Updating the Chicago Bears' Key Position Battles Halfway Through Training Camp
We now have half of NFL training camp and one preseason game under our belts. The rosters are starting to take shape, and the position battles are really starting to heat up.
There are five battles to keep an eye on for the duration of the Chicago Bears' training camp and the preseason. Three are starting roles, while the other two make up the final spots on the roster.
Scroll through as we look at the hot position battles halfway through training camp.
Starting Right Tackle
There's a new battle brewing in camp now. According to the Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs, right tackle J'Marcus Webb has been replaced by rookie fifth-round pick Jordan Mills.
Webb has had plenty of chances in Chicago, and his time might be done. He struggled during the preseason game against Carolina and just doesn't seem to look comfortable at either tackle position.
Mills can just be a temporary bridge until Jonathan Scott returns from injury. Even still, it might be better at this point for the Bears to see what they have in the rookie. Should he do well then he could be the long-term answer.
Starting Middle Linebacker
Veteran linebacker D.J. Williams has missed a good portion of training camp and the first preseason game due to a calf injury. This has opened the door for rookie Jon Bostic to make a case to be the team's starting middle linebacker.
Bostic has done well, but like every rookie has struggled with the speed of the NFL game. The perfect example was the touchdown scored against him by Brandon LaFell in Carolina. Still, Bostic played well and had an interception in the game for a touchdown to go along with a couple tackles, including one for a loss, and one pass breakup.
What Bostic has shown thus far is that he can be the starter if needed, but in no way has he locked down this job. Williams will still receive every chance to win the job, and as long as the veteran is healthy, expect him to come out on top.
When camp began, Kelvin Hayden was slated to be the team's starting nickel corner. Second-year man Isaiah Frey wasn't willing to accept that and has gone out and had an outstanding camp.
Hayden is now out for the season with a hamstring injury, and that instantly bumps Frey up. He continued his hot trend in the first preseason game and made a great play on a pass from Derek Anderson that almost resulted in an interception.
Given the Bears' thin depth at corner, Frey will be the nickel back at the beginning of the season. The team brought in veteran Derrick Martin to give them an added option, but Frey still has the upper hand as of now.
Final Wide Receiver
There are a ton of players vying for the final wide receiver spot. Of the players, the spotlight is on rookie seventh-round pick Marquess Wilson.
Wilson led the team in receptions during its first preseason game. He had four catches for 82 yards on five targets. His ability to be a big-play threat is a very intriguing option for the team going forward.
What doesn't help Wilson is his inability to play special teams. More cases than not, the final receiver on an NFL team is a large contributor to special teams.
Devin Hester is not a wide receiver anymore, but he will likely take away a roster spot from a guy trying to make the team. The Bears are unlikely to keep six receivers plus Hester.
Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Earl Bennett and Joe Anderson are all early locks. Can Wilson overcome Eric Weems, Marcus Rucker, Devin Aromashadu and Terrence Toliver?
It will be a tough decision to cut special-teams ace Weems in favor of Wilson, but if Joe Anderson continues to make strong contributions on the third unit then that can do nothing but help Wilson.
Third Running Back
Every year it seems as if Armando Allen is fighting to be the team's final running back, and this year is no different. This year he is trying to fight off rookie free agent Michael Ford.
Allen did himself no favors with a key fumble during the first preseason game. A key factor in making the team is taking care of the football, and it never looks good to have a turnover in the red zone.
Ford proved he can help in a variety of areas. I addition to his six rushes, Ford had three catches for 35 yards and showed up on kick returns.
As of now the arrow is pointed down on Allen. He has plenty of time to improve, but should the trend continue, Ford will be the final back on the roster when camp breaks.
Starting Right Guard
First round pick Kyle Long and veteran James Brown came into the first preseason game neck-and-neck in the race to be the starting right guard.
The two were mostly on the same level because Long missed a lot of offseason time due to NCAA rules. Long is the more talented player, and as he gains more experience he should take over the starting job.
Long was drafted early to be the starter. Look for him to be named the starting right guard for the season by the third preseason game.