Chicago Bears: New Faces Key To 2009-10 Season
This game really isn't important as it's just a preseason match-up, but for many of you Bears' honks that haven't been keeping up with the offseason, there will be many new names taking the field this weekend.
So here's a kind of offseason wrap-up that will help familiarize you readers with some of the new names you may (or may not) be hearing this season.
Jay Cutler, Starting QB — Cutler really shouldn't be anything new for Bears fans, but those of you who've been comatose for the last few months, Cutler was the Bears' prize offseason acquisition.
When Broncos new head coach Josh McDaniels tried to get his old quarterback (Matt Cassel) back, Cutler didn't like the lack of faith McDaniels had in him. After all, Cutler was coming off of a Pro Bowl season, and was being touted as one of the best young QB's in the league.
Feeling as if he was betrayed, Cutler demanded a trade, which was answered when the Bears' sent QB Kyle Orton and some draft picks to the Broncos for the former first-round pick.
Now Cutler has come to Chicago with more anticipation than 2008 Cubs' mid-season acquisition Rich Harden, and is already being praised as "The best quarterback the Bears have had since Sid Luckman (and for some Jim McMahon)."
Although the hype surrounding Cutler is enormous, it seems as if he has the tools to become one of the elite signal callers in the league.
Orlando Pace, Starting LT — The former Pro Bowler and future Hall of Famer was an under-the-radar free-agent acquisition for the Bears, mainly because of his injury-prone last few years.
Pace, however, could be a key on a revamped offensive line that in the last couple years has disappointed.
Chris Williams, Starting RT — The Bears 2008 first round draft pick spent most of the 2009 season rehabbing a sore back that had troubled him in the past.
Williams did get a few snaps towards the end of last season, but is going to be asked to do a lot more this season as he's assumed the starting right tackle position.
Frank Omiyale, Reserve LG — Omiyale, a free agent acquisition from the Carolina Panthers has taken a spot as the Bears top reserve o-lineman after many projected that he would be the opening day starter over third-year player Josh Beekman (and he still may).
Omiyale is a versatile lineman, and is a good insurance policy as he plays both the guard and tackle positions.
Given the amount of injuries that have plagued the Bears' o-line in the past, be prepared to see Omiyale start at least one game by season's end.
Earl Bennett, No. 2 WR — The Bears' third round draft pick in 2008 has impressed personnel so much that they've given him a shot as the number two wideout behind Devin Hester.
Bennett, who is currently the SEC's career leader in receptions (and he accomplished the feat in only three years), will team up with college teammate Jay Cutler, who quarterbacked him his freshman year at Vanderbilt.
Bennett isn't much of a burner, and relies more on good hands and route running and less on speed and athleticism, which should make him a good compliment to speedster Hester.
Brandon Rideau, No. 4 WR — A practice squad fixture the past few years (not counting his injury-plagued '07), Rideau looks like he's finally paid his dues and will be part of the active roster come week one.
The athletic wideout from Kansas has quickly become one of Cutler's favorite training camp targets and could supplant Rashied Davis as the Bears' top slot receiver.
Pisa Tinoisamoa, Starting OLB — Pisa led the Rams in tackles last season and comes to the Bears as a hopeful compliment to team staples Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, shoring up a spot that Hunter Hillenmeyer has failed to fit in.
He's always been known as undersized, but his quickness and athletic ability makes him a perfect fit in the Bears' style of defense.
Josh Bullocks, Reserve FS — With the departure of longtime Bear Mike Brown, GM Jerry Angelo felt like replacing him with another Cornhusker safety in Bullocks.
The free-agent acquisition from the Saints will be battling Danieal Manning for the starting free safety position.
Bullocks will definitely see the on special teams, and should see some time at either safety position throughout the season.
The Bears will obviously feature a much different look on the offensive side of the ball, while their defense, which was once touted as one of the best in the league, will be relying on most of the same players that were ranked 30th in the league in pass defense last season.
By the look of it, Angelo decided to go the route of scoring more points and taking pressure off of the ever-aging defense.
We'll have to wait and see if this new-style approach works for a team that historically has relied on defense and the running game.
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