The Continuing Education of Greg Olsen

Olsen continues to improve as future looks bright

By Eamonn Brennan
|  Wednesday, Aug 5, 2009  |  Updated 3:30 PM CDT
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Greg Olsen, rising star.

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For the first time since he was drafted by the Chicago Bears, Greg Olsen is a starter.

It happened just like that: no position battles, no slow midseason takeover, no nothing. Olsen was appointed the starter over Desmond Clark in camp. It will be the first time Desmond Clark hasn't started since he became a Bear in 2003. And he is not entirely pleased about it.

Still, altogether, Clark is handling it well. He even forecast good chemistry between Jay Cutler and Greg Olsen when Cutler was first traded; he seems to have a pretty good idea of what Olsen -- who has as much potential talent at the tight end position as anyone in the NFL -- can do.

And that's the reason for this swap. First of all, Clark will still play plenty of downs, so it's not a radical shift. In the meantime, Olsen gets the chance to be Jay Cutler's No. 1 target. The Bears desperately need that configuration to work. The closest thing the Bears have to a receiving threat is Devin Hester, and he's (at best) a home run hitter. "Possession receiver" is not really in Hester's job description. The Bears need someone Cutler can throw to for six yards on third-and-five, someone who's reliable enough to play both at the end and split out in the slot when need be.

Is Olsen that player? Very nearly yes. He's become a little bit better with each passing year. His major blind spot -- blocking -- has improved greatly. He has a legendary work ethic in the Bears locker room. And if the true potential hasn't quite shown up on the field yet, this is the year it could truly blossom.

So Olsen's little mini-career milestone -- beating out the veteran for the starting tight end spot -- is only the beginning. As if Bears fans needed any more reason to be excited.

Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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