Rounding Up Latest Chicago Bears Offseason Buzz
There's plenty of news to go around for the Chicago Bears at this stage of the offseason.
This isn't necessarily the case for most teams. There's a contract holdout here or there and a few new faces in new places, including rookies, but otherwise this is the low-volume layoff for the NFL between the draft and training camps.
Except in the Windy City.
With the Bears, we're talking about a team still licking its wounds from one of the most injury-riddled campaigns in its history. We're also talking about an influx of new rookies and complete overhauls of positional groups such as the secondary—not to mention pretty much the entire offense.
Given the wealth of change surrounding the team on a daily basis right now, it can prove difficult to keep up with all the buzz.
Let's cut out the legwork and take a deeper dive at some of the most important details to know right now.
Changes Along the Offensive Front
This isn't exactly breaking news because we've known it has been in the pipelines for a while now, but Bears head coach John Fox confirmed this week he's swapping around his guards on the offensive line.
Chicago has moved star guard Kyle Long around in the past to mediocre results, such as when he ranked as the No. 27 tackle in the NFL at Pro Football Focus after an odd move to the outside.
This time, Fox sounds like he wants to keep Long on the inside, per the Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs:
"You want flexibility. You don't want as much flexibility as we had to use a year ago because we had to play so many guys due to injury. But we're messing around with (Sitton) and Kyle both playing opposite sides. ... We'll get those looks in camp. We (have) plenty of time."
This time the potential move makes plenty of sense. Josh Sitton played well last year after joining the team right before the season, but he's more of a run-blocking guard who might play better on the right side. Long is the more athletic of the two, perhaps better for slotting him on the left side.
Either way, as Fox said, the team has plenty of time. It's worth toying with the lineup now in an effort to better protect a new franchise quarterback(s).
Big Names Could Miss Start of Camp...
If potential position swaps aren't great buzz, it's still leagues better than injury notes.
And like it or not, the Bears have a ton of those after finishing last year with one of the highest salary-cap totals sitting on injured reserve.
Tuesday, names such as Long, Sitton, and more notably linebacker Danny Trevathan and tight end Zach Miller couldn't go thanks to carryover injuries from last season.
Fox described Sitton, Trevathan and Miller as "cutting it close," according to the Chicago Sun-Times' Adam L. Jahns.
There are silver linings here. Sitton's issue doesn't sound overly serious, and though the Bears would like to have him develop a rapport with the new quarterbacks quickly, Miller's potential absence isn't as critical as it could be thanks to new names such as Dion Sims and Adam Shaheen.
Trevathan is a different story. He's one of the better inside linebackers in the NFL right now. Nick Kwiatkoski played well enough last year, and the team added depth pieces like Dan Skuta, but Trevathan isn't so easy to replace—so the Bears have to hope his recovery gets him back in the swing of things soon.
The march toward the July 26 report date is, in a word, interesting.
...but Not Cameron Meredith
Not all injury news has to register as a negative. In fact, Fox gave fans an assurance this week—wideout Cameron Meredith will be back in time for the start of training camp.
Zach Zaidman of CBS 2 in Chicago captured Fox's comments on Meredith: "It was very fixable. He'll be back in time for training camp."
Meredith had suffered a thumb injury, which is obviously a pretty big deal for a guy who makes his money catching passes.
From the sounds of it, though, the Bears and Meredith dodged a major bullet here. After a strong breakout performance last year given the weapons around him, the 24-year-old heads into next season as the offense's No. 1 wideout.
The Bears don't just expect big things from Meredith—they expect him to help along a new-look offense led by a new quarterback, if not two.
Let's get to what fans really want to hear about—their flashy new top-two pick and potential franchise quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky.
So far, though, things have gone about as expected in Chicago. Fox and his staff continue to roll with veteran Mike Glennon as the starter right now.
Trubisky has simply been hard at work trying to adjust to the NFL when he's not looking for a new home in the area, as a writeup by the Associated Press (via USA Today) noted.
As for Trubisky himself, he doesn't mind the pace at which the Bears have brought him along so far.
"I would say they're definitely giving me room to grow, which is nice, so they're not rushing me," Trubisky said, per the report. "I don't feel any pressure. They're not putting pressure on me, but I put pressure on myself. I'm trying to be ready as soon as possible, so if they ever need me I can go in there. That's just how I am. I'm a perfectionist. I'm gonna try to get it right the first time and keep improving every time."
Far reaches of the internet will continue to hype up the idea Trubisky could steal the starting gig from Glennon. This isn't meant to say he isn't capable of doing so, but it simply seems unlikely given the money invested in the veteran and the behavior of the team so far.
The media will blow this up over the summer as a quarterback competition. And maybe it is. For now, though, Trubisky doesn't mind he's restricted to baby steps—and fans shouldn't either.
Kendall Wright's Gigantic Chip
Chicago's signing of Kendall Wright this offseason didn't make a big splash.
Call it understandable, as the wide receiver fizzled out last year, and Bears fans were distracted by watching Alshon Jeffery leave and the front office missing on making a big splash to replace him.
But it's time to start paying attention, and Wright agrees.
"What motivates me the most is I probably was the best receiver on the Titans roster last year and I was playing like 10 plays a game," he said, per Kevin Fishbain of Pro Football Weekly. "That's how it goes."
Wright might not be wrong, but his inability to stay on the field for whatever reason is why he landed in Chicago at a cheap price. But Bears fans should feel hyped about the addition considering he had the best year of his career in 2010 under current Chicago offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, where he posted 1,079 yards and two touchdowns.
From the sound of it, the 27-year-old has a huge chip on his shoulder and is out to prove the last few years were flukes. A reliable slot presence would work wonders for the Bears moving forward, so it's time to start keeping a close eye on Wright.
Adam Shaheen Making Waves
It isn't too much of an exaggeration to suggest the aforementioned Shaheen could end up as the highest-impact rookie for the Bears next year.
The knee-jerk reaction to Shaheen seemed to be a negative one on draft day because he hailed from the small school of Ashland. But a 6'6", 278-pound tight end is a 278-pound tight end.
"Our scouting department did a great job as far as evaluating him. (He possesses) a lot of the tools it takes to play in our league at his position. He's picked things up very quick. He's smart, he's big. A lot of times, tight ends that cross over from college football to the NFL, the hardest thing is the blocking. But he has a lot of that measurables that it takes to do it."
Remember, Miller remains on the roster as a passing target, and the Bears brought in the aforementioned Sims because he's one of the league's better blockers at the position, not to mention he's budding as a receiver.
Given the above praise and his apparent pace at adapting, Shaheen could clutch the top spot on the depth chart by the time the regular season rolls around.
Given the hints in Shaheen's favor already, it's clear tight end will play host to one of the most interesting roster battles of the summer.
And no matter who emerges the winner, the quarterbacks win above all else.