5 Biggest Takeaways from the Chicago Bears' OTAs

Ross ReadContributor IIIJune 4, 2014

5 Biggest Takeaways from the Chicago Bears' OTAs

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    The hockey season in Chicago sadly has come to an end, and baseball remains mediocre at best in the city. This means the Bears get more attention, even if it's just OTAs.

    What is usually a mundane practice time in the summer, this round of OTAs has had its fair share of stories. We saw a receiver go down with an injury, a former first-round pick start his road to redemption and a Pro Bowl player line up in a new spot. 

    Here are the five biggest takeaways from OTAs so far.

Tim Jennings Will See Time Inside

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    The Bears showed a different wrinkle when they lined up in nickel defense. First-round pick Kyle Fuller played the outside corner spot opposite Charles Tillman, and Tim Jennings moved inside to nickel. 

    It's a move that certainly makes sense. At 5'8", Jennings can cover smaller receivers in the slot and bring a playmaking ability to the position. Last year's nickel corner, Isaiah Frey, failed to record an interception.

    Fuller is a bigger and more physical player. His size will allow the Bears to run more man coverage in three-receiver sets and force the quarterback to either deal with the pass rush or throw the ball into tight coverage.  

The Veterans Will See Early Time on the Defensive Line

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    Jeremiah Ratliff
    Jeremiah RatliffNam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    The Bears might have a pair of new defensive tackles, but it's safe to say the veterans will get the early call up front. 

    When the first-team defense lined up, the Bears featured Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston at the ends and Jeremiah Ratliff and Stephen Paea inside. 

    Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton will see playing time in a rotation, but experience counts when you are trying to win a division. Willie Young will also see time, giving Allen and Houston a breather. 

    Ratliff is pretty well-cemented into one defensive tackle spot, but Paea could get overtaken down the line. Sutton and Ferguson will have key roles, but it's the veterans who the Bears will ultimately rely on. 

Hixon's Injury Opens Up a Spot for Williams

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Wide receiver Domenik Hixon tore his ACL during OTAs. It is the third time he's had the injury, and it will likely end his career. 

    Hixon's injury is unfortunate, but it does open the door for former CFL standout Chris Williams. In late December, the Bears signed the 5'8", 175-pound return man from the Saints practice squad. 

    Williams was somewhat of a long shot to make the roster, but now he looks like a prime candidate to be the final receiver. He's an excellent return man who had a record six touchdown returns in the CFL.

    He's quick, elusive and is a player to watch out for come the start of training camp. 

Shea McClellin Gets a Fresh Start

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    It has been a disappointing start to his career for Shea McClellin. The former defensive end was brought in to be a menacing pass-rusher but only has 6.5 career sacks in two seasons. 

    McClellin will now compete with Jon Bostic at the Sam linebacker spot. McClellin showed up to OTAs in outstanding shape and looks to reinvent his career at a position that feels more natural to him. 

    "I'm excited about the switch," McClellin said, via Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com. "They told me they wanted me to play linebacker and I was fine with it. I think it's a good fit for me, so I'm going to try to show what I can do." 

    It's a tall learning curve for McClellin, but it's good to see he's up to the task early on. 

Jared Allen Is Looking to Prove a Point

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Jared Allen wants you to know he isn't just here for a paycheck or to pad his already illustrious stats. The five-time Pro Bowl pass-rusher wants to win, and he wants to do it with the Bears. 

    "Personally, I don’t know if you call it selfishness or not, but I don’t want to be that guy who they feel like 'we shouldn't have got him,'" Allen said, per Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com. "When I signed, I wasn't going to be that guy that wasn't worth the money." 

    Allen signed a four-year, $32 million contract with the Bears. He has 128.5 career sacks and figures to be an integral member of a defense looking to rebound after a poor season last year.