The NFL preseason is on its way and the Chicago Bears have loads of questions to get answer before it ends in August.
Can Brock Vereen steal the free safety job from Chris Conte?
Normally a rookie 4th round pick is never slated immediately for a starting job on offense or defense. However, thanks to a shoulder injury that will sideline Chris Conte for the next four to five months, rookie Brock Vereen suddenly seems like the favorite to challenge for the “wide open” free safety job. His only immediate threat is veteran M.D. Jennings who flamed out in Green Bay. If Vereen can make some noise in training camp and put it on the field in preseason, Conte might lose his job before ever getting a chance to compete for it.
Can Marquess Wilson apply his lessons from Brandon Marshall on the field?
Alshon Jeffery used a training session with teammate and All-Pro Brandon Marshall last season to become a human highlight reel in 2013, resulting in his first Pro Bowl. Now Chicago Bears fans anxiously await the results regarding Marquess Wilson. Much like Jeffery, the promising young receiver is 6’3″ with intriguing athleticism and entering his second year. After a falling out at Washington State, doubts surround his dedication to the game. That is why Marshall brought him down to Florida, to show him how to work like a pro receiver. If Wilson put in the time like Jeffery did, his talent is enough to where he might see a similar spike in production on the field in 2014.
Where will Jon Bostic and Shea McClellin land on defense?
Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said only one linebacker position was settled prior to training camp, and that was the one held by veteran leader Lance Briggs. Most feel reasonably sure that the middle spot will go to D.J. Williams who played well last season prior to getting hurt. That leaves one starting spot open and a battle set to ensue. The two primary contenders for the job are Jon Bostic, the teams’ 2nd round pick from 2013 and Shea McClellin who is shifting to linebacker from defensive end where he was placed after going 19th overall in 2012. Both have loads of speed and athleticism to offer to the position. The question is which one can make more plays? That is why the preseason will prove so crucial for them and in hindsight the Bears defense.
Will Jordan Lynch find a way onto the roster?
Nearly every Illinois citizen is pulling for Jordan Lynch to find a way onto the Chicago Bears roster. The NIU graduate and Heisman finalist has a daunting task ahead of him. After dominating college football as an option quarterback, he agreed to switch positions to running back in order to have the best chance at making the team. While his running skills are not an issue as he proved for the Huskies, there are other requirements foreign to his experience. As a running back in the Bears system he must know how to run routes, catch passes and deliver textbook blocks in pass protection. That task is daunting enough but since he would be the third back on the offense behind Matt Forte and Ka’Deem Carey, he also must learn to play special teams. Athletically speaking he can do it. The big problem is whether he has enough time.
Is Fendi Onobun still more athlete than football player?
It’s impossible for fans not to fall in love with the what-ifs surrounding tight end Fendi Onobun. From a pure physical point of view he has that Jimmy Graham or Tony Gonzalez look: a basketball standout who creates matchup nightmares for defenses in coverage. He has the size and the speed. His problem is simple lack of football experience. Onobun hasn’t played the game for very long and so far in the NFL it has shown. That is why no team has kept him on the roster. Chicago was really the first one who wanted to keep him around so he could learn the game and the offense. Has that made a difference? Training camp and the preseason will tell the tale.
What can Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston accomplish?
Free agency for the Chicago Bears was all about the defensive line, and more specifically the defensive end position. Their two most lucrative signing were Lamarr Houston from Oakland and of course longtime nemesis Jared Allen from Minnesota. Their presence up front creates a potentially disruptive combination that could wreck havoc on offensive lines in 2014. The question is how much does Allen have left at age 32 and is Houston good enough to breach the double digit barrier for sacks? An improved secondary would certainly help their cause as would a strong presence in the middle from the likes of Jeremiah Ratliff, Nate Collins, Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton. Above all though it’s all about health.