Chicago Bears: What to Watch for at OTAs
Organized team activities or OTAs are voluntary workouts, but players are always expected to show up. The NFL only allows for 10 of these workouts, so it is vital for a team to get as much done as possible during the sessions.
The Bears have to make use of the precious time. A new coaching staff, new offense and a ton of player turnover makes for exciting opportunities during OTAs. There will be a ton on display, but there will be 10 key things to watch for during the sessions.
Here are key stories to watch for during OTAs.
Jay Cutler in His New Offense
All eyes will be on Jay Cutler and how he handles to Marc Trestman's new offense. Trestman has a history with putting quarterbacks in their best position to succeed so it will be interesting to see the new vision.
Most people expect Cutler and the Bears to execute a fast-paced offense predicated on getting the mobile quarterback on the edge as much as possible.
Cutler has always been able to throw well on the run, and that is a skill of his that has not been taken advantage nearly enough in Chicago.
Matt Forte and His Increased Role
Last year Matt Forte sat out of OTAs due to a contract dispute. The deal got done in time for training camp, but the Pro Bowl running back saw his role diminished in Mike Tice's offense last year.
Forte is at OTAs and has been rewarded with an expanded role. Many will predict NFC North rival Reggie Bush will catch the most passes in the division from the running back position, but Forte will surely have something to say about that.
The Bears aren't as deep at wide receiver and they could benefit from leaning on Forte more in the passing game. Last year was the first season of his career he had fewer than 50 catches. Forte has always been at his best as a dual threat.
The Next Man Up After Brandon Marshall
Who is going to be the guy who takes the pressure off of Brandon Marshall? Training camp and preseason will likely settle that question, but Marc Trestman and his staff will get a hint during OTAs.
Alshon Jeffery and Earl Bennett need to bigger factors but expect Jay Cutler to develop a solid relationship with new tight end Martellus Bennett early on.
Last season Bennett was able to haul in 55 catches for over 600 yards and five touchdowns for the New York Giants. Those were all career highs for him.
Which J'Marcus Webb Shows Up?
There is no doubt J'Marcus Webb has the physical tools and capable talent needed to be a starting tackle in this league. His problem is and has always been his lack of drive and work ethic.
You never know which version of Webb will show up from week to week, but here's hoping there is a fire lit under him to perform well. Aaron Kromer thinks he can salvage Webb and make him a quality starter, but it's going to be on the three-year veteran to put in the work.
Have Your Fill of Athletic Rookies on Defense
New defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has some exciting rookies to coach and scheme with. Jon Bostic, Khaseem Greene and Cornelius Washington are all extremely talented and athletic players who bring a much needed jolt of youth to this defense.
Washington's speed has already been impressive in the early going. He is coming off the edge well and seems to have a great knack for getting to the quarterback.
Greene is a playmaker who can deliver some jar dropping hits. He is going to learn a ton from playing with Lance Briggs and D.J. Williams.
Bostic seems to be on a mission early on to show everybody he can be the opening day starter and middle linebacker. He is very smart and more than comfortable with shouting out the signals from the center of the defense.
Will Gabe Carimi Ever Show Up?
Gabe Carimi made more news than he needed to recently.The much maligned former first-round tackle turned guard stunned people when he didn't show up for the first couple OTAs.
Carimi chose to stay in Arizona because he felt it was better for his offseason program. Missing out on a chance to work with a new coaching staff and a new offense looks like a poor decision early on by Carimi.
GM Phil Emery took the high road when asked about Carimi. He said the team will welcome him back with open arms when he is ready to return.
Publicly, Emery is saying all the right things, but privately he and Marc Trestman can not be happy with Carimi. If Carimi chooses to sit out more OTAs, the Bears might look toward an exit strategy with the 24-year-old.
Will We See the Return of Helmet Cam?
In the rookie minicamp, Marc Trestman dabbled with the use of a camera attached to the helmet of Matt Blanchard.
The idea was to view the footage and get an idea of what the quarterback sees during his drops and how he works through his progressions.
Early on, Trestman is undecided about whether or not he will use the technology on Jay Cutler. The toughest part about using the camera is eventually getting around to viewing the tapes.
The Bears have a ton of players to evaluate in OTAs, and spending time to look at the footage from the camera may not be the best way to spend time. Trestman probably thinks he can get a good idea of what Cutler is doing just by watching him live.
Can C.J. Wilson Continue to Generate a Buzz
One of the more impressive players during the rookie minicamp was undrafted free agent C.J. Wilson.
Wilson was a four-year contributor at NC State. During the camp he showed good instincts and ball skills at a position the Bears are fairly thin at.
It will be interesting to see how Wilson fares against NFL talent. If he can continue to impress against Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Earl Bennett then he might have a realistic shot at making the roster come training camp.
Can Marquess Wilson Stand Out?
Fans really want seventh-round pick Marquess Wilson to make this roster. He comes with some baggage but has the chance to be the vertical threat the Bears need.
Wilson has an uphill climb, but if he can develop a relationship with Jay Cutler and prove to the coaching staff his skill set is necessary for the roster then he can start to carve out his role with the team right now.
One thing Wilson can do is get past the defense a couple of times during OTAs. Nothing leaves a longer impression than a youngster making a big play against the veterans.
The Establishment of a New Culture
There's a new sheriff in town for the first time in nine seasons, and Marc Trestman is looking to put his stamp on the team early on.
Now's the most important time for the first-time head coach to establish his style and culture. He needs to earn the respect of his veteran players and get the most out of his rookies.
The kind of precedent Trestman sets now goes a long way toward how the team responds to him in December. All eyes on are him and he must not disappoint.