The Bears reached the halfway point of their Bourbonnais portion of training camp with plenty of surprises, considering the veteran status of their roster. Some players who figured prominently into this year's plans have begun to slip. Others buried on the roster and seemingly clinging to a spot have dramatically risen to the top. Here is first-person assessment of what's happened so far in Bourbonnais. Turning heads Dropping stock
The Bears reached the halfway point of their Bourbonnais portion of training camp with plenty of surprises, considering the veteran status of their roster.
Some players who figured prominently into this year's plans have begun to slip. Others buried on the roster and seemingly clinging to a spot have dramatically risen to the top.
Here is first-person assessment of what's happened so far in Bourbonnais.
- Wide receiver Earl Bennett. Bennett never caught a pass in 2008 as he struggled to grasp the offense. Whether he's struggling with this offense or is simply behind because he missed some of the off-season work due to arthroscopic knee surgery, there's no doubt he has made little impact. The depth chart lists him as a fourth-string receiver one year after he made 54 catches for 717 yards. If not for the quad injury that set back Juaquin Iglesias earlier in camp, Bennett might be far down the list. There is still question as to whether his style—a possession guy more than a speed receiver—fits into this offense.
- Safety Al Afalava. This might be shocking if the Bears hadn't acquired safety help, but it is still somewhat surprising to see a player who started 13 games in 2009 listed as the fourth-string free safety. Afalava seems more suited to strong safety because of his hitting ability.
- Linebacker Nick Roach. When camp started Roach took all the first-team snaps at strong side linebacker. Pisa Tinoisamoa started getting first-team snaps about five days into camp and hasn't come out of the spot. Roach is solid and can provide good backup help, so his roster spot doesn't seem to be in jeopardy. However, the more Tinoisamoa plays with the first team, the less likely he's going to give it up.
- Guard Johan Asiata. The darling of OTAs is now providing backup help at guard. Whether or not he remains wit the team is uncertain because they have an experienced guard who is a backup center, as well, in Josh Beekman. It becomes a matter of how many offensive linemen they keep.
- Guard/center Josh Beekman. He seemed in command early on in camp, but Louis' rise to prominence has left Beekman looking more like the team's center of the future than a possible starter at left guard.
Watch out for ...
- In preseason games, some players stand out who hadn't done anything in scrimmages. Here's a list of players who've flashed some potential and could be making big plays in the charades known as preseason contests.Wide receiver Greg Mathews. The undrafted free agent out of Michigan got off to a slow start, but made the catch of camp on Monday with a diving, fingertip snare of Dan LeFevour's pass. The 6'2", 209-pounder put together three straight outstanding multi-catch scrimmages and likely will get a chance to show more against the Chargers in the second half Saturday.
- Running back Kahlil Bell. He produced a 72-yard run on his first carry last year, and in camp has made sharp cuts while keeping a good, physical edge. A running back spot on the roster may be between Bell and Garrett Wolfe. The passing game is Wolfe's forte, but Bell is definitely the tougher back.
- Cornerback Woodny Turenne. He is possibly the team's fastest defensive player and usually surfaces during preseason games when his natural ability can give him an edge over some players who are on the fringe of opposing rosters.
Tackle Frank Omiyale hasn't had another false start penalty since his early skittish bout. Also, his pass blocking seems to have improved as it's rare when someone comes off the right end and has a shot at the passer.