2013 is a new year with a new look for every team, but especially for the Chicago Bears. A new head coach, coaching staff and offensive outlook headline the changes, but don’t hold a candle to a new look defense without franchise cornerstone Brian Urlacher. Second-year GM Phil Emery came out publically and stated his focus was now turning to the offensive side of the ball, and after his second offseason under his belt and the hiring of offensive guru Marc Trestman, who can argue?
A team with a new beginning and a whole new philosophy is all but guaranteed to have a new look, and that the Bears do. Personally speaking, this has been the most exciting training camp I have experienced with the Bears. Many questions are yet to be answered, but the possibilities are endless and chances of the playoff team seem much more likely. There are many young players with great potential that have been brought in to complete this team, making for some very exciting training camp battles. Here are my top three camp battles guaranteed to entertain.
Just one year ago, the Bears seemed set at the position for at least a few more years, but after the sad departure of future Hall Of Famer Brian Urlacher and strong-side backer Nick Roach, Emery found himself with a glaring weak spot. Quickly, solid veteran players D.J. Williams and James Anderson were brought into the mix as “stop gap” type players. Emery did not stop there though; he then used his second and fourth-round picks in the draft to bring in promising young backers Jonathan Bostic and Khaseem Greene. With long time “Will” linebacker Lance Briggs locked in, the Bears now have four potential starters for two open spots. Williams and Anderson were projected to take the starting roles head on before a recent injury to Williams shot newcomer Bostic into a real chance to break camp starting at “Mike” linebacker.
As it stands right now, Anderson is slotted to become the “Sam” linebacker with Bostic (pending health of Williams) heading the middle and Briggs staying at his true position of “Will”. As many football fans have noticed though, injury is subject to change the look of any team’s depth chart at any time.
Competition to watch: Bostic vs. Anderson or Williams. Greene may need another year for development.
It is no secret that the offensive line will most likely be the determining factor for the Bears’ success this coming year. Emery knew this and went out and added potential starters left tackle Jermon Bushrod, left guard Matt Slauson, first-round pick Kyle Long, who is projected to compete to start at right guard, and possibly reserve Eben Britton. Emery also brought in top lines coach Aaron Kromer to help cure this horrendous line. New head coach Marc Trestman has also upped the competition, therefor producing a possible more consistent and productive offensive line. Better depth and more talent could lead to a better-finished product, but competition may push this line to the next level. With that being said, there are a few battles to watch for.
Competition to watch: James Brown vs. Matt Slauson or Kyle Long, J’Marcus Webb vs. Jonathan Scott or Jordan Mills, and possibly depth battle between Eben Britton and Edwin Williams.
For most Bears fans, a competition at receiver is a very excited event to witness. With Pro Bowler Brandon Marshall, second year breakout candidate Alshon Jeffery, and reliable slot receiving Earl Bennett locked in to take the first of three spots on the depth chart, the Bears have a possibility of carrying either two or three extra players. I see them keeping two and strictly a return man, which should be the historic Devin Hester. That leaves nine players fighting for two spots. Headlining the possible candidates are second-time Bear Devin Aromashadu, Joe Anderson, rookie Marquess Wilson and possibly Eric Weems.
Competition to watch: Devin Aromashadu vs. Joe Anderson vs. Marquess Wilson vs. Eric Weems vs. Josh Lenz.
There are many other exciting battles, but narrowing it down to three made the most sense. The biggest key to keep in mind is that there are 53 spots on the roster and not every position can be filled with extreme depth.