At quite a few positions, the Chicago Bears have immense depth; at others....well, let's just hope that a few certain players don't fall prey to injuries! Here's a look at some of the training camp battles to keep your eye on when training camp kicks off.
1. Three Technique Defensive Tackle Backup
Recent third-round pick out of San Jose State Jarron Gilbert will be given a chance to compete with former third round pick Marcus Harrison. Harrison looked promising in his little time last season, amassing two sacks.
2. No. 2 and Slot Receiver
Third round compensatory pick Juaquin Iglesias and last years third-rounder Earl Bennett are the two most likely candidates for the starting job next to Devin Hester. Earl Bennett has also practiced as a slot receiver, so if he loses the job he could slide in there.
Earl Bennett left Vanderbilt as the SEC's all-time leader in receptions and has a rapport with another Vanderbilt alum on the Bears, quarterback Jay Cutler. Cutler came back to throw at Bennett's Pro Day last year.
Rashied Davis will be challenged not only by the aforementioned Bennett if Bennett loses the No. 2 job battle to Iglesias, but also rookie fifth-round pick Johnny Knox from Abilene Christian. The 5'11" speedster showed excellent speed and hands in the Bears recent training camp.
3. Tight End
Three immensely talented players in Desmond Clark, Greg Olsen, and Kellen Davis all reside at the tight end position. Desmond Clark has been a stalwart for the Bears and is a more than capable blocker and receiving threat.
Greg Olsen is a much better receiver who's still developing as a blocker. Kellen Davis, fifth round pick from Michigan State last year, showed promise in the preseason making some spectacular catches, but his blocking is still subpar and will need to improve if he wants to stay with the Bears as their third tight end, who Lovie Smith typically uses as a blocker.
4. No. 2 Cornerback
Across from Charles Tillman, Bears fans could see any of injury-prone Nathan Vasher, young Corey Graham or rookie D.J. Moore. There has been rumors of Graham moving to free safety, although nothing has been confirmed by Lovie Smith.
5. Free Safety
Probably the weakest position on the Bears entire roster, newly signed free agent Josh Bullocks, former fourth round pick out of Louisiana State Craig Steltz and kickoff returner Danieal Manning are all competing. Former fifth-round pick out of Nebraska Zack Bowman will also be making the move from cornerback to free safety.
Bowman showed excellent ball skills in his lone playing time during a Week Seven game against Minnesota. Bowman intercepted a pass to clinch a 48-41 win for the Bears.
A crowded battle, Dan Buenning, acquired last year for a sixth round pick from the Buccaneers, Josh Beekman, who showed immense improvement last year, Frank Omiyale, free agent signee from the Panthers, and Roberto Garza, a starter on this line for the past four years, all have a shot at the two guard positions.
Garza and Omiyale seem to be the favorites, with Beekman likely using his athleticism to work at backup center to eventually take over from Olin Kreutz.
7. Strongside Linebacker
Long-time fair haired child of the organization Hunter Hillenmeyer was thrust from his starting position for former Northwestern Wildcat Nick Roach midway through the season. Both will be competing with
8. Nose tackle
Injury prone Dusty Dvoracek was drafted to replace Tank Johnson at nose tackle but so far has been unable to stay healthy and has not been impressive in his time at the position.
The 2007 free agent signing period brought former San Francisco 49ers Anthony Adams to the Bears, and he's been very impressive in his time at defensive tackle in Chicago. Although he has the size to do it, we're unsure if he can make the transition to defensive tackle.