Training camp is an exciting time for an NFL team. It is a time of perpetual hope for an NFL fan, and it’s a time of intense battles for NFL players.
Sure, guys like Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte know where they stand within the depth chart, but for those battling to make a spot on the 53-man roster, training camp is the time to make a name for yourself.
The Chicago Bears‘ most glaring issue this offseason was the safety position. While they brought in both free agents and rookies, no one has locked themselves in as a starter. Former New York Giant Ryan Mundy might have the edge at strong safety, but former Pro Bowler Adrian Wilson is a potential difference maker if he has something left in the tank after missing last season with an Achilles injury. Rookie Brock Vereen is the biggest threat to last year’s starter Chris Conte at free safety. Other safeties who will be in camp trying to make an impression are M.D. Jennings, Danny McCray and Craig Steltz. With such an open battle, these seven guys are going to be the position group to watch in Bourbonnais.
Staying on the defensive side of the ball, the defensive line must be improved from last season as well. As with the safeties, there are plenty of new faces on the D-line. Free agent prizes Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston will certainly start, but who will be lined up inside of them? Defensive tackles Jay Ratliff and Stephen Paea have the early upper hand, but it will be interesting to see if rookies Will Sutton or Ego Ferguson can push their way into the starting lineup or at least into the weekly rotation.
With the linebackers, Lance Briggs is back and ready to go coming off an injury-shortened season, but his position group will have its own intense battle during camp. Jon Bostic, Shea McClellin and D.J. Williams are the prime candidates for the two open spots. Williams will most likely claim the MLB position, leaving Bostic and McClellin as a battle that will certainly be in the spotlight.
Offensively, the battles will be much less high-profile. Rookie running back Ka’Deem Carey and second-year player Michael Ford will be competing for the backup spot behind the much-used Forte. Whoever wins this battle will be used just to spell Forte, as he has developed into a true three-down back. The other offensive battles include the third wide receiver spot which will belong to either Marquess Wilson or Josh Morgan and the backup quarterback battle will consists of rookie David Fales, Jimmy Clausen and Jordan Palmer. There are three guys fighting for a maximum of two spots, maybe even one. Who will impress quarterback-guru-turned-head coach Marc Trestman?
Bears training camp starts this Friday, July 25. If you plan on making it out to Bourbonnais to check out the team, don’t just watch Cutler, Marshall and Forte. Keep your eye on these battles above because that is where you will see guys giving their all with each drill. The offensive player battles won’t be too impactful, but the Bears have to be better on defense, which makes these battles in July crucial for their performance in November.
Andrew Pappas is a Chicago Bears writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter@AndrewPappas24.