Bears Create Roster Spots After Cutting 2 Players, Including Veteran Defender

Mike Pennel

Mike Pennel Jr. was released by the Chicago Bears on September 9.

Just two days before they kick off their regular season against the San Francisco 49ers at Soldier Field on September 11, the Chicago Bears announced they have released two players.

The Bears cut veteran nose tackle Mike Pennel, opening up a spot on their 53-man roster. They also released defensive lineman Sam Kamara from the 16-player practice squad, opening up a slot there, as well.

Pennel also spent time with the Bears in 2021, signing a one-year deal, but he landed on injured reserve and was released before the regular season even began. An eight-year NFL veteran, Pennel has played for the Green Bay Packers (2014-16), New York Jets (2017-18), Kansas City Chiefs (2019-2020) and Atlanta Falcons (2021). He has played in 101 games over his NFL career (16 starts), amassing 176 total tackles (eight for loss), 13 QB hits, a forced fumble and 2.0 sacks over that time.

Chicago signed Kamara as an undrafted free agent out of Stony Brook in 2021, and after making the team’s practice squad, he was elevated to the active roster Week 6. He appeared in eight games last year, playing 108 snaps on defense and 87 snaps on special teams, finishing with 10 total tackles (one for loss) and a pass breakup.

More Roster Moves Likely Coming Heading Into Week 1

With the release of Pennel and Kamara, the Bears will likely be adding to their roster and practice squad in the coming days, with defensive lineman, cornerback and/or wide receiver high on their list of needs.

On the defensive line front, Justin Jones is expected to lead the way for the Bears at defensive tackle, with recent waiver wire acquisition Armon Watts behind him on the depth chart. Angelo Blackson is the only other DT listed on the depth chart, and while he isn’t a household name, he performed well in limited opportunities for Chicago last season.

Blackson, 29, finished with 25 total pressures, six QB hits, 16 hurries and 3.0 sacks in 315 pass rush snaps in 2021, per Pro Football Focus.

We’ll see if the Bears add any more help at the position.

Adding Another WR Is Possible Considering Injury Issues, But not Likely

The Bears are looking like they’ll be a tad short-handed at wide receiver heading into their matchup against San Francisco, with rookie Velus Jones Jr. listed as doubtful for Week 1, as he has been out with a hamstring injury.

But, according to Heavy’s NFL insider Matt Lombardo, “multiple sources familiar with the wide receiver market tell Heavy that, at least for now, the Bears don’t seem to be in any hurry to make a move.”

That could change, of course, but Bears head coach Matt Eberflus seems optimistic the rookie wideout is set to return soon. “He’s working through that,” Eberflus said on September 9 about Jones’ recovery, per the team’s official website. “We’re close. We’re getting close with it. I think it’s going to be good here soon.”

If Jones does return in an expedient fashion and stays healthy, it’s less far likely the team will scour the wide receiver market for good fits at the position. If his injury lingers, though — and hamstring injuries tend to do that — don’t be surprised if Chicago makes another move at wide receiver.

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