Tre Roberson never even got a chance to practice with the Chicago Bears.
Signed in January after two impressive seasons in the Canadian Football League, Roberson seemed positioned to compete for a role in the Bears’ secondary in 2020. But on Tuesday, the Bears waived Roberson with a non-football injury designation, interrupting his bid to make the team before training camp got rolling and before the team has even held its first practice of an abnormal year.
There was no initial word on Roberson’s injury. But it removes him from the Bears’ defensive plans as the team attempts to get going in Lake Forest for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic altered the offseason.
After Roberson recorded seven interceptions for the Calgary Stampeders last season, Bears general manager Ryan Pace signed the 6-foot, 190-pound cornerback to a two-year contract. Pace spoke highly of Roberson’s potential at the combine in February.
“I don’t want to put a ceiling on him,” Pace said. “He’s an intriguing player. He has really good ball skills, really good anticipation and instincts.”
Pace said he saw shades of Kyle Fuller in the way Roberson played. Roberson was a standout quarterback in college at Illinois State.
“He has that style of play in how he can anticipate and jump routes,” Pace said. “He’s a former quarterback so the football intelligence is there.”
Bears defensive backs coach Deshea Townsend said in June he was eager to begin working with Roberson, struck by his ball skills and playmaking ability.
“The plays he was able to make in Canada, those are things that are natural,” Townsend said. “Those are things that you can’t teach. For me, I’m excited to get a chance to see him move around and see his natural playmaking ability and see if I can help mold him.”
That chance, however, won’t come.
The Bears currently have an opening for a starter at right cornerback as training camp begins. Prince Amukamara’s contract expired in March and the Bears let the veteran leave in free agency. The competition for the job is expected to feature second-round pick Jaylon Johnson, returning veteran Kevin Tolliver and Artie Burns, a former Steelers first-round pick whom the Bears signed in free agency in March.
The Bears official report date to camp in Lake Forest arrived Tuesday, beginning a four-day process of COVID-19 entry testing for most players. The team’s first practice won’t come for another two weeks.
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