Yes, I know that in order to be a preview it has come Before training camp starts, but sometimes people have to actually Do work at work. Anywho, the first indications out of camp are that Lovie is trying to regain the love of Ditkas and Buffones everywhere by running a harder camp than he ever has before. Marcus Harrison has responded by again joining the injury list. Because he's fat.
Anywho, onto the defense:
DEFENSIVE ENDS: #90 Julius Peppers, #97 Mark Anderson, #69 Henry Melton, #71 Israel Idonijie, #96 Barry Turner, #98 Corey Wooten
Pepper is obviously the big man here. I don't really think his reputation for taking plays off is deserved. He was a guy that had to be accounted for every single time you played Carolina. He should have a few years left in the tank. He's the biggest key to the defensive turnaround that this team needs to compete.
Anderson gets one last chance to start, with Izzy Idonijie biting hard at his heels. My guess is Anderson will remain a 3rd down pass rushing specialist, with Izzie doing the grunt work. Wooten was a nice pick. He and Melton will provide the depth. Who is Barry Turner?
DEFENSIVE TACKLES: #91 Tommie Harris, #95 Anthony Adams, #93 Jarron Gilbert, #99 Marcus Harrison, #70 Averell Spicer, #75 Matt Toeaina
The yearly "Tommie is Healthy!" stories are out in full force. With Tommie I'll just wait until prime time to decide what he's going to do this year. He plays when he wants to play. He'd better want to this year or he'll be out of a job. Anthony Adams is a perpetual overacheiver, but they could stand an upgrade. Gilbert may be a bust. Harrison should have locked down a starting job a long time ago but continues to suffer from debilitating obesity. Fatass. Spicer and Toeaina will find their way to the practice squad or stashed on the IR. Idonijie will move inside a lot on passing downs.
LINEBACKERS: #54 Brian Urlacher, #55 Lance Briggs, #59 Pisa Tinoisamoa, #92 Hunter Hillenmeyer, #62 Brian Iwuh, #52 Kevin Malast, #94 Matt Mayberry, #53 Nick Roach, #58 Tim Shaw
Urlacher and Briggs are locked in, obviously. Briggs is still in his prime and is the leader of the defense, no matter what Urlacher thinks. Urlacher will not be "back in form." He'll be a competent tackler and he'll do a fine job of getting everyone else into position to make plays. That's all he needs to do at this point. Pisa and Roach will battle, and I'd like to see what Pisa can do if he stays healthy. Roach is no slouch, though. Iwuh, Malast, and Mayberry are all probably goners. Hillenmeyer is good depth at both SAM and Mike. Tim Shaw is the guy who'll get the roster spot reserved solely for a special teams player, me thinks.
SAFETIES: #46 Chris Harris, #27 Major Wright, #38 Danieal Manning, #20 Craig Steltz, #36 Josh Bullocks, #24 Al Afalava, #37 Quentin Scott
Harris is locked in as a starter. He was a good player when he was here the first time and he never should have been sent away. He got better while he was gone. He's a huge upgrade. Danieal Manning is still lining up with the first team, but I don't expect that to last (and neither should you). Wright is going to be the guy, and I'm excited about that. Manning, for all his talent, has never been able to anticipate where the ball is going. Wright is very, very good at that. Steltz may see more playing time on defense this year, and that's not a good thing. He's solid on special teams, though. Afalava fell hard and fast after starting last year strong. He may very well be on the bubble, battling Bullocks for a spot. Quentin Scott won't make it through the preseason.
CORNERBACKS: #33 Charles Tillman, #35 Zac Bowman, #26 Tim Jennings, #30 DJ Moore, #31 Josh Moore, #47 Woodny Turenne, #39 Cornelius Brown
They've decided to flip Tillman and Bowman, which is interesting, but just crazy enough that it might work. Tillman always worked best as the #2 corner, as he lacks top-flight speed and struggles against elite receivers, but typically manhandles the rest. Bowman has better speed and improved a lot as last year went on, but I'm not sure he's ready for this yet. I'd expect him to struggle early. Jennings struggled with the Colts, but has a lot of talent. Josh Moore should make the team since he was a high pick this year. I would also expect DJ Moore to make the roster as well. Turenne and Brown are likely goners.
Special Teams: Kicker #9 Robbie Gould, Punter #4 Brad Maynard, Long snapper #65 Patrick Mannelly
These guys are all good. Although I'm still pissed at Patrick for that idiotic snap to Garrett Wolfe against Green Bay.