Friday, August 21, 2009
So Training Camp is Now Over..
Thank you for bein' a friend...
The Bears broke camp at Bourbonnais yesterday with a final practice where, as is their tradition, the players swapped jerseys (ZOMG! URLACHER AND CUTLER SWITCHED JERSEYS! BFFS 4 LIFE!). Next up for the team is a preseason game against the Giants, where the starters should play most, if not all, of the first half. Forte and Olsen are both expected to play this game, so we should get a much better look at the first team offense (though, please, and I realize I'm barking in vain, try not to read too much into Anything that happens out there). So basically here's a summarization of camp:
-The team arrives and Marcus Harrison brings a spare tire with him.
-Charles Tillman out with back surgery. Not a problem, given the standout nature of the Bears secondary.
-Zack Bowman basically won a starting job, then got hurt and missed the last two weeks of camp, leaving an opportunity for Nathan Vasher to reclaim his starting job and...
-Vasher sucked. I hate to say it, because I loved Nate, but the injuries have really robbed him of his speed and he just looks awful in coverage. There's a strong possibility he may be cut before the season, as he's due to make far too much money for a back up.
-Danieal Manning was declared the starting free safety, but then he pulled a hamstring, and Kevin Payne was shifted to safety with rookie Al Afalava moving to strong safety. The Bears insist that Manning is still in the lead for the FS job, but they're really impressed with Afalava. Does that make Payne the odd man out?
-Tommie Harris has been handled with care, although he may see some action against the Giants. As long as he's ready to go on opening day, I'm not too worried about him missing the preseason.
-Frank Omiyale seems to have locked down the starting left guard job, as expected, although the team says the competition is still going on. Josh Beekman has seen some reps at center, and many feel he could be Olin Kreutz' heir apparent.
-Pisa Tinoisamoa has pretty much been the starter at the strong side linebacker position since the day he arrived, but Jamar Williams has had a great offseason, so it's not entirely inconceivable he could come on strong and make something happen the last three preseason games.
-Jay Cutler did a lot of things, said some things that have been blown way out of proportion, was the subject of a Bobby Wade concoction about an Urlacher-Cutler spat (BUT THEY WORE EACH OTHER'S JERSEYS), but made a hell of a lot of good throws and has impressed even many of his doubters. Except Rick Morrissey.
-The wide receiver situation still has yet to shake out. Hester and Bennett will start, but the 3-5? 6? spots are still wide open. Someone's going to have to go between Devin Aromashadu, Rashied Davis, and Brandon Rideau, because I don't see the Bears cutting either 3rd round pick Juaquin Iglesias (I mean c'mon, he ain't Bob Sapp), or 5th round pick Johnny Knox (who has impressed with his 4.3ish speed and may work his way into that slot role this year), and I don't see the team keeping 7 wide receivers (8 if you count 7th round pick Derek Kinder, but I haven't heard a thing about him and I doubt he'll be around that much longer). My money's on Rashied getting the axe.
-No one's quite sure how the runningback/fullback situation will shake out either. Obviously Forte, Kevin Jones, and Jason McKie will make it, but Garrett Wolfe, Adrian Peterson, Jason Davis, and Will Ta'ufo'ou are all in competition for the remaining halfback spots. Will the Bears keep four halfbacks like they did last year? If they only keep three, look for Wolfe to win the 3rd spot as the Bears attempt to justify his high draft status. Will they keep one or two fullback? My guess is they'll just keep McKie, and then keep all four of their tight ends (Olsen and Clark, of course, and probably Kellen Davis and Michael Gaines), since Gaines is more of an H-Back anyways.
All in all, it was by most accounts an excellent camp, and besides the quickly ended Cutler-Urlacher rumor, and the Cutler-Hester mix-up, there were no incidents, unless you count Marcus Harrison being too fat (which he fixed, and he may still start next to Harris).
With all that said, things seem pretty well in place for the Giants game, and hopefully Bowman, Tillman, and Manning will all be along shortly so they can be ready to go with some practice reps before the opener in Green Bay.