Tucker Confirms Defensive Changes and Other Bullets

MelTuckerHopefully everyone had a great weekend! The Bears rookie minicamp finished up, and sadly, my pet prospect (Indiana safety Greg Heban) didn’t make the grade for the Bears. (Not that I think that’s a bad decision; I’m certainly not qualified. I just liked watching him play in college.) According to Brad Biggs, the Bears did sign at least two players out of minicamp: North Texas safety Marcus Trice and Louisville running back Senorise Perry. Both players will head to camp with the Bears, and given the relative strength of their respective positional groups, I think Trice has to fancy his chances of cracking the roster more than Perry.

  • Among Perry’s competition, former NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch is certainly the highest-profile candidate. As Adam Hoge writes for CBS Chicago, the key to Lynch making the roster and being a potentially useful offensive player will be his ability to contribute on special teams. As a Heisman Trophy-finalist college quarterback, Lynch obviously wasn’t asked to do a lot of blocking or tackling, so he’s a bit behind the curve.
  • ESPN Chicago’s Michael C. Wright has a nice rundown of the potential changes in store for the Bears defensive scheme. Mel Tucker sounds as though he wants to make a lot of changes, and after last year’s performance, I’d think that’s a good approach. From the piece, I received the impression that while the changes wouldn’t be sweeping, they will be felt at all levels of the defense. Tucker notes that the high level of defensive personnel turnover (both coaches and players) helps to facilitate this sort of change. This is Mel Tucker’s defense now; he’s no longer beholden to Lovie Smith’s scheme, and he’ll benefit from a wealth of new defensive talent. I’m very interested to see how the Bears look defensively under Tucker; due to injuries (and the Bears effort to maintain defensive continuity from Lovie’s system) I’m still not really sure I know what a Mel Tucker defense looks like.
  • Marc Trestman plans on giving Jordan Palmer the first crack at the backup quarterback position, as noted by Adam Jahns. I think Palmer has a leg up at this point, given that the Bears certainly view themselves as a contending team; his veteran status probably provides a more reassuring presence. That said, Palmer has thrown all of 15 passes in the NFL, so it’s not as though he’s a seasoned, tested player. Considering the Bears spent a sixth-round choice on David Fales, Palmer probably shouldn’t be too comfortable.
  • Patrick Finley wrote a quick piece for the Sun-Times on the relationship between second-round choice Ego Ferguson and undrafted free agent signing Christian Jones.
  • The Bears released punter Drew Butler, according to ESPN Chicago’s Michael C. Wright. Butler was signed to a reserve/futures contract this offseason, but his chances of making the team were drastically diminished when Chicago selected Pat O’Donnell in the sixth round of the draft.
  • Speaking of O’Donnell, Jeff Dickerson wrote that he’s got some advice from the veteran specialists while at minicamp this weekend. Dickerson also reports that O’Donnell repeatedly hit the roof of the Bears indoor practice facility. Personally, I’m hoping he hits the Dallas scoreboard at some point. Remember when everyone assumed that would happen repeatedly, and it was treated as some sort of “Thing To Worry About”? Has it even happened in a game?
  • Finally, the National Football Post’s Joe Fortenbaugh has the Las Vegas Hotel Sportsbook NFL over/under lines for the upcoming season. The Bears sit at 8, which strikes me as low; I’d probably put it at 9. (Note: I’m not a professional gambler.) Looking at the other divisional teams, the Packers are at 10, the Lions match the Bears with 8, and the Vikings sit at 6. Play at your own risk.

Jay Rigdon is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation Bears, and can also be found @BearsBN on Twitter.

199 responses to “Tucker Confirms Defensive Changes and Other Bullets”

  1. frank

    No, don’t want locker room problems. I hadn’t heard much about that, but then again, I pay little attention to anything having to do with Santonio Holmes . . .

    1. mdavis

      Yeah he may be done. With hisg his injuriffsdgfdgfds and past….never know though. I think the Bears will stand pat at the position into camp. Good mix already.

      1. mdavis

        …. i have no idea what happened in that post. should say:

        yeah he may be done. with his injuries and past…

  2. mdavis

    minicamp starting up today. lookin forward o hearing whos running with the 1s at LB and in the secondary. we’ll see if they stick with what was going on in OTAs

    1. frank

      That’ll be interesting. I’m thinking it has to be Mundy & Vereen at safety. The most interesting one for me will be what they do at LB.

      1. mdavis

        agreed, sounds like Mundy has been at SS since day 1, and Vereen jumped Jennings in OTAs.

        Agreed. last OTA they went Briggs-DJ-McClellan, with Briggs-Bostic in the nickel. But Michael Wright seems convinced Bostic is going to be on that first group at the Sam. Either way, I think it could be safe to say Bostic will be on the field in the nickel regardless. Of course a lot can change.

  3. mdavis

    according to the espn guys tweets, Clausen looked a lot better than Palmer today.

  4. frank

    Well, Palmer is coming off an injury. But Clausen actually has starting experience–he wasn’t good, but he has experience. That said, I’m all for getting the best people in to do the job, and if that’s Clausen, so be it (despite my incredulity when they signed him).

    1. mdavis

      Yea, as much as i dislike Clausen, if he outplays Palmer, #1, what’s that say bout Palmer’s ability? and #2, gotta go with him. Cutler has gotten banged up past few years, so they need a guy who can come in and keep them afloat. Still think a presence in the meeting room will hold at least SOME water. But how much, obviously i have no clue. 1 of the 5 will be cut after this 3 day minicamp. I think its either Johnson (once again…TE?? why not!?) or Clausen. Obviously not Cutler and you wont cut a kid you just drafted. And I think their respect for Palmer will at least keep him in the battle through the preseason.

      1. frank

        I’m guessing it has to be Johnson they cut.

        1. mdavis

          i’d be schocked if it wasn’t.

          but, side note. Texans just cut TJ Yates…I’d prefer him to both Clausen and Palmer. Starting experience. Played in the playoffs. Did an alright job. Stil youthful.

          1. frank

            AND–they named Ryan Fitzpatrick their starting QB. Already. Yates would be a good pickup, I think.

            1. mdavis

              Yeah seemed a bit soon but I haven’t understood how they’ve attacked the QB position all off season, but that’s just me. Would really like Yates a lot. Doubt they would another yet another guy into the fold though. and already missing OTAs and, most likely all of minicamp, I just don’t see it. but never know.

              1. frank

                No, it’s not likely they’ll bring anyone else in at this point–at least at that position. Also saw that the Browns cut Earl Bennett.

                1. mdavis

                  yeah earl has had quite the tumble. should have taken the pay cut and stayed put in Chicago. The browns are a WR desperate team, so it says a lot they cut him. I suppose there is a slight chance he comes back, competes for that 4th spot with Josh Morgan especially if Morgans legal troubles turn out to be serious. Tough to say though.

                  From what I read yesterday, they stuck with Bostic coming in on nickel, which I like a lot. Hayden was the dime back. Didn’t see anything bout the safety pairing, though I still believe it’ll be Mundy and Vereen, but I’m interested to see what happens with Conte. He was pretty solid a couple of years ago, until he was exposed with everyone else last season. we’ll see. Also watched Cutler’s presser. Forgive me if I’m being a bit of a homer, but man, I just think he’s poised for a huge year. He seems comfortable finally. He’s up there smiling and laughing, praising other QBs on the roster, stuff we wouldnt even think of seeing a few years ago. Obviously the word mature is thrown around a lot, but he just seems finally comfortable where he’s at.. Nice to see. Also, recommend checking out on the bears website, they’re doing a mini video series on rookie minicamp. real short 5 min videos, but they’re pretty cool.

                  1. frank

                    You have to wonder about what he’d contribute even if he did come back–as you said, Cleveland’s desperate for wide receivers and they still cut him. Josh Gordan’s in trouble, Austin Miles isn’t near what he used to be, Nate Burleson is what he is–and that’s all they have.

                    Trestman’s said that although there’s competition, Williams has the inside track at MLB. The experience factor comes into play there, plus the fact that he wasn’t bad last year before the injury. I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s the starting MLB when the season starts.

                    I agree that it’s got to be Mundy and Vereen right now–and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

                    As to Cutler–having a family will grow you up real fast. I’ve thought all along that a lot of the criticism he’s taken has been unfair anyway. Do I think he’s in the same class as Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Brees, and Brady? No. But if he’s in that group right below them, this offense will be really, really good.

                    1. mdavis

                      Yea, I agree. But after Morgan at that 4th spot, you’re lookin at a group of Williams, Weems, Bellamy, Spurlock, Tolliver, Edwards. I think Wilson has that slot on lock down, but it wouldn’t hurt to bring Bennett in for camp…also wouldn’t be a huge deal to me if they didnt. Though he does have punt returner ability.

                      I have no problem with Williams as the MLB, but at this point he’s more of a 2 down backer. So if they were to pull him off the field and bring in Bostic (or keep Bostic on the field, if he’s playing Sam), I like that type of rotation.

                      right there with ya. Cutler was dogged on far far too much by fans and media. He got the hell beat out of him his first 4-5 years here. I think he’s in that tier just below, and has a chance to rise to the top of that 2nd tier with a healthy season. I’m looking forward to training camp, I’m gonna head down and take in a practice for sure.

  5. frank

    Just read an article by Michael Roland where he says that the LBs will be the key to the Bears’ defensive turnaround. He points out that the defense was 12th against the run before Briggs was injured, and that Williams played well against both the run and the pass before his injury. He believes that while Bostic is the future at LB, McClellin will be given every chance to win the Sam spot, and will do so. Bostic will rotate in while he continues to learn from Briggs and Williams, and Greene has to show he can get off a block or he may not even make the team.

    I’ve always thought that the DL is the key, and I still think it all starts there with the pressure they can generate on the QB. That said, it’ll be huge if the LBs can keep running plays from reaching that 3rd level, and at the same time, control the 2nd level in the passing game. I believe that Williams will probably be the starting MLB, mainly because of his experience at this point. I think, if all I’ve read from OTAs etc., is true that McClellin will end up as the Sam–if–and this is a big if–he actually has the instincts, athleticism, and ability to disrupt plays that they thought they were drafting. If not, I’m fine with Bostic there–as I’ve said before, I don’t care who it is as long as he can play the position. But I would not be surprised if, down the road, they draft a MLB and have Bostic playing the Will after Briggs is finished.

    1. mdavis

      Hm interesting. I mean, the LBs were just as much a mess last year as the line. So I could see that. I think you’re right that McClellan is going to be the Sam. I’ve also read that Christian Jones, running with the 2s, has looked very good (shirts/shorts caveat applies). I think, ideally, the LB rotation will be what we saw in OTAs, with Briggs-DJ-McClellan, and Bostic coming in for nickel. 1 it keeps everyone fresh. 2 it’ll allow the Bears to utilize these guys strengths. DJ is 32, and been injury prone the last few years. Having him come out for nickel packages and bringing in the much more athletic Bostic would help everyone. But we’ll see. I don’t think Greene is that in jeopardy, but I could be wrong. its rare to cut a 4th rd pick in just his second year. He’s a 4 phase ST, and he can back up all 3 spots. But that’ll be a good battle for sure.

      1. frank

        I’d have to agree with your assessment of things. I am very interested in how Christian Jones does–prior to the draft, I’d heard he was a 2nd or 3rd round talent. It would be unusual to cut a 4th rounder like Greene that soon, but a lot depends on how many LBs they’re going to carry. Bottom of the roster LBs and WRs are often kept for STs. That he’s a 4 phase ST guy can only help–especially given how bad ST were last year. If they’re not carrying a KR specialist, that’ll help his cause.

  6. mdavis

    Sounds like Claussen will be headed to camp. I like that Trestman pointed out the meeting room first and foremost. I’ve kind of been concerned about that from day 1, but sounds like he’s fit in well so that’s good. Has to be Jerrod Johnson getting cut. I just don’t see any other angle. It would be a shock if they cut Palmer.

    Vereen still ran with the 1s, has to be the favorite heading into training camp in July. I’m still interested in seeing what Lynch can do in pads. I think he’ll transition fairly smoothly, and he offers a few unique skills. Not to mention, and I’m not saying they would do this, but perhaps if he makes the squad, he gets a small package of plays, and is the emergency QB. 1 more spot on the gameday roster you can dress someone.

    1. frank

      Brad Biggs, I think, said he thinks Clausen will be the #2, Palmer the #3, Johnson would get cut, and Fales would be placed on the practice squad. I don’t know–with the value of QBs these days, I don’t think Fales would stay on the practice squad long before someone offers him a roster spot.

      Lynch is an interesting option. But if he becomes the emergency QB–basically the 3rd QB–what do you do with the one that isn’t the backup? Cut Palmer/Clausen and move Fales to the practice squad? There again, I think, someone else’ll snap him up. Of course, he did last til the 6th round for a reason, I guess.

      1. mdavis

        Yeah I don’t think they’d be able to get Fales through waivers. Someone would pick him up. And what I meant by Lynch being the emergency guy, is you still keep 3 QBs on the 53 man, but I believe you can only dress 46. So, theoretically, instead of using 1 of those 46 spots on the 3rd string QB, they can dress an extra WR, LB, CB etc, and just prepare Lynch in case of an emergency. So technically he’d be “4th” string. I mean, chances are if you’re on your 3rd qb, you’re losing that game anyways.

        1. frank

          I see. And yeah, if you’re on your 3rd QB, things have been–bad.

          1. mdavis

            Jerrod Johnson was cut, no surprise there. Cattouse cut though that was heard a few days prior. And Idonije, maybe a little bit of surprise, was cut. I think the writing was on the wall when they drafted Ferguson and Sutton. Woulda been tough for him to crack the rotation with Ratliff-Paea, Collins, Sutton, Ferguson, and the potential of Houston bumping inside on nickel. Also cut Fendi Onobun, which I was slightly surprised by. Held on to him all last year, great physical ability, just had that problem with catching the football (kind of a big one). Must not of made enough progress. That #2 TE spot will porbably be between Rosasrio and Miller, though I’d expect them to maybe sign another guy to bring in for compeittion. Signed a DE from Rutgers Merril, I know nothing of him. And O’Neill, a LB from Wisconsin. More than likely just a couple of camp bodies for competition.

            1. frank

              I hadn’t heard about Izzy. Too bad–great guy from what I’ve heard, and a good player in the right situation. But yes, it would’ve been hard for him to make the rotation. Might try to keep Onabun on the practice squad.

              1. mdavis

                Not positive, but I think Fendi might be out of P-squad eligibility. I’d still look for them to add another TE, at least to compete. we’ll see though.

  7. mdavis

    Mannelly retiring. Class act. And something everyone has taken for granted for 16 years is now something to watch. LS is crucial. got a couple guys in camp to battle it out.

    1. frank

      Yes–a class act for sure. I think everyone had taken him for granted until seeing Desmond Clark fill in when Mannelly was hurt that one year. Don’t get me wrong–Desmond was a good player–but at least I didn’t take Mannelly’s abilities for granted after that!

  8. frank

    Non-football related story, but a good one, I think. A woman on Twitter said that her goal in life was to marry a Detroit Red Wings player. She got a response from the Red Wings organization. It was: “Dear ______, please aspire to greater things than this.” I don’t like the Red Wings–but that was good.

    1. mdavis

      hahaha, that is great.

  9. mdavis

    Mike Wright at ESPNChi seems to think there’s a chance the chart goes Cutler-Clausen-Palmer, with them stashing Fales on the P-squad. I’m just not convinced they would get him through waivers, but its possible.Then again, he also seems to think Jerrod Johnson is still on the roster, and we “shouldn’t count him out”, and he was cut last week. I still think they will bring in another TE, at least for camp. Behind Bennett, Miller-Rosario-Mulligan battling it out. Mulligan is more of a blocker if I remember correctly.

    Also fun fact: nfl.com actually listed Jay Cutler as a darkhorse MVP candidate. first time I’ve ever seen outside media types praise Cutler really…

    1. frank

      It could go Cutler-Clausen-Palmer, but I don’t think Fales gets through waivers either. Are any of those TEs pass catchers? I think Rosario has some pass catching ability, but if Bennett goes down, that’s a big drop off.

      If that’s what Wright said, maybe he should be paying a little more attention. How hard is it to look at an updated team roster? I wonder, sometimes, how these guys keep their jobs.

      A darkhorse MVP candidate? How interesting. I wonder how many critics/writers/experts will shut up if he actually wins it . . .

      1. mdavis

        Yeah Fales would get scooped up i think. Especially if he plays well in preseason. I thought Miller had some receiving skills, but looking at his career stats maybe not. Rosario is probably the closest thing, so yeah hopefully Bennett can stay healthy.

        Yeah that was weird. Especially since the cuts happened last Thursday..

  10. frank

    Saw an article by Adam Jahns–he mentions a number of interesting things. At LB, right now it looks like Williams as the starter in the base, Bostic in the nickel, and McClellin as a rush LB. Clausen is being brought into camp as much for what he brought to the QB room as for what he did on the field–maybe even moreso. Fuller has looked good, but he’s also been torched quite a bit by Jeffery and a much improved Wilson. No one has stepped up yet for the role of kick returner or long snapper. He also says that there’s some chemistry being developed on the DL, especially among those who look to be starting–Allen, Houston, Ratliffe, and Paea.

    1. mdavis

      Fuller is getting some great experience going against those 3 guys in practice. Only going to help him once the season starts. I like that LB rotation. Kind of puts all the guys in the best position to use their skills. The returner battle, I hope, is sorted out.

      Bears signed Adrian Wilson, and a TE i’ve never heard of.

      Wilson was a very good player, but I kind of think he’s past his time. More of an in the box type player, so unless they weren’t happy with Mundy, sounds just like veteran insurance in camp.

      1. mdavis

        Mastrund is the TE. Sounds like a pure blocker. 7 career receptions.

        1. frank

          Wilson does look like a veteran insurance pickup, as you said. Mastrud’s just gotta be a camp guy–most of his career has been on practice squads, if I’m not mistaken.

          1. mdavis

            sounds like DE Washington got arrested. didnt read any details, but that’s probably not a positive in his quest to make the squad

            1. frank

              I read that it was speeding and driving on a suspended license, with no other details available as of yet. Seems to me that with the competition he’s facing on the field, it won’t help to be stupid off of it.

              1. mdavis

                yeah, just not sure I see a fit for him. DE is crowded, and if he couldnt crack that rotation last year, I don’t have much hope.

                1. frank

                  Well, he’s still around–at least right now. The knock on him was that he couldn’t change direction quickly enough. Maybe they move him to LB? He played some of that at Georgia, didn’t he? But wouldn’t that require even more directional shifting? Maybe a flt-out situational rush LB? You’re right though–unless he shows some big time improvement, he’s not seeing the field as a defensive lineman this year–not with the pickups they’ve made so far.

                  1. mdavis

                    Yeah I think the big thing with him was he was a tweener. a work out warrior but no true position. So i’m not real sure what they can do with him. Let him go to camp and battle it out.

      2. frank

        You mean Adrian Wilson the safety, correct? Not TE?

        It can only help Fuller in game competition, which is the most important thing–but it sure makes it hard for him to make a good impression in camp when he’s going against those guys all the time.

        1. mdavis

          Yep, Wilson the 5-time Pro Bowler, spent most of his career with Arizona. Had a torn achilles last year with the Pats. No harm to bring him in for competition, see how he does. But my expectations aren’t high for 35 yr old, coming off a torn achilles who’s primarily an in the box type now. We’ll see.

  11. frank

    ESPN Chicago reports that Terrence Toliver is a “dark horse” candidate to make the roster. He has size–6’5 and 205 and had a pretty good final year at LSU . . .

    1. mdavis

      certainly matches up with the size factor. they keep bringing him back too, this is his 2nd? 3rd? camp with the team. So they see something there. I think once again its going to come down to the numbers game. How many WR are they going to keep? Obvious locks are Marshall, Jeffrey, Wilson. I think Morgan makes it as #4. Leaves Weems, Williams, Spurlock, Edwards, Bellamy, Tolliver. I’ll take a premature guess and say 6 WR break camp. 1 of Weems and Williams would seemingly get cut, they seem pretty similiar. I’ll actually lean towards Williams making the roster. So that leaves Tolliver battling out with those other 3. The returner battle, while Tolliver won’t factor in, I think has a big impact on him having a legit shot. Spurlcok and Edwards will be in that hunt so it’ll be fun to see how it plays out.

      1. frank

        They carried 6 last year, so that seems a good bet this year. Morgan? Ok–that’s reasonable. Weems/Williams? I haven’t seen anything of Williams, but Weems has a pretty good ST history–tossup right now. Bellamy, Edwards or Spurlock do nothing for me. Toliver has size and seems to fit what they’re doing, but being that low on the depth chart means ST duty–that, I think, will be a major factor. I think Spurlock and Edwards will figure into the returner battle, but right now, it’s probably between Weems and Williams–and Ford has some experience there too.

  12. mdavis

    Other battles I’m really looking fwd too:

    QB (obviously)
    RB (Jordan Lynch going to get a legit shot? Who backs up Forte b/t Ford and Carey?)
    S (Mundy and Vereen seem the front runners, Conte coming back, Wilson just added)
    LB (the obvious)

    dang. is it time to put the pads on yet?

    1. frank

      Those will be good ones. Some guesses–

      QB–They keep Clausen and Fales
      RB–Carey backs up Forte; Lynch makes roster, Ford cut unless he makes a very strong ST statement–then it might be Lynch who gets cut
      S–Wilson takes SS if healthy; Mundy otherwise, and Vereen at FS (who gets cut? Steltz?)
      LB–Briggs, Williams and McClellin at LB, with Bostic coming in on the nickel. Christian Jones makes the roster

      1. mdavis

        I’d say you’re right. Sounds like Clausen has been crisp, Palmer rusty. Fales will be on the team.
        RB- I think you’re right, but I wouldn’t count out Ford just yet. I think he makes the team, and Lynch is more than likely destined for the P-squad. I know I’ve read some scouts actually think Ford has greater potential than Carey. Not saying that’s the case, but he brings a nice skill set to the table. It’ll be a good battle.
        S- I’m stickin with Mundy and Vereen. I like Wilson, but 2 years ago, the last season he was healthy, it was to the point the Cardinals were pulling him off the field on nickel situations. And with the safeties being major communicators in the secondary (should be anywas) I’m not sure you want to be pulling a safety 60% of the time with, presumably, a rookie back there. I think Steltz makes the team becauase he’s strong on ST. Conte makes the team because he’s cheap and there is still a little bit of potential.
        LB- dead on I’d say. Briggs-DJ- McClellan, and Briggs-Bostic in the nickel . If that’s the case, I’d imagine that Briggs will continue to be calling the defense and have the radio in his helmet. Senn, Greene, Jones make the team as backups.

  13. frank

    I can see your point about Wilson v. Mundy. I think the key will be how healthy he is, and at 34, seems like they’re looking to catch the proverbial lightning in a bottle here. But I agree that he might, if he makes the team, be used only situationally. I see what you you mean too, about Steltz and Conte. The question is how many safeties they’ll carry. Jennings is supposed to be pretty good on ST as well.

    1. mdavis

      It will be an interesting battle to follow through camp. Then again, with the possible rotation we could see with the LBs from base package to nickel, we could possibly see some of the same, with Wilson running the base package as more of a run stuffer, (dude is built like a LB 6’3″ 230), and bringing Mundy in for nickel/passing situations. Like I said I wouldn’t really be crazy about that, but suppose its possible. I’ll say Vereen and Mundy are locks to make the squad, based on draft status, $, and the fact they been running with the 1s. don’t think they are ready to give up on Conte yet. So looking at a battle with Steltz, Jennings, McCray. Wilson, I’m not sure brings ST value so if he doesn’t win the job I’m not sure he sticks.

      1. frank

        Wilson is a hitter, and they need that. I agree that they haven’t given up on Conte, and that Vereen and Mundy are in. Of Steltz, Jennings, and McCray–I’m not sure who makes it from that group–but I think Steltz and Jennings have both ST value and on-filed value–at least moreso than does McCray, who is mostly a ST guy from what I understand. The problem with Wilson on run downs is if the opposition doesn’t run. The question is whether he still has enough in the tank to be effective in pass coverage.

        1. mdavis

          Yeah very good point. If you’re a team, say the Lions, with a talent at the TE position. You can come out in 21 package, have the Bears in base, and attack the seam with that TE. If Wilson can’t hold up in that, then he just can’t be on the field. I’m interested to see how he fits in. I’m just concerned that he was being pulled off the field in nickel situations his last year with the Cards, and is coming off an achilles. We’ll see

  14. mdavis

    I’m interested in the DT battle. I’m going to check that out when I go watch training camp. Right now sounds like Ratliff and Paea are the running with the 1s. Ratliff, yeah. Paea i’m not sold on. He’s shown flashes, but he can’t stay healthy and has never really been dominant. I don’t see that nastiness factor with him just yet. Ferguson I think will end up getting a de facto “red shirt” this year. I’d look for Sutton or Collins to jump Paea in camp. Just a preliminary thought I’ve had.

    1. frank

      That’s what I’ve heard as well–Ratliffe and Paea are the starters. As you said, Paea has shown flashes, but nothing more. Is it just me not paying attention to him, or does he just seem to disappear for stretches? I’ve said before that I wouldn’t be surprised if Paea doesn’t make the final roster, but if that were to be the case, he probably wouldn’t be running with the ones right now. Wouldn’t be surprising if he’s not the starter come the first game though.

      1. mdavis

        No I agree, he disappears. And this isn’t like the O Line, where no news is good news, so to speak during games. You want to hear those DL names. he disappears for long stretches. I question the toughness a little bit too, whether thats fair or not, i’m not sure. Just a personal opinion. Its a contract year for him though, so maybe that’ll get him charged up. Still don’t see him breaking camp as a 1 though.

  15. frank

    Just saw an article on a website called “Cover32.” I have no idea who they are, though I’ve seen some of their articles before. In this article, they name Chris Conte the 8th best safety in the NFL. That’s not mistyped–8th BEST. I was shocked and awed by the lack of sense in that article–I was looking for a banner from The Onion, a byline for Chris Rock–anything that would make sense of that ranking . . .

    1. mdavis

      i am speechless. i am without speech. i’m not sure how to justify that in any way shape or form. i mean i think there’s a chance he comes back and wins the starting gig, but with him missing so much, Vereen has a chance to really impress (sounds like he’s been solid thusfar) but 8th best? just no.

  16. frank

    Looking at the article on the Bears’ return jobs–Spurlock really seems like a one-trick pony to me. Not much value as a receiver compared to the others. If they got rid of Hester for that reason (as well as the money), then it seems to me Spurlock shouldn’t have much of a chance either. Why use a roster spot that way? At least Hester was a special talent.

    1. mdavis

      Yeah I agree. Same with Edwards. He never really made that transition to WR. Apparently Weems is making a strong push for the retun job. He was a Pro Bowler for the Falcons in that capacity. May end up being the reverse of what we typically say. Where its usually, the back ups that make the squad are the ones that contribute on ST, the return job may be to the guy who provides the most value as a back up WR. Unless of course Ford wins the job.

  17. frank

    Here’s something interesting–the arbitrator’s ruling on whether or not Jimmy Graham is a WR or TE was based on the number of times in which Graham was lined up within 4 yards of an OT, as opposed to a TE being a TE no matter where he lines up. That ruling can have big implications down the road, especially since he difference between a franchise tag on a TE on a franchise tag on a WR is about $5 M per year. TEs often line up in certain spots depending on whether the defense is showing man or zone, because the matchups will be different. Also–suppose you send your RB out wide for x number of plays? Can he too, become a WR for salary cap purposes? Theoretically, yes. Another twist–is it overall number of plays, percentage of offensive plays, or percentage of an individual player’s snaps? Theoretically, a change-of-pace back who comes in for 10-15 snaps a game but often lines up wide may be considered a WR. So–do you keep doing what you do, knowing it could cost you in salary and cap space down the road, or do you adjust your offensive scheme to assure that a TE remains a TE? Coaches will want to do the former, GMs will want the latter. That $5 M can get you a couple of good rotation guys, and some depth, in a league where injuries are commonplace.

    1. mdavis

      I also heard they used Graham’s twitter profile in the ruling, where they mentioned he himself said he was a “tight end of the Saints”…Cameron from the Browns changed his right after that to “pass catcher”. I think this could be something that gets changed with the next CBA. For one, its kind of outdated in terms of how they are tagged, and 2, its pretty clear Graham is a TE, and this was about $5 mil. Can’t say I blame him, but it is what it is. I think, moving fwd, or like I said with the next CBA, they should scrap the position by position. and start grouping more. But, obviously, its give and take. So instead of top 5 salaries, perhaps they go to top 10. Which will drive salary down some with certain positions, but up with others.

      Offensive QB: top 10 QBs salary (drives down salary, owners like)
      Offensive Skill: top 10 skill pos salary (WR, TE, RB, drives up salary for RBs, TEs, potentially WR with the new contracts TEs will be seeing on the market at that point)
      Offensive Line: top 10 lineman salary

      Defense I think you can be a little more cut and dry. DT, DE, LB, CB, S. I could see them combining CB and S to a “secondary tag”. And then you have a “hybrid” tag for a LB/DE types.

      1. frank

        I think that’s plausible–but the question will be whether the players (and NFLPA) can come to a consensus on this. They’d be asking some players to take less money so that other players can make more. And then–what concessions will they want the owners to make? In any case, it’s likely to be an issue at least until the CBA comes for renegotiation.

        1. mdavis

          yeah it will be a sticky subject for sure. but certainly something that needs to be addressed to try and avoid these cases where guys of different pos trying to claim they should be tagged as something else.

  18. mdavis

    Sounds like Josh Morgan had his assualt charge dismissed. Should clear the way for him to make the roster. I think he has the inside track to the #4 spot….unless he completely sucks in preseason, or one of the younger guys just explodes, of course.

    1. frank

      You’re probably right–he’s more accomplished at the position than the others are, so I think it’s his spot to lose. Unless something unforeseen happens, I don’t see any of the others taking the position from him.

  19. frank

    Did you know the Bears were #1 in opposing kickoff return average and #6 in opposing punt return average last year? I didn’t know that–they have to keep that up.

    1. mdavis

      a little surprising i’d say…..the punt return is probably a little misleading, because Podlesh sucked and shanked so many haha. Punter battle will actually be an important one, but on top of that, who’s holding for Gould. New LS, new holder, something to keep an eye on in camp/preseason for sure.

      I’m heading to watch practice next Saturday, I’ll throw up some thoughts on what I see. Don’t think they’ll be in pads yet, but the early rotations could give some hints as to playing time, competitions, etc.

      Brett, any word yet on what the future of this side of the site is going forward? Hopefully up and running by the first preseason game! Exciting time to be a Bear fan.

      1. frank

        Yeah, those will be unsung but important battles. I think the punter will end up being the guy they drafted, unless he just turns out to be a bust. No reason to draft a punter with so many on the street, unless he’s the one that you think will make the roster.

        And Brett, if you’re listening, I again nominate mdavis for the job!

  20. frank

    A writer for Yardbarker has these predictions–Fales will push for backup by the end of camp; McClellin won’t make the final roster; Way will beat out O’Connell for punter; Ford will be the kick returner; and Adrian Wilson will retire during camp.

    I think Fales very well may be pushing for backup, although Clausen does have experience over him. It’s not a stretch to think he’d beat out Jordan Palmer. I don’t think there’s any chance McClellin gets cut, and I don’t think that Way will beat out O’Connell. Ford could be the kick returner–he did it in college and was actually pretty good. As to whether Wilson retires–probably about 50/50 depending on how healthy he feels.

    1. mdavis

      Certainly would say those are bold predictions. I like Fales a lot. Athletic, good feet, smooth mechanics, but with the fact Cutler has missed time every year, I just don’t see them putting a 6th rounder as the #2. I’m pretty confident he’ll be holding the clipboard while 1 of Palmer and Clausen backs up Cutler. But I am excited to see those guys Saturday go through a work out.

      I’m with you, no way McClellan is cut. Just won’t happen. He’ll get every opportunity to stick on that roster. The punter battle might be closer than you think, I remember Way having some pretty strong camps past couple of years and they keep bringing him back. Yes, O’Donnell was a draft pick, but just a 6th rounder. 6-7th rounders aren’t as hard to cut. It’ll be an interesting battle, and an important one for sure.

      Returner: Ford could be the darkhorse, with Weems and Williams maybe the favorites heading into camp. As for Wilson, I think it’ll come down to if he makes the roster or not. If he’s going to be cut, I’m sure the Bears, out of respect for a veteran, will go to him and ask if he’d like to retire first.

      1. frank

        I agree on Fales–I think either Palmer or Clausen gets cut before he does. I agree that a 6th round pick isn’t hard to cut.

        My question when it comes to the punter then, is this–if they liked Way that much, why use a 6th round pick on a punter when they can pick up a punter off the street pretty much anytime? After all, Robbie Gould was a street free agent when they got him. I understand having competition in camp, but they could have used that 6th round pick to create more competition at another position. Makes me think that this is O’Donnell’s job to lose. Ford has had some success returning kicks in college–he averaged 27.5 yards per return, but he didn’t do much last year. Of course, he didn’t get many chances–as would be expected on a team with Devin Hester.

        I’m sure you’re right about Wilson as well. He’s had a great career, and they would probably give him that option. I’m still interested to see what Christian Jones does at LB. He has size and versatility, and he played in a top program.

  21. frank

    Hmmm–Adrian Wilson said his Achilles was never torn–he had a malformation similar to a bone spur. Would certainly affect things like recovery time and athleticism . . .

    1. mdavis

      that ceratinly would help. just read a few thoughts from JD and Michael Wright. Both seem to think Clausen is going to take the 2 spot, and it sounds like Cutler and him have clicked. While play on the field is certainly important, I’d almost put that relationship on the same level, because of what that #2 needs to do. I’m interested to see saturday how Clausen looks, and how the reps go between the 4.

      Wright also thinks if Wilson shows he’s healthy and playing well, he’s starting. I still have my reservations about a 34 yr old who struggles in covg, but man, a 6’3″ 230 Safety that can lay some lumber? If he still has it, I’m good with that.

      Also read somewhere Bostic is going to be the Mike in nickel packages to start out with, and still competing with DJ for the full time gig. I’ll def throw some note up either saturday or monday bout how everyone looks in practice. I think they’ll still be in shorts, but still can maybe get a feel based on rotation, technique etc.

      1. frank

        I wouldn’t be surprised if Clausen ends up being the number 2, if for no other reason than his “experience,” provided, of course, that he’s performing well enough on the field. In this case, I’d agree that the relationship between the #2 and Cutler is important–probably more important than on any number of teams, because of the importance of Cutler’s comfort level.

        Well, if Wilson is healthy and playing well, he is a cut above anyone else on the roster. But “healthy and playing well” are two pretty big ifs right now. Much will depend on how they use him, I’d imagine–if they’re using a single high safety, they could put Wilson primarily in run support, which would be right up his alley.

        I think Bostic said in an interview that the changes they’ve made to the defensive schemes are more akin to what he was doing in college, and therefore he’s able to play faster and more instinctively. That’s the key, isn’t it? Putting the personnel you have in the best position to play to their strengths and to succeed.

  22. frank

    Comments by Hub Arkush on WSCR this morning–he’s very concerned about backups at WR and at RB–maybe even moreso than QB. Doesn’t seem fully sold on Marquess Wilson either–but is own caveat there is that he has not seen him on the field yet. Really likes Will Sutton–thinks he’s as good as Aaron Donald, though he’s not convinced that Donald will be the total monster that others seem to think he will be. Ferguson cannot play the 3 technique and Sutton basically can only play the 3. He also believes Houston will play inside a lot–he is a prototypical 3 technique, and has not produced at DE. Also concerned that Oakland and New Orleans made no attempt to sign Houston and de la Puente, respectively (despite Oakland’s huge amount of space under the cap)–he wonders why these teams let these guys go so easily.

    1. mdavis

      I can’t make up my mind about how I feel about Hub. I personally feel pretty good about the depth at WR, I’d say they have more than most. How many teams run 5 deep at the postion? You just dont see that. There’s a top 3, and then a couple of filler types. Everyone raves about GB WR. They have Nelson, Cobb and…. ATL? White, Jones, Douglas and… Denver, Thomas, Sanders, Welker, and….So, I guess I’m not sure how much depth/money he expects to be allocated to the postion. Yes, they need Wilson to make that step, but Morgan is a serviceable 4, and there are other WR on the market should an emergency happen.

      #2 RB I think they have some nice options in Carey and Ford. Good upside, and once again this is position with a lot guys on the street should things go south. Plus, how much does Forte really come off the field anywyas? I hope they give him a little more of a breather this year, but I’m comfortable with what they have.

      Sutton and Ferguson, yes I view them more as a 3 and 1 respectively, and that’s fine. It doesn’t hurt to work them in both spots in camp. I saw Hub on TV yesterday ranting bout Houston being a 3-tech, and that may be true, but as that LE you want a guy who can hold up against a run, and he certainly can do that. As for the why did Oakland let him go? Why did they let a young talented LT go? Not to mention, from what I read Houston wasn’t interested in staying in Oakland anyways. Takes 2 to tango.

      As for de la Puente…he’s a back up. And the Saints are an organization that firmly believes they can take less heralded guys and coach them up to replace talent. They let Bushrod go a year ago for a couple of late round guys they had on the roster already. But once again, de la Puente is a back up.

      That’s my take on it anyways. End Rant.

      1. frank

        I’ve generally found Hub to be pretty knowledgeable, and at least logical in his analyses. That said, he is quite often a “doom and gloom” kind of analyst. He is correct in that the RB depth is untested, but backup RBs can generally contribute much more quickly than backups at other positions. Morgan is a more traditional slot receiver than is Wilson, but the Bears have used both Marshall and Jeffery on the inside as well. And Morgan has a had a few 500+ yard seasons, which is fine.

        I don’t think we’ll see Ferguson at the 3–he’s just not quick enough. He doesn’t have that burst that Sutton or Houston have. But as the anchor tackle, he doesn’t need that–the one thing that can be seen in his career at LSU, is that when he was in, the other team could not run the ball. And that’s what this defense needs. I’ll be quite happy if Sutton can disrupt and penetrate while Ferguson stuffs the run and holds the line. As to Houston, I’ve heard say more than once that he thinks Houston is the best 3 tech in the NFL. If they bump him inside and play Young opposite Allen–well, that should be pretty good. I don’t think Houston wanted to stay in Oakland either. But I think Hub’s point was that Oakland had $80M in cap space, and money cures a lot of ills–that can be true, but not always.

        Your point about de la Puente is well taken. He’s a backup, and probably the heir to the center position. He’s familiar with Kromer and what the Bears want to do. But he was a starter that N.O. didn’t try very hard to keep, which is curious considering their lack of depth on the OL. Maybe they didn’t think they could pay him, maybe they thought the people they had to replace him were serviceable enough, or have good potential. But, as you say, he is a backup.

        1. mdavis

          Yup true on all fronts I’d say. I’m sure we will see some Houston at the 3 tech in obvious passing downs, other than that I think we are going to see a difference in DL philosophy. No longer the Lovie days where its get up the field, too many teams run the zone/cut-back now and you get gashed. So, perhaps we’re too quick to label these DTs without knowing how the pieces will fit. It’ll be interesting to see. I’m going to try and see as many pos groups as possible tmrw at practice, try and get a basic feel for how everyone looks for now, to my amateur eye of course. side note, just looking at pictures from when he arrived….Adrian Wilson is a damn monster. And seems lots of the beat writers are picking up the tune that he’s going to win a starting job.

          1. frank

            If Wilson is healthy enough to win a starting job, and the coaches can put him in positions that play to his strengths and minimize his weaknesses, that has the potential to be a pretty big upgrade at safety.

            Emery has said all along that he wants a “disruptive” defensive line–but I’m not sure how, exactly, that’s going to play out. I generally think of disruption as getting into the QB’s face and forcing errors, and busting up running plays before the back can even read the play. You have to get upfield to do that. But at the same time, as you say, you can’t allow the cut-back to destroy you. I’m hoping this defense is more “attack” than “bend-but-don’t-break” and I think the interesting thing will be how the personnel are deployed to meet that end.

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