Chicago Bears: 6 New Bears to Keep an Eye on This Weekend
This weekend football will finally arrive! The masses will rejoice! All is finally right with the world.
Between heckling your Packers fan oddball relative and indulging in game day snacks and ice-cold adult refreshments, do yourself the favor of taking the time to scout out some of the new blood in Chicago.
Of course everyone wants to see how the veterans and specific units look. How will Jay look in his first appearance since "The Game That Shall Not Be Named?" Will the offensive line hold up? Will the rest of the defensive line take some pressure off of Julius Peppers this year? How will Hester respond to the vote of confidence from Mike Martz, Lovie Smith and wide receivers coach Darryl Drake?
But some of the most interesting aspects of this game will revolve around some of the new additions to this team.
Follow me and we'll take a look at some of the more interesting new Bears players to keep your eye on this weekend.
RT Gabe Carimi
The Chicago Bears first-round selection from this year's draft is certainly someone to keep your eye on.
Carimi is currently the only knew player starting on a unit that was so adept at getting out of the way of opponents that the legendary Enrique Ponce was awed.
Originally tabbed as the future at the left tackle spot for Chicago, Carimi has now been named the right tackle at least for the immediate future.
Carimi apparently needs some work on his pass protection skills before a move to the blind side. But make no bones about it, Gabe is an absolute mauler in the running game, and it should be interesting to see what a road-grader style tackle looks like. We haven't seen one of those in Chicago since John Tait retired.
It should also be interesting to see Carimi's development as a pass-protector under Mike Tice's tutelage. And if nothing else, it should be nice to see what Matt Forte looks like rushing around a sealed edge.
WR Roy Williams
Not much of a surprise here. Fans have been clamoring for a legitimate wide receiver for years. The last 1,000-yard receiver the Bears sported was Marty Booker circa 2002. That's seven consecutive seasons in Chicago without a 1,000-yard receiver.
So the Bears go out and land former Martz-fense receiver Roy Williams. All the talk was about Roy knowing the offense and being the ideal candidate for Chicago.
Now, it appears that Roy isn't even in contention for the top spot. Devin Hester has been named the starting flanker in 2011 after a glowing review of his 2010 performance by offensive coordinator Mike Martz.
It appears that Roy will be battling last season's top receiver, Johnny Knox, for the split-end spot.
Williams may still be capable of putting up big numbers in this offense, but some note that he has lost a step since leaving Detroit in 2008.
All of this should make for an interesting sideshow to take in on Saturday.
S Chris Conte
Chris Conte is going to be closely watched for quite a while.
The Bears third-round selection this year is considered a reach, and those watching will be looking to Chris as the latest example for their arsenal as they discuss Jerry Angelo's genius/idiocy.
But Conte was rising quickly on more draft boards than Chicago's, and the Bears didn't have another selection until late in the fifth round. Skipping him in the third was a gamble the Bears weren't willing to take.
And as unknown as the Cal safety was to the masses, he didn't come as a last minute whim from the Bears. The bears thought highly enough of him that Jerry Angelo personally did eight games of scouting on him.
Chris has just one season at safety under his belt. Prior to that, he was a corner for Cal. His coverage skills are impressive and the Bears envision him as a true free safety.
With Danieal Manning's departure and Chris Harris's return to his natural strong safety position, the competition will likely be between Major Wright and Chris Conte.
Conte should make a game of it, and if for no other reason than to see if Angelo was a genius or just reaching, Chris should be an interesting preseason story.
WR Dane Sanzenbacher
The Bears are looking for receiving help, right?
One of the better undrafted free agents, Dane just might be the guy to force the Bears to carry six receivers into the season.
It's been reported that he's almost a lock to make the team and is even pushing to take reps away from fan favorite Earl Bennett.
But practice is one thing. We've heard similar buzz in the past over UDFA receivers like Mike Hass, Eric Peterman and Brandon Rideau just to be disappointed either in preseason games or when final cuts were completed.
Can Sanzenbacher be different? It should certainly make for some interesting viewing.
LB Dom DiCicco
Pitt safety Dom DiCicco could be an interesting undrafted rookie to keep an eye on.
"Wait, why does it say LB in the title and safety in the story?"
It seems that DeCicco is trying to transition from college safety to pro linebacker. At 6'3" and 232 pounds, he certainly has the size to make the move and a frame to add weight to. He's got decent speed and good coverage ability on top of being a punishing hitter.
Dom doesn't have the same chances of making the team that the aforementioned Dane Sanzenbacher has. So why is he on this watch list?
Because the Bears will be watching this kid closely. Brian Urlacher was a high school wide receiver and college safety before transitioning to the linebacker position in the NFL. With Urlacher aging and no replacement in site, the Bears are going to stare pretty hard at a kid trying to follow Urlacher's path into the NFL.
It could very well be why they signed him in the first place.
It's no secret that while Bob Babich is among the best linebacker coaches in the league, and if Babich or Lovie Smith feels that DeCicco has the talent for Babich to mold into a possible eventual replacement for 'Lach, then his chances of making the team will skyrocket. He's a longshot, but then, would it really be that interesting if he wasn't?
RB Marion Barber
Second generation NFL running back Marion Barber spent six seasons with the Cowboys punishing defenders with his viscous running style. And due to that hardcore all-out rushing style, many believe Barber might be done.
His last season in Dallas was his worst statistical outing of his career. Dallas figured he wasn't worth the cap space he was taking and shed him during their cap clearinghouse.
Yet the Bears, who were sorely in need of a hardcore, all-out, vicious, punishing running back thought enough of Barber to hand him a two-year contract.
And it was in all likelihood a solid move on their part.
But there are still reasonable questions as to whether Barber's high-torque style has emptied his tank, and we'll get a first taste of the answer to those questions come Saturday.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, it is your turn. Step up on that wonderful soapbox below known as the comment section and let us know how you feel. Who are you going to be watching on Saturday? Who peaks your interest? Give us your take!