The Chicago Bears kicked off their three-day voluntary mini camp on April 19.
The team had 61 players listed on its roster, via mark Potash — which doesn’t necessarily mean all 61 were present at mini camp — and it also listed five players attending for tryouts: wide receivers JoJo Natson and David Moore, cornerbacks Ryan Lewis and Greg Stroman and safety Christian Uphoff.
The Bears need wide receivers, and their depth in the secondary is thin at best, so it’s no surprise to see them looking at potential additions in those areas. Let’s take a closer look at each of the five players trying out for jobs in the Windy City this week.
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Natson & Moore: Background & Stats
Natson spent three years playing for Utah State from 2012-14 before transferring to Akron in 2016. He was signed by the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent in 2017, and he bounced around a bit after that, landing in Los Angeles with the Rams (2018-19) and in Cleveland with the Browns (2020-21).
The 28-year-old wideout has served primarily as a kickoff and punt returner over his five seasons in the league, playing in 38 games, returning 67 punts for 507 yards (that’s an average of 7.6 yards per return). He also returned 41 kicks for 860 yards (21.0 yards per return) and he has two catches for 18 yards and one rush for 15 yards in his career. At 5’7″ and 153 pounds, Natson is undersized, and that won’t do him any favors.
Moore, 27 is one of the more intriguing of the five players Chicago is bringing in for tryouts. He played his college ball at Division II school East Central University before the Seattle Seahawks selected him in the seventh round of the 2017 draft (226th overall). He spent his first four seasons in Seattle before dividing his time between the Packers and Broncos in 2021.
The 6-foot-0, 215-pound Moore also has experience as a returner, although he has served primarily as a receiver since entering the league. He returned 25 punts for an average of 8.8 yards and just four kicks for an average of 16.3 yards, and was WR3 for Russell Wilson from 2018-20.
In his four seasons with the Seahawks, Moore played in 47 games, starting 14. He caught 78 passes on 136 targets for 1,163 yards (14.9 yards per catch) and 13 TDs. The Carolina Panthers signed Moore to a two-year deal in spring of 2021, but the Panthers released him in a surprising move, and he played in just three games during the 2021 season. Still, he’s capable of making catches like this and could be worth a cheap one-year contract:
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Lewis, Stroman & Uphoff: Background & Stats
Lewis attended Pitt from 2013-16 and went undrafted, landing on the practice squad of the New England Patriots in 2017. The journeyman cornerback has had brief stints with the Buffalo Bills, New York Giants, Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins since then, playing in 25 games and starting nine. The 28-year-old DB has 56 total tackles (43 solo, one for loss), an interception, nine passes defensed and two forced fumbles over his career, and he hasn’t played since 2020, failing to catch on anywhere last year.
Stroman played at Virginia Tech from 2014-17 and was taken by Washington in the seventh round (241st overall) of the 2018 draft. He spent his first three seasons with Washington, playing in 20 games and starting three. He had 38 tackles (31 solo), a QB hit, a forced fumble and an interception in that span. He spent the bulk of his 2021 campaign on the Bills’ practice squad.
Upham signed with the Packers as an UDFA after the 2021 draft, but was released as a part of the team’s final roster cuts before the regular season. He played his college ball at Illinois State, playing in 37 games and starting 15 for the Redbirds. He finished his collegiate career with 94 total tackles (58 solo), 1.0 sacks and three interceptions, and could also provide some nice depth on special teams.