chicago’s seven wide receivers are battling injuries. That list includes Harry, plus Byron Pringle, Tajae Sharpe, and rookie Velus Jones Jr.
Of the 20 players in their first or second year, seven are a good bet to start against the 49ers on September 11 at Soldier Field, none more important than quarterback Justin Fields. Eberflus discussed his roster after announcing the team’s cuts in yesterday’s afternoon press conference.
“We know where we are,” Eberflus added. “We’re developing [and] setting a foundation. We’re nowhere near where we want to be.”