The truth is the Chicago Bears had probably already identified 48 to 51 of the 53 players who will survive the final roster cuts before they got on the plane Friday for Nashville.
NFL teams can’t just keep their 53 best football players.
Some players survive because clubs need a certain amount of depth or competition at one spot, while at another position they may have more talent than they have room for.
These Bears probably will cut a safety, cornerback or linebacker who may be a better football player than an offensive lineman or wide receiver they keep.
There also are players who’ve made enough of a mark in more than four weeks of practice that whatever they did Saturday night versus the Titans was never going to alter their fate.
So as much as I’d like to just name five or so players who made the team vs. the Titans, and a like number that lost jobs, there are just too many variables including needing to go back and really study the tape.
But I can tell you five that improved their stock and five that may have damaged their dreams of NFL careers.
Jesper Horsted: I know, right?
But it’s not only the three touchdowns. With J.P. Holtz presumed to be the No. 4 tight end, Horsted may have completely changed that dynamic.
Cole Kmet, Jimmy Graham and Jesse James will be No. 1, 2 and 3, but Kmet, James and Holtz are all Y tight ends.
Horsted has changed his body and style over the past two seasons, but he’s still a U and he can back up Graham. Holtz really can’t.
Trevis Gipson: The outside linebacker was always going to make the team, but he was the Bears dominant defender on the field Saturday night. That may have earned him some of Jeremiah Ataochu’s reps as the third edge rusher in rotation.
Marqui Christian: A special teams demon and safety by trade, Christian has been logging minutes at the nickel in camp, a spot that still is undecided, and he may have claimed it with his play against the Titans.
The Bears would like to keep six corners and four safeties, but if Christian is a factor at the nickel they can carry just five pure corners.
Rodney Adams: The wideout looks good with almost everything he’s done in camp, and he had another very solid night. I think he locked himself in as the No. 5 receiver, if he’s not actually No. 4 ahead of Damiere Byrd.
Joel Iyiegbuniwe: I thought “Iggy” was gone going into the game as stacked as the Bears are inside, and he still may be. But he played easily his best game as a pro, showing up when his future was on the line. It will be interesting to see how it pays off.
Riley Ridley: He made a few nice plays including one on special teams, which we haven’t seen before, but it feels like the deck has been stacked against him since the wideout got to town and particularly since Dazz Newsome was drafted. Was he visible enough?
Duke Shelley: He’s around the ball a lot, but Shelley just doesn’t finish many plays. If fellow corner Desmond Trufant is going to get a free pass onto the roster, somebody they like will have to go. Dropping that easy pick can’t have helped.
Josh Woods: Woods was in trouble going into the game and with the nice showing from Iyiegbuniwe he had no answer, and then dropping a gimme pick to end the game...
Artavis Pierce: You might think because he got a final audition and fellow running back Ryan Nall really didn’t, Nall is in trouble. But I suspect with the Bears turnover and needs on special teams, and Nall’s value there, he may be one of those guys who already had a spot and Pierce did nothing with his last look.
Tre Roberson: If Shelley and Trufant hang on, Roberson probably can’t. While he had the pick-six immediately after a sweet open field tackle, the pick was all thanks to Gipson and two plays in two preseasons just doesn’t feel like enough.