With Training Camp fast approaching I wanted to put the spotlight on the Bears that will have to step up or prove themselves in their respective position.
QB: Rex Grossman
This one goes without saying. The Bears brought him back with a 1-year deal to try to once-and-for-all slay his demons and show that he can compete in the NFL consistently and not just show flashes of greatness followed by a game-ending interception.
RB: Matt Forte
Isn’t this what every rookie dreams of when they are drafted? The starting spot has basically been handed to Forte, now he has to step it up and show that he deserves it. Coaches have been raving about his skills during OTA’s but things are different with the pads on. The organization is holding its breath for the first few weeks of training camp to see how the youngster runs routes when he’s being chased down by Urlacher and Co. in full contact drills. If things don’t turn out well, the Bears may become big players on the running back market.
WR: Brandon Lloyd
There is a lot of attention being paid to Devin Hester but all Hester really needs is the ball in his hands and he can create his own plays. It appears the real score for the Bears on the free agent market was landing Lloyd out of Washington. Word from the Bears is he looks great in drills so far this summer and he appears to be distancing himself from the pack as the number 1 receiver. If he has a strong training camp Lloyd may be able to resurrect his career as a top wide out.
TE: Greg Olsen
Olsen has put together some flashy plays and has an incredible ability to go up and get after the ball. Bears quarterbacks need to look to him more often and hopefully will rely on him now that he has more experience. The Bears resigned Desmond Clark so Olsen will platoon for playing time. Both players are known for their good hands and ability to spread the field, but Olsen has blazing speed and incredible height to go along with it. Olsen has done everything right so far, he just needs to get more familiar with his quarterbacks and make sure they don’t forget to look for him.
OT: Chris Williams
Ok rook, time to show us what you got. Chicago is not known for their great first round draft picks so Williams will have a lot of pressure on him to perform and perform well. Reporters and fans will be on his every step to see if maybe, just maybe, a first round draft pick will come through. He’ll have a lot of veteran mentors on the line and hopefully he’ll be up to the task.
OG: Terrence Metcalf
Entering into his seventh season in the league he has seen some short stints as a starter but the team has never had full faith in him. Now that Rueben Brown has departed, the job is his to lose. He will have to show coaches that he is ready to be a part of the offensive line and hold his own. Given his contribution in the past I think he’s ready to be in the spotlight full time.
C: Olin Kreutz
Kreutz has long been considered the cog holding the Bears offensive line together and their undeniable leader. However, last year there was a sudden drop off in his productivity and he didn’t look like his normal self. As a result the entire offensive line looked unprepared and confused all season. The success of the O-line starts and ends with Kreutz. He needs to get back into his old form if this offense is going to have a chance to move the ball.
DE: Mark Anderson
After a flashy rookie season, Anderson was given the opportunity to start at end over veteran Alex Brown and he folded under the pressure. His inability to handle the run distracted him from focusing his energy on being a great pass rusher. The Bears decided to resign Brown to a longer deal and put him back on the starting line for his experience to contain running backs. Anderson will return to his 3rd down role as a pass rushing threat on the edge. If Anderson can’t find his rookie spark, he may find himself replacable down the line.
DT: Matt Toeaina
I had a hard time with this one because the real attention will be paid to Israel Idonije, who has put his time in as a special teamer and is trying to win a job as starting DT. However, I’ll be particularly interested in watching the development of Toeaina. When the Bears were thin at the position towards the end of last season, they signed Toeaina and he burst into the backfield making plays against the Minnesota Vikings on Adrian Peterson. Any kid that can shed a block and chase down Peterson in the backfield is someone I want to keep an eye on. It may have been a fluke burst of adrenaline so he could make the team, but if not……you never know.
LB: Brian Urlacher
Urlacher may be the face of the defense but he also is admittedly playing with an arthritic lower back and coming off surgery on his neck this offseason. Eyes will be on Urlacher the first time he participates in contract drills to see how that back neck and back are going to hold up. It appears the neck is healed, but he will likely have to play the rest of his career dealing with an aching lower back.
CB: Nathan Vasher
There is a reason why they call him “The Interceptor.” Vasher was injured most of last season and you could see how his absense had an effect on the team. When he returned to play a couple games the defense had a different swagger and more confidence in their play. Vasher also turned up with an interception. He’s got a nose for the ball and when healthy and paired up with Charles Tillman, they can shut down opposing receivers. He needs to be healthy and get back to form for this defense to return to dominance.
S: Mike Brown
If you have never seen Mike Brown play I cannot even begin to describe him to you. He is to the Bears what Mark Prior was to the Chicago Cubs. He is not only Pro Bowl caliber, he is possibly a Hall Of Fame caliber player that has been sidelined by injuries his entire career. When he is on the field the Bears defense looks almost unstoppable. He will stop the run(101 tackles his rookie year), cover wide receivers, and has a knack for coming up with interceptions(14) and returning them for touchdowns (He is the franchise leader with 7 defensive TD’s). He is the total package. When he plays the Tampa Cover-2 defense is running at it’s best and will give an opposing quarterback nightmares. Last season he played in only one game and had to be taken off the field with an injury. After the game he broke down in tears in frustration over his career. He wasn’t sure if he would return but he agreed with the Bears to give it one more shot. Every Bear fan and player prays that Brown can stay healthy and make a huge difference on this defense.
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Tags: Alex Brown Brandon Lloyd Brian Urlacher Charles Tillman Chicago Bears Chris Williams Desmond Clark Devin Hester Greg Olsen Israel Idonije Mark Anderson Matt Forte Matt Toeaina Mike Brown Nathan Vasher Olin Kreutz Rex Grossman Terrence Metcalf