Terrell Lewis made it just one day on the Chicago Bears’ 53-man roster before they replaced him with one of their waiver-claimed pass rushers. Now, the preseason standout pass rusher has found a new home elsewhere in the NFC.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the New Orleans Saints are signing Lewis to their practice squad after placing rotational pass rusher and 2021 first-round pick Payton Turner on injured reserve with an injury he sustained in their season opener. The move was confirmed in the NFL’s official transaction wire for September 14.
Lewis dominated for the Bears in the 2023 preseason, notching three sacks and five pressures over his three performances and seemingly doing enough to earn himself a rotational pass rusher role on their initial 53-man roster over Trevis Gipson. Instead, the Bears claimed Khalid Kareem off the waivers from the Indianapolis Colts the day after cuts were made and waived Lewis to make room for him on the active roster.
While it is unclear why the Bears elected not to bring back Lewis for their practice squad once he cleared waivers, the 2020 third-round pick will now get an opportunity to help shore up the pass-rushing depth in New Orleans.
Bears’ Pass Rusher Struggled Mightily Against Packers
The Bears pumped resources into their run defense during the 2023 offseason and seemed to get the desired results against the Packers, holding the potent tandem of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon to just 2.9 yards per carry and 92 rushing yards overall. Unfortunately, their pass rush — which was the subject of criticism for much of the offseason and went mostly unaddressed — did not answer the call in Week 1.
The Bears generated just one sack and a measly six pressures against Jordan Love and the Packers in their 38-20 loss, which proved to be an embarrassing effort even against Green Bay’s formidable offensive line. The one sack they did record — from Yannick Ngakoue toward the end of the second quarter — was also a coverage sack.
A glance at ESPN Analytics suggests the Bears were not quite as bad as it seemed with a 35% team pass-rush win rate that ranked 23rd overall in Week 1, but Pro Football Focus’ measurement indicates that DeMarcus Walker and Andrew Billings were the only two defenders who actually won their pass-rushing matchups against the Packers. Even if their metrics missed a few instances, that’s an ugly reality for the Bears.
Will Khalid Kareem Get a Chance to Play in Week 2?
The Bears appeared to have two good options for their rotational pass rusher roles coming out of the preseason after both Lewis and Gipson put on a show for them, but they found themselves drawn to Kareem based on what he had shown during training camp for the Colts. Whether it was his preseason tape or the strong showings he had against the Bears in their joint practices, he looked like a talent Chicago could use.
“I saw him play the run well a couple times and also saw his motor,” Bears head coach Matt Eberflus said after Kareem was claimed. “I really liked his motor. It runs hot. He’s a great effort player. He’s very physical. So we like that about him. And we’re excited about developing him in our system.”
How quickly the Bears will give Kareem the go-ahead, though, remains to be seen. He was not active for their season opener against the Packers and could find himself in the same spot when Week 2’s matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers arrives on Sunday. Granted, Kareem is only entering his second week of practice win the Bears’ system and is currently the fifth man behind Ngakoue, Walker, Green and Dominique Robinson, but another rough week for the pass rusher could motivate them to speed things up.