Breaking Down the Chicago Bears' Biggest Training Camp Projects
Training camp is time best spent preparing your team for a long season, but it's also about development.
The time in camp and the preseason are the only periods where a player can get a decent amount of work in at the speed and competitive nature that mimics the regular season.
The Bears have plenty of projects on their hands as they approach camp. There are a couple of questionable starters and a backup quarterback situation that is completely in the dark right now.
Here are the Bears' five biggest projects heading into training camp.
Free Safety Brock Vereen
If Brock Vereen is going to be the starting free safety as a rookie, then the Bears are going to have to do a lot to prepare him.
There's no doubt Vereen has the physical and intellectual skills to do the job, but he's going to have to adjust to the calls and speed of the game quickly.
If you want to play free safety in a division that features Aaron Rodgers and Matt Stafford, then you have to be on point with your adjustments and position. You stare down Rodgers in the backfield or take a bad angle on a receiver and he'll torch you for six points; just ask Chris Conte.
The most work for Vereen will be in the film room. He has to be a real student of the game and make sure when he's on the field there isn't anything he's not prepared for.
It's a big project taking a mid-round rookie to first-year starter, but the Bears are confident they can do it.
Quarterbacks Jimmy Clausen and Jordan Palmer
Everybody remembers how well Josh McCown played in relief of Jay Cutler last year. Head coach Marc Trestman will have his hands full molding either Jimmy Clausen or Jordan Palmer into the next McCown.
Palmer knows the offense, but he lacks the experience McCown had. Palmer has only thrown 15 passes in four career regular-season games. He hasn't seen any regular-season action since 2010.
Clausen has seen his fair share of regular-season action, but it wasn't very good. He has a 1-9 record as a starter with three touchdowns and nine interceptions.
It's slim pickings for Trestman, but McCown wasn't exactly a star before he worked with Trestman. McCown's career record as a starter was 13-20 before last season. Trestman is hoping to develop one or both options in the same mold as he did with McCown.
Wide Receiver Marquess Wilson
Marquess Wilson has a very important role in this offense. As the season goes along, more teams are going to force Jay Cutler away from Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall.
Wilson has to be the unquestioned third receiver. He needs to have the confidence and skills needed to keep a defense honest. If Wilson is a threat, then opposing teams can't completely roll coverage to Jeffery and Marshall.
Wilson has a great deal of talent and physical skills. He's going to have to work on the little nuances that make a receiver effective.
Breaking routes, where to sit against the defense and body control are all key skills for a slot receiver. Wilson has to continue to develop his relationship with Cutler as well. All of these are major factors as the Marquess Wilson project progresses in year two.
Linebacker Jon Bostic
Year one of the Jon Bostic project didn't go according to plan. He was thrust into a starting role earlier than expected and went on to struggle mightily all year.
In year two, Bostic moves from inside linebacker to outside. He will be flanked by veterans D.J. Williams and Lance Briggs.
Having the two veterans around him will be huge for Bostic. He struggled last year when he had to make all the calls, read the play and react. This year, he can just go out and attack the football without having to worry about the cerebral side of the game he struggled with last season.
It's important for the Bears to get Bostic back to being a confident player who knows he can play on this level. Doing so starts with putting him in the right position to succeed right off the bat.
Linebacker Shea McClellin
When you look at this roster, there's no question Shea McClellin is the team's biggest project going into the season.
The former first-round pick has struggled in his career and is one more season away from carrying the dreaded bust label.
When camp begins, McClellin will show up slimmer than seasons past, and he will battle it out at a new position. He is not a defensive end in this league and probably never should have spent his first two years there.
It's going to be a tough project turning McClellin into the joker linebacker. He has to be the guy who keeps teams guessing. Will he rush the quarterback, drop back in coverage or shadow a tight end?
These are all areas McClellin has shown he can't do in the NFL, so it will be interesting to see if he can put it all together now.
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