Chicago Bears Training Camp: Five Players To Watch

5 of 6

Antrel Rolle, S

August 2, 2015: Antrel Rolle (31) during position drills on day four of Chicago Bears Training Camp at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, IL

Followers of the Chicago Bears know full-well the problems that the team has endured as it pertains to fielding a competent pair of safeties. Aside from an oasis here or there of solid safety performance, the last decade has largely been a barren wasteland of ineptitude. The latest to take a crack at righting this wrong is the 11-year veteran acquired via free agency this past March, Antrel Rolle.

Rolle’s addition to the defensive secondary comes with assurances of veteran leadership and on that front I have little worry. He’s been there and done that, is a three-time Pro Bowler and now finds himself on a defense led by one of the most innovative and respected defensive minds in Fangio.  The situation sets up well for him to fulfill the leadership side of the bargain.

The concern I have and the reason he makes this list of players worth monitoring closely in training camp is: how much does he have left to give? There hasn’t been a dip in his production over the last few years and by all accounts he hasn’t noticeably lost a step. He has also been durable, playing in all but one game over the last seven years.

Jul 30, 2015; Bourbonnais, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive back Antrel Rolle (31) during practice at Olivet Nazarene University. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

No obvious outward signs of concern, but father time catches up to us all.  In football it can happen suddenly and dramatically, and the longer a player’s career extends the probability of slowing down grows.

A factor in extending Rolle’s effectiveness would seem to be how the guys in front of him perform and with the 4-3 to 3-4 upheaval on defense, confidence in the front seven in 2015 is a risky proposition. Visions from the last two years of ball carriers reaching the second level of the defense unabated are hard to forget, and preferably Rolle isn’t put in that position often.

Based on his credentials alone he’s the best safety we’ve had in years. He’s a pro and I expect us Bear fans will be happy with what we see; my concern is with the defensive unit as a whole and how their effectiveness (or lack thereof) impacts Rolle.

Next: From Bust to Beast?