5 Players Turning Heads at the Chicago Bears' Training Camp
It's been almost a week's worth of training camp, which means it's the perfect time to pick out the stars of camp.
OK, it's a little too early for that, but it's still a good time to go over who has impressed early on. It didn't take long for the defense to make an impact, but the bar was set low due to last year's performance.
Here are five players turning heads so far—largely dominated by this rebuilt Chicago Bears defense.
Cornerback Kyle Fuller
It didn't take long for first-round pick Kyle Fuller to show off his athletic skills. On the first day of camp, Fuller had two interceptions including a diving one against backup quarterback Jordan Palmer.
You would think Fuller would be intimidated by playing next to Pro Bowl veterans Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, but the rookie is looking like a prepared player who is ready to make an immediate impact.
The acrobatic and athletic skills Fuller has shown early on exemplify the kind of player he is. He will be a welcome addition to a defense that needs an injection of youth and vitality.
Cornerback Kelvin Hayden
Kyle Fuller's athleticism and youthful exuberance might be a welcome sight, but don't take for granted what a crafty veteran like Kelvin Hayden has done so far.
After missing all of last year with a severe hamstring injury, Hayden has bounced back to prove not only that he is healthy but can be a very valuable backup who can play at any corner spot.
Hayden has looked very sharp, especially in relief of Tim Jennings, who sat out with a sore quad. Depth is key for a contending team in a long season, and Hayden is showing early on just how important he will be this year.
Defensive End Jared Allen
Last year's defense lacked passion and intensity. New defensive end Jared Allen has brought those qualities to camp, and it hasn't gone unnoticed from head coach Marc Trestman.
“I thought Jared set the tone defensively with Lamarr [Houston] and the guys up front, Jeremiah [Ratliff] up front, just in the start of practice,” Trestman said, per Michael Wright of ESPN.com. “That was clear through his performance today that he not only started fast and finished strong.”
The Bears have seen Allen up close and personal plenty of times from his days in Minnesota, so they know his personality. Allen looks to be even more fired up to prove he can still play at a high level and probably wants to stick it to his former team.
Allen's high intensity can only help a defense in desperate need of some personality and life. It will pick up the rest of the unit and help him win over his new teammates sooner than later.
Defensive Tackle Nate Collins
Nate Collins played in only five games last year due to a torn ACL. He's now back and looking to make an early impact in a competitive defensive tackle rotation.
According to Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com, Collins stood out more than any other defensive lineman in one-on-one pass-rushing drills.
This is one of the few drills done in pads. Although it's an individual drill in a team sport, it's still a very good indication that Collins is healthy and ready to compete.
Jeremiah Ratliff is the team's only true consistent starter. Stephen Paea has been up and down, and the two rookies Will Sutton and Ego Ferguson will need time to develop. This means Collins will play a very important role as a rotational guy whom the coaches know they can count on.
Wide Receiver Marquess Wilson
The Bears run a timing offense, so it's no surprise they have had a slow start in camp. Nevertheless, second-year receiver Marquess Wilson still looks much improved.
Wilson worked out in the offseason with his Pro Bowl teammates Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Wilson has come into camp in great shape and has more confidence within the offense.
All eyes are on him to win the third receiver position, but he already is poised to take on the role.
It's going to be important for Wilson to continue to bond with quarterback Jay Cutler. He then needs to prove he can be depended on once the preseason gets going, but Wilson looks the part early on.