Chicago Bears: Top Position Battles to Watch During Training Camp
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The 2013 Chicago Bears will open up training camp in just a few weeks. This year's squad has a lot of new faces, including head coach Marc Trestman. There will also be a new scheme on both sides of the ball, as well as opportunities for a lot of young players. Some positions will be reviewed under a very strong microscope.
Here are the five key position battles to watch as training camp unfolds for the Bears this year...
No. 1: Offensive Line
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Outside of center Roberto Garza and tackle Jermon Bushrod, the rest of the Bears' offensive line is a toss-up.
Altogether, there are 13 players fighting for roughly eight spots on the 53-man roster. Out of the 13 linemen on the current roster, eight of them have experience of five years or less.
During the course of Jay Cutler's time in a Bears uniform, he's been sacked more times then he's been able to throw touchdown passes. Marc Trestman is looking to change that by giving the boys up front a complete overhaul. So far the biggest move of that overhaul was the Gabe Carimi trade last month.
This will be the most important position for the Bears this year.
No. 2: The 3rd Running Back Spot
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Armando Allen has managed to hold his own since arriving in Chicago back in 2011. Ever since his debut on Christmas Day of that year, Allen has found ways to contribute to keep his roster spot. Aside from his offensive abilities, he has also pitched in on special teams.
This year, Allen will have some competition. Undrafted rookie Michael Ford has been stating his own case for getting a roster spot. Ford, just like Allen, is a solid runner with receiving abilities. Ford is also capable of returning kicks and punts. But the differences between these two talents will decide who gets the third slot behind Matt Forte and Michael Bush.
Ford has shown excellent speed during the offseason workouts. At times he looked even faster than Allen. Even though Ford has yet to see contact on an NFL field, the rookie out of LSU showed during his college days that he can also be a power runner, unlike Allen.
Allen will need to step up his game if he is to keep his roster spot.
No. 3: Backup Tight End
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Martellus Bennett was brought in via free agency to be the starting tight end for the Bears this year. This is another position that is being overhauled to better the team. There is no more Kellen Davis to drop passes in the back of the end zone.
Bennett is a major upgrade at the position without a doubt.
Who will back him up is another story.
Kyle Adams and Gabe Miller are the leading candidates, although they haven't been as effective as many had hoped.
Behind them are three young, hungry and unproven players looking to make a name for themselves. Brody Eldridge, Steve Maneri and Fendi Onobun will push Miller and Adams for the backup spots. The Bears decided to pass on Tyler Eifert on draft day. Hopefully they won't regret that decision.
No. 4: Starting Linebackers
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With Brian Urlacher out of the picture, Lance Briggs has taken over as the leader of the Bears' defense. His starting job at strong-side linebacker is set in stone.
But the other two starting positions will probably take the rest of the summer to fill.
Veterans D.J. Williams and James Anderson lined up with the first team at the middle and weak-side slots respectively during the spring workouts. But they have been getting very stiff competition from rookies Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene.
Aside from the offensive live, this will be one of the more difficult decisions that the Bears coaching staff will have to make.
No. 5: Safety
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Major Wright and Chris Conte will more than likely be the starters again, barring any unforeseen circumstances.
Wright and Conte are among eight safeties who are looking to make the 53-man roster in September. Chances are the Bears will only keep four players at this position.
This will be another difficult round of choices for Marc Trestman and his staff. There are some big names to go through. Brandon Hardin is returning from last season's neck injury, Craig Steltz is still around and Chicago native Tom Zbikowski could make his mark on special teams.
The rest of the group is rounded out by Anthony Walters, Tom Nelson and Cyhl Quarles. When the time comes to decide who makes the regular-season roster, the Bears coaches will have their hands full.