The Chicago Bears will be participating in their mandatory mini-camp this week at Halas Hall, and there are several battles that will be taking place for various roles on the team. In the first of a two-part series, we’ll preview those battles, and reveal who we think will win the jobs when the team starts the regular season in September.
The back-up quarterback job was thrown into a state of flux when Josh McCown inked a new deal to be the new starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and while all of the talk during the offseason has revolved around Jordan Palmer being the guy to back-up Jay Cutler, the Bears have made several moves that serve to question that assumption.
The first such move was drafting David Fales out of San Jose State in the sixth round of May’s NFL Draft. He threw for over 8300 yards and 66 touchdowns with the school during a two-year career, and even though he was a later round selection, the odds are strong that he will be on the 53-man roster when camp breaks according to Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times.
The other move that the Bears made to challenge the thinking on Palmer was to sign Jimmy Clausen. The former Carolina Panther didn’t exactly work out in that situation, but he has been throwing himself full bore into learning the Bears’ offense as he looks to compete for a role on the squad.
If we had to guess at this point, Palmer would be the back-up despite the injury trouble he’s been having lately, but Fales is right there in the conversation. He has the requisite arm strength on short throws and precise timing on his longer tosses, and that is exactly the recipe that McCown used for success. If Palmer has any trouble getting healthy before the season starts, don’t be surprised to see Fales jump into the back-up role full time.
Number Three Wide Receiver
The Bears originally brought in some decent talent to compete for Earl Bennett’s old job, but things have been complicated by injury concerns. Domenik Hixon was injured during OTA’s and ended up reaching an injury settlement with the team, so it paved the way for Marquess Wilson to grab the reins and seize the slot receiving job.
There are a couple of other guys who will be competing with him for the role however. Micheal Spurlock is a speedster who would wind up making the roster. Josh Morgan is another possibility, as is Chris Williams (although Williams will more than likely wind up as a return man and special teams guy than a regular lineup presence). The biggest threat to Wilson getting the job is probably Eric Weems, who has been a loyal special teams guy for the Bears and could have the requisite tools to get the gig.
When all is said and done, Bourbonnais and training camp will determine this matchup, but Wilson will get a chance to solidify his spot if he can have a good performance in mini-camp this week.
The likelihood that Jordan Mills will get replaced at the right tackle spot that he performed so well at last season is small, but then again, who thought that Mills had a legitimate chance of replacing J’Marcus Webb in the lineup last season?
With that in mind, and the fact that Mills is dealing with the aftermath of a foot injury that he suffered during warm-ups against the Green Bay Packers in December, it’d be helpful to keep an eye on Charles Leno, the Bears’ draft pick out of Boise State. He may not end up being the starter, but with a good performance in mini-camp his stock could rise high enough to become a regular part of the offensive line rotation.