Rounding Up the Latest Chicago Bears Offseason Buzz
Mandatory mincamps will open all around the league this week, giving us another signal the NFL season is quickly approaching.
The Chicago Bears will take the field as they continue to work on team unification, a high-powered offense and rebuilt defense.
There is plenty of buzz surrounding the team, including a budding impact player on offense and potential rookie starter on defense. Here's all the buzz surrounding the Bears going into the week.
Marquess Wilson Is Going to Be Good
Many jealous NFL teams already think it's not fair for the Bears to have two stud receivers, but what if they have a third?
Second-year receiver Marquess Wilson has impressed early on, and many believe he's not only the clear-cut favorite to be the third receiver, but he's also going to be very good.
ESPN Chicago's Jon Greenberg recently wrote a column praising Wilson.
Everyone wants a Bears scoop, any scoop, so here goes mine: Receiver Marquess Wilson is going to be very good. …
He explodes off the line, runs correct routes and makes catches. So he's a receiver, basically. Playing in the shadow of the best receiver tandem in the league, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, he'll get plenty of looks in the slot and around the field as Cutler and coach Marc Trestman look for mismatches.
Palmer Opens the Door for Clausen
It came as a surprise to most when the Bears decided to sign former Notre Dame and Carolina Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen.
It's still unknown as to how he fits in with a team who drafted David Fales and still has Jordan Palmer, but Clausen could compete for the job of backup quarterback.
Via Larry Mayer of ChicagoBears.com, Clausen said:
Competition brings out the best in people. I’m looking forward to competing. But the only way I can compete is if I learn the offense. So I’ve just got to keep speeding that up and each day come in and work hard and get the offense down.
A recent chest injury to Palmer has kept him out of OTAs and has allowed Clausen to catch up on the playbook and get more reps. Still, Palmer expects to be ready for minicamp and is excited about his second year in Chicago, via Mayer:
It’s a nothing deal. If I played any other position, it wouldn’t be an issue. I’ll be ready to go for the minicamp. So just letting it breathe. It’s frustrating because it’s not a serious injury; they’re just pulling me out and letting me get a little bit of rest. …
I really feel like this is my second year in the system. To be able to spend the time I spent in the offseason—January, February, March—preparing for what was going to happen this year, watching every single snap that Josh and Jay took last offseason, it’s put me in a great spot to come in here and feel like I’m learning everything for the second time around as opposed to being introduced to it.
Cutler Is Ready for a Full 16
You have to go all the way back to 2009 to find when Jay Cutler last played a full season. Cutler missed five games last year. Josh McCown got the start while Cutler nursed injuries. McCown also came in relief for Cutler in two games he could not finish.
Head coach Marc Trestman believes Cutler has prepared himself to play a full 16 this year. Trestman spoke about the topic in a recent interview on SiriusXM NFL, via Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune:
Jay has really worked hard in the offseason, and he has always been a hard worker in his conditioning and his training, but he has really amped it up. He’s bigger, he’s stronger than a year ago, and he has really focused on staying physically well for the entire season. That’s No. 1 — we’ve got to keep him standing, keep him safe. And we see the improvements he’s made in working on different issues in his mechanics, and I think he’s feeling very comfortable back there in Year 2.
I thought that we took pretty darn good care of him. I think he would agree. We’re going to try to do better this time around, but we’re trying to get rid of those things. I can’t speak for the past; I can only speak for the past as recent as last year. It was really a unique, awkward injury that he had. Hopefully we can get him through safe and get him to play a 16-game season. I know that’s predominant on his mind. If we can keep him safe and healthy, we feel like we can be in every game.
Vereen Will Push to Be the Starter
Last year's starting free safety Chris Conte is still recovering from shoulder surgery. This has allowed fourth-round pick Brock Vereen to see some time with the first-team defense.
Vereen had this to say about his work with the first team, via Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago:
I wouldn't say [I'm] shocked [by the starters reps], but I know nothing is set. I'm just coming in and working hard. If that gets me on the field, then so be it. It's really starting to slow down for me out there. Now I'm able to react rather than to have to think about it.
Vereen lined up at free safety while Ryan Mundy was at strong safety. M.D. Jennings and Danny McCray took reps with the second team. Craig Steltz, like Conte, is sidelined with an injury.
Jennings Sees a Tougher Defense
The Bears set records on defense last season for all the wrong reasons. They gave up over 2,500 rushing yards and gave up an average of 29.9 points per game.
Through free agency and the draft, the Bears looked to rectify the issues on defense, and Tim Jennings sees a difference, via Larry Mayer of ChicagoBears.com:
Right now we look great. We look excellent on paper. We’re trying to put everything together right now as far as plugging everybody in the right positions. Everybody knows what Chicago football, Chicago defense is about, and we’re tougher. A lot of guys have a lot of fire, a lot of passion about this game, I think if we plug in the right guys that we need to we’ll take this defense back to where Chicago Bears football used to be.
Jennings has seen time at the nickelback position in OTAs while the Bears line first-round pick Kyle Fuller on the outside opposite veteran Charles Tillman.