Chicago Bears Top 5 Training Camp Battles
With Chicago Bears Training Camp in Bourbonnais, Ill., only one month away, we look at this year’s Top 5 Training Camp battles. Not like the scuffle between Lamarr Houston and Martellus Bennett during OTAs, but actual position battles.
1. Strongside linebacker
The main battle will be between the Bears’ 2013 second-round pick, Jon Bostic, and the 2012 first-round pick, Shea McClellin. From everything I’ve seen and heard, Shea looked the part at OTAs, but Bostic has been working hard this offseason as well. I expect this battle to go all the way to the third preseason game before anyone is named a starter.
2. Free safety
This position just got a little more interesting with the Bears signing five-time Pro Bowler Adrian Wilson. However, Wilson is 34 years old and has had some recent injuries. Chris Conte’s inconsistent play and last year’s breakdown against Green Bay pushed the Bears to sign M.D. Jennings, who started all 16 games last year for the Packers. The Bears also drafted Brock Vereen in the fourth round of this year’s draft. Vereen has been the starter in OTAs, but with Wilson signing and Conte coming back from shoulder surgery, I expect all four players to have a legitimate shot at starting.
3. Kick returner
When Phil Emery decided not to re-sign Devin Hester, it immediately created a competition for this role and some big shoes to fill with an unknown player trying to replace the greatest returner in the NFL. Possibilities on the current roster include Michael Ford, Eric Weems and Terrence Tolliver, but I think Michael Spurlock, Armanti Edwards and star CFL kick returner Chris Williams have the best chance to win the job.
4. Backup quarterback
We were all looking forward to have Josh McCown as Jay Cutler’s backup again this year, until Lovie Smith took him down to Tampa Bay. Last year’s third-string QB, Jordan Palmer, is the favorite to now win the job. Palmer had some shoulder issues in OTAs which caused the Bears to sign former Panthers’ second-round pick Jimmy Clausen. The Bears also drafted David Fales in the sixth round. I still think it will be Palmer’s job, who learned the system last season, but anything could happen in Bourbonnais in July.
5. Long snapper
This will not be as exciting as the other positions, but it will still be a battle after Patrick Mannelly retired from 16 seasons at the position. Brandon Hartson and Chad Rempel will be the two players fighting for the job, unless someone else is brought into camp.