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RB Nall most surprising of Chicago Bears cuts

September 2, 2018

By far the most surprising of the Bears Saturday cuts was RB Ryan Nall, as they trimmed their 90-man roster to 53.

Though undrafted out of Oregon State, Nall had a spectacular preseason, rushing for 223 yards on 32 carries, a 7.0-yard average. He also caught four passes for 25 yards. At 6-foot-2 and 232 pounds, Nall was the biggest back on the roster and showed better-than-expected speed and elusiveness but couldn’t carve out a niche behind starter Jordan Howard and versatile change-of-pace Tarik Cohen.

Nall is a prime candidate for the practice squad provided he clears waivers, which is iffy considering the impressive plays he put on film throughout the preseason, including four carries for 79 yards in the preseason finale. After that game, Nall said:

“The positive side of me thinks I’m going to make the team, and the realistic side knows that there’s a chance that I might not. So if that does occur, I’m going to stay positive and see what else is out there. Hopefully my agent will be able to make contacts, and the coaching staff said, ‘If we don’t make this team, they want us to make someone else’s team,’ so I’m just going to stay positive and keep moving in the right direction.”

The release of CB Cre’Von LeBlanc was unexpected, considering he had started 10 games in his two years with the Bears after he was waived by the Patriots just prior to the start of the 2016 season. He went undrafted out of Florida Atlantic, but the 5-foot-11, 190-pounder was considered a sticky cover corner. He started games at nickel corner and on the outside, but he was a better fit covering slot receivers because he lacked some size.

Instead, the Bears kept rookie CB Kevin Toliver, who was undrafted out of LSU but at 6-foot-2 and 192 pounds has intriguing size and athleticism.

The departure of third-year veteran ILBs John Timu and Jonathan Anderson, who was waived injured (groin), was anticipated since back in April when the Bears drafted ILB Roquan Smith with the eighth overall pick and added ILB Joel Iyiegbuniwe in the fourth round.

Third-year veteran Nick Kwiatkoski is currently listed as the ILB starter with Danny Trevathan, but Smith should move ahead of Kwiatkoski once he’s up to speed after a 29-day holdout and a hamstring injury that kept him out of the preseason but isn’t considered serious.

Fifth-year veteran OLB Kasim Edebali impressed in the preseason but got pushed farther down the depth chart when the Bears swung a trade for three-time Pro Bowler Khalil Mack, who heads a position that also includes 2016 first-round pick Leonard Floyd and Sam Acho.

WR Tanner Gentry had 144 yards on a team-best 16 preseason catches, but with the offseason additions of Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel at that position, plus the emergence of seventh-round rookie Javon Wims, Gentry was a man without a roster spot. He could be back on the Bears’ practice squad, where he spent part of last season, when he also started three games after Cam Meredith and Kevin White were injured.

For now, the Bears will go with two quarterbacks after No. 3 QB Tyler Bray was waived.

Sixth-year veteran DL John Jenkins and fifth-year vet Nick Williams also were waived, as the Bears decided to go with just five defensive linemen. They clearly favored younger players on the D-line, including Jonathan Bullard, Roy Robertson-Harris and fifth-round draft pick Bilal Nichols.

The Bears also traded 2016 fourth-round draft pick Deiondre’ Hall to the Eagles for an undisclosed draft pick, most likely a seventh-rounder. Hall was drafted as a cornerback but moved to safety. He played just two games last year after starting the season on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. He will be suspended for one game this season for violating the NFL’s drug policy.

Bears cuts

OL Dejon Allen

DL Abdullah Anderson

ILB Jonathan Anderson (waived injured)

WR Demarcus Ayers

QB Tyler Bray

LS Tanner Carew

RB Knile Davis

OLB Kasim Edebali

CB Rahsard Fant

WR Bennie Fowler

DB John Franklin

WR Tanner Gentry

CB Doran Grant

OL Brandon Green

ILB Ro’Derrick Hoskins

DL John Jenkins

WR Garrett Johnson

WR Malachi Jones

CB Michael Joseph

CB Cre’Von LeBlanc

OL Matt McCants

CB Jonathon Mincy

RB Taquan Mizzell

OL Jordan Morgan

RB Ryan Nall

OLB Elijah Norris

S Nick Orr

OL Will Pericak

TE Colin Thompson

ILB John Timu

DL Cavon Walker

DL Nick Williams

P Ryan Winslow

LB Josh Woods

Injured reserve

WR Marlon Brown

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