Bears shake up roster

Trent Edwards (Tim Heitman/USA TODAY)

We break down the flurry of player personnel moves the Chicago Bears made over the weekend and how these transactions will impact the final 53-man roster.

During Thursday's preseason contest, Chicago Bears third-string quarterback Matt Blanchard broke a knuckle in his non-throwing hand. There is still no official word on the extent of Blanchard's injury but based on the moves the Bears made over the weekend, it appears he's going to miss significant time.

In response, GM Phil Emery this weekend signed quarterbacks Jordan Palmer and Trent Edwards.

From the official press release:

Palmer appeared in four contests for Cincinnati during three seasons (2008-10) with the Bengals, completing 10-of-15 passing attempts for 49 yards and two interceptions. The 6-5, 230-pound Palmer was originally selected by the Washington Redskins in the sixth round (205th overall) in the 2007 NFL Draft out of UTEP. Palmer spent part of the 2012 season with Jacksonville but did not appear in a game for the Jaguars.

Edwards has started 33-of-38 games played over five seasons with Buffalo (2007-10), Jacksonville (2010), Oakland (2011) and Philadelphia (2012), completing 563-of-929 passing attempts (60.6 percent) for 6,033 yards, 26 touchdowns and 30 interceptions for a 75.5 passer rating. The 6-4, 230-pound quarterback has added 330 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 78 carries (4.2 ypc). Originally a third-round selection (92nd overall) by the Bills in the 2007 NFL Draft out of Stanford, Edwards is 14-19 as an NFL starter.

The Bears worked out both quarterbacks, along with J'Marcus Russell, this offseason. Coach Marc Trestman knows what he's getting in these two, who will compete for the club's No. 3 quarterback role.

Yet these moves are not indicative of Trestman's displeasure with Josh McCown as Jay Cutler's backup. Trestman has been very complimentary of McCown, a 10-year veteran who is Cutler's best friend on the team.

"I'm very confident [he can be the backup]," Trestman said during training camp. "He's got a high skill-set, he's very important to our locker room, in a lot of different ways, as a complete player. He knows this offense in terms of where we are right now. He's at where we thought we wouldn't be at this point – we're a little bit ahead in our development, at least the understanding of what we're trying to accomplish. He's throwing the ball very effectively, he's been very efficient throwing the ball. We keep stats on everything we're doing and for the most part he's been very efficient."

It doesn't appear as if Palmer or Edwards, a pair of journeyman signal callers, are any threat to McCown's job. In fact, their presence only solidifies McCown's importance to the team. With two games left to play in the preseason, one in which Cutler won't even play, the Bears need some bodies who can take those reps so McCown doesn't have to put himself at unnecessary risk of injury.

And while Edwards and Palmer are taking those reps, Trestman will have first-hand scouting reports on both players if injuries force him to sign a veteran mid-season. The Bears were planning on keeping just two quarterbacks this year and the injury to Blanchard isn't likely to change those plans. For the next two weeks, Edwards and Palmer will essentially undergo a prolonged tryout for potential future employment.

The Bears also signed defensive tackle Eric Foster. From the official release:

The 6-2, 265-pound Foster appeared in 49 games with 19 starts over four seasons (2008-11) with the Indianapolis Colts after signing with the team as an undrafted free agent out of Rutgers, recording 117 tackles, six sacks, four pass break ups, three fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.

Foster played mostly defensive tackle with the Colts but he played a lot of defensive end as well. He's a hybrid player who could challenge for the nickel pass-rushing role on defense, although he'll have to make a strong immediate impact for that to happen in the next two weeks.

To make room on the roster, the club waived DL Jamaal Anderson, LB Andrew Starks and WR Jerrell Jackson.


Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his third season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.

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