Positional battles are what make the NFL so great. A lot of spots are up for grabs in training camp and some positions are won as early as OTAs. The Bears had a poor 2009 campaign and subsequently will have plenty of battles for the top spots on the depth chart.
There are only a few players who need not worry about job security: QB Jay Cutler, DT Tommie Harris, MLB Brian Urlacher, OLB Lance Briggs, RB Matt Forte, WR Devin Hester, C Olin Kreutz, LT Orlando Pace, DE Adewale Ogunleye, DE Alex Brown, and CB Charles Tillman.
Half of the 22 starting spots are up for grabs.
The Bears have a great TE combo consisting of Greg Olsen and the aging but effective Dez Clark. Last season Olsen was developing a rapport with Kyle Orton and this season he should thrive with a legitimate Pro Bowl talent at quarterback. He will look to supplant Clark as the Bears starting TE.
The Bears wide receiver battle is a joke. Devin Hester is the best receiver on the Bears, which is sad because he was drafted as a DB/KR. Hester has worked on his skills as a receiver and has become a legitimate big play WR but he still has inconsistencies. Hester can continue to keep working and not worry about job security because the talent level behind him is terrible.
Rashied Davis (35 catches) should not be on an NFL team and second-year player Earl Bennett (zero catches) barely saw the line of scrimmage last season. The Bears drafted Juaquin Iglesias in the third round to battle for the third or fourth spot on the WR depth chart this season.
Although the Bears lost three starting offensive linemen, the unit should be better, as they have added quality and quantity.
The starting LT position is Orlando Pace’s to lose. Only an injury would cause the Bears to use second-year player and former first round pick Chris Williams ahead of Pace.
According to CBSSports.com, John Beekman is slated to start at LG. The Bears signed veteran OT Kevin Shaffer and versatile OG/OT Frank Omiyale to fill voids on the line caused by the mass exodus of starters. I do not think Beekman will start, but rather Omiyale will be at LG.
Roberto Garza is the incumbent starter at RG and should hold on to his spot, the aforementioned John Beekman will likely back Garza up.
The starting RT position should be one of the better positional battles on the Bears roster. Second year tackle, and future starting LT Chris Williams, will likely push veteran Kevin Shaffer all training camp and likely replace him as the starting RT by the start of the season.
The Bears defense is aging but is still a menace when healthy.
The defensive line has been stable and it has become very hard for a rookie or free agent to crack the starting lineup. The only spot available on the D-Line is the DT opposite Tommie Harris.
Dusty Dvoracek has battled injuries throughout his short career and started 12 games last season. He will be the starter going into camp and until he gets hurt. Second year player Marcus Harrison and veteran Anthony Adams will backup both Harris and Dvoracek.
By the end of last season, Nick Roach replaced Hunter Hillenmeyer at the starting OLB position and will begin the 2009 season in the same spot. It looks like it is Roach’s spot to lose and only an injury would cause Hillenmeyer to supplant Roach.
The Bears secondary was dreadful and decimated by injuries last season. Charles Tillman is the defensive stalwart in the secondary but he, and former Pro Bowl CB Nathan Vasher, battled health problems all season. There are not very many dependable DBs on the Bears and that is a problem.
Corey Graham came on strong last season while Vasher was out battling injuries—Vasher has played in only 12 games the past two seasons due to injury—and may replace Vasher by the start of the season. The battle for the CB spot opposite Charles Tillman will be one of the most compelling of training camp.
The Bears starting Safeties are awful. So bad in fact, they signed one of the worst players in the league, Josh Bullocks for depth and signed Glenn Earl, who has not played in two seasons (!). Neither will start or see much playing time but the starters ahead of them are not very good either.
Starting free safety Danieal Manning is starting to become strictly a kick returner, as he is brainless on defense. The other starting safety is Kevin Payne, who can hit super hard but refuses to wrap up and cannot cover anyone. The safety positions are well below average and lack depth, but both incumbent starters do not have to worry about their job security.
The Bears, as most teams, have plenty of holes and depth problems on their current roster. Competition is supposed to breed success. With exactly half the spots open for competition, the Bears hope that adage is true.
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