This Bears team is trying to have its cake and eat it too, and as of this writing with at least one more move to make, they're doing an awfully good job of of it.
Of all the players the Bears cut loose in their trip from 90 players at the opening of training camp in Bourbonnais to the final 22 players released this weekend to get down to a 53-man roster, the cut that hurt the most was tight end Fendi Onobun.
Now Onobun is safely stashed on their practice squad, and the Bears have a chance to develop him at their own pace. It is also possible he will still be a factor for them this year if other nondescript options they kept on the roster, including Steve Maneri, Kyle Adams and fullback Tony Fiametta, fail to carry their weight.
Onobun just did too much wrong in extended playing time in all four preseason games to take a spot on the final 53. But he also showed far too many flashes of truly unique athletic ability in practice to give up on him yet.
The practice squad is the perfect compromise, as the only way they will lose him is if another team is willing to sign him to its 53-man active roster, an option I just explained is probably not justifiable. Now only the Bears will observe his development as he practices with the team every day, and any point they feel his unique athletic ability is ready to outweigh his lack of experience and understanding of the game, they can make room for him on the regular roster and elevate him seamlessly.
It wouldn't be the worst thing if he spent the entire season on the practice squad and then came back to compete for a roster spot again next summer.
Linebacker Jerry Franklin, cornerback Demontre Hurst, quarterback Jerod Johnson, wide receiver Ricardo Lockette, running back Harvey Unga and defensive end Aston Whiteside round out the seven players the Bears signed, leaving one space open for another desired target.
Perhaps even more interesting than the players added to the practice squad is David Bass, a defensive end who the Bears claimed on waivers from the Raiders and who will be on the Bears' 53-man roster after they waive one more player.
The most logical move appeared to be waiving their sixth-round draft choice, defensive end Cornelius Washington, and then hoping he'd clear waivers and they could get him the final spot on their practice squad. Instead they chose to waive Cheta Ozugwuh and keep both Washington and Bass. Bass and Washington are in many respects the same player, phenomenal athletes who teams try to project to positions on the football field. The difference may be that Bass appears to actually have some intuition and natural feel for the game, while Washington is an athlete who was a chronic underachiever at Georgia and just may not have a feel for the game.
Bass probably caught the Bears' attention in the third preseason game when he met and defeated rookie offensive guard Kyle Long on a play in which Long pulled to his left and targeted Bass off left tackle but got his pads too high in the hole, allowing Bass leverage and to defeat him and drop Michael Bush for a 2-yard loss.
Like Onobun, Hurst and Whiteside are players the Bears liked a lot in camp but just couldn't win a numbers game.
Perhaps the most significant signing is Johnson out of Texas A&M. Coach Marc Trestman all but promised he'd bring in a third quarterback to have in the room and learn the system, and on Day One Johnson may be more prepared to make the leap to the NFL than Matt Blanchard was when he broke his knuckle.
Don't assume the Bears are done. They are probably still looking for upgrades on the waiver wire at tight end and cornerback.
• Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media and HubArkush.com. Write to him at [email protected]