As we count down the final days to the start of Chicago Bears training camp, we’re doing a preview of all of the position groups. We’ll look at our projected starters, key backups, training camp battles as we review the additions and subtractions to the Bears roster over the offseason.
TODAY’S POSITION: LINEBACKERS
Key Departures: James Anderson
If the Bears defensive line was the group most in need of a total makeover, the linebacker group probably has the most uncertainty heading into training camp. Lance Briggs will open camp as the starting weak side linebacker, but after that, there will be some very interesting battles to keep an eye on in Bourbonnais. Can DJ Williams bounce back from another season-ending injury to hold off second year man Jon Bostic? Will the “move Shea McClellin to linebacker” experiment blow up in Emery’s face or finally put the converted defensive end in a position to succeed?
Perhaps the biggest addition to the “linebacker room” is position coach Reggie Herring. Herring comes to the Bears by way of the Houston Texans, where he’s coached linebackers the last couple of seasons. The grizzled vet has been coaching in some capacity since 1981 and with a lot of years in the college ranks, Herring knows how to relate to younger players and teach the techniques needed to be successful. Herring has already won over Lance Briggs through the OTA’s and minicamp:
“I love the guy,” Briggs said. “He’s intense. He’s kind of a throwback, the kind of coach that I always remember growing up. So that part of the whole deal is, in a weird way, kind of comforting.”
Herring will have a tough time sorting out the complex linebacker spots on the Bears. Barring some sort of an injury, Lance Briggs will be holding down the fort at his usual weak side linebacker position. Could 2014 be a farewell tour for the veteran linebacker? Briggs missed significant time with a shoulder injury in 2013 and came back in bad shape. He’s spent the offseason getting himself prepared for 2014 and will look to bounce back after a tire fire of a defensive year in 2013.