Bears Cut Ties With Rookie DE, Designate 2 Others for Return

Alexandre Cut, Gordon DFR Week 6

Getty Bears second-year center Doug Kramer.

The Chicago Bears are getting a few players back from injured reserve — at least in terms of practice — ahead of Week 6’s matchup with the Minnesota Vikings.

According to the team’s official transaction wire for October 9, the Bears designated slot cornerback Kyler Gordon and second-year center Doug Kramer for return from injured reserve on Monday, opening their 21-day window to be activated to the 53-man roster. Both are eligible to return to practice, but they can only play next Sunday if activated.

Additionally, the Bears officially signed running back Darrynton Evans off the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad, a move that Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported Sunday would be coming down the pipe for Chicago with Khalil Herbert expected to miss time. Evans and D’Onta Foreman are the only healthy running backs on the 53-man roster.

The Bears will not need to make any corresponding roster cuts until Gordon or Kramer is activated to the 53-man roster. If either one of them is not activated before the end of their 21-day activation window, they will have to spend the remainder of the year on IR.

The Bears also made a few practice-squad changes Monday. They cut loose undrafted rookie Deslin Alexandre — whom they signed after 53-man roster cuts in August — and added back veteran quarterback Nathan Peterman to fill his spot on the practice squad.

Bears’ Battered Secondary Could Use Kyler Gordon

Gordon having a chance to return for the game against the Vikings is a good sign for the Bears’ battered secondary. The 2022 second-round pick has not played since breaking his hand in the season opener against the Green Bay Packers, but he is their top option for the nickel cornerback spot and should slide back into the role once he is cleared.

Gordon had a rough start to his 2022 rookie season working on the boundary, but he seemed to be turning a corner toward the end of the year, recording three interceptions over his final eight performances. The Bears then drafted Tyrique Stevenson in the second round of the 2023 draft and asked him to move into the slot on a permanent basis, a role in which he looked comfortable against the Packers prior to his injury.

A little more experience, even from a second-year player, would go a long way for a Bears secondary that started a pair of rookies on the perimeter against Washington. Chicago is still without top cornerback Jaylon Johnson (hamstring) and free safety Eddie Jackson (foot) and is down to its third option in the slot after Josh Blackwell joined Gordon on injured reserve ahead of Week 4’s matchup with Denver.

“He’s a good player, a really good player and dynamic player in there at nickel,” Bears head coach Matt Eberflus said Monday. “[He] does a lot of things for us. That position, if done right, enables us to play various coverages, enables us to pressure a player and do a lot of different things with him. And he was on his way, had a great camp. We were really excited about him starting the year.

“It’s going to be really good to get him back so we can be more consistent with our defensive alignment.”

Even if Johnson and Jackson are not ready to return in Week 6, Gordon getting back on the field to help Stevenson and fifth-rounder Terell Smith in coverage should be a boon.

Will Doug Kramer Overtake Lucas Patrick at Center?

Kramer’s return will not have the same immediate impact that Gordon’s return is expected to have, but the 2022 sixth-round pick could be an intriguing option for the Bears as they continue to sort through their shifting offensive line alignment.

Kramer spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve, but he showed encouraging flashes over his 94 preseason snaps for the Bears back in August. He allowed just one pressure over his 55 pass-blocking snaps and was a mauler in the run game who had success imposing his will on competing defensive linemen. According to Pro Football Focus, he was also graded as the second-best overall center (81.0) in the preseason.

Now, there is a big difference between winning matchups in the preseason against second- and third-stringer guys and stepping into the lineup against starters in the regular season. Still, the Bears could eventually put Kramer to the test if their problems at the position — particularly with Lucas Patrick — persist for too much longer.

Patrick is also currently in the NFL’s concussion protocol after leaving last Sunday’s game. The long break between games will give him additional time to be cleared, but in the event he is not, the Bears could be looking for Kramer to step up as their backup center — so long as he is officially activated to the 53-man roster before next Sunday.

Read More