For the first time in years it seems the Chicago Bears have a quality group of young players assembled on their roster. Is it beginning to tell?
Jon Bostic no longer conceding to D.J. Williams
A year ago there was turmoil among the Chicago fanbase about who should start at middle linebacker. Should it be veteran D.J. Williams or rookie 2nd round pick Jon Bostic? That same turmoil was noticeably absent among the coaching staff, who favored Williams from the outset. Reasoning for that became apparent after Williams went down with a torn pectoral. Bostic stepped in as the starter and struggled often. It was felt the Bears would have to shuffle their linebackers again, re-signing Williams to play the middle and moving Bostic outside to compete with Shea McClellin on the strong side. Apparently that assumption was premature. Thanks to a shift in scheme by defensive coordinator Mel Tucker and new position coaches, Bostic has come out firing in early camp practices. His speed and explosion have jumped out right away, and even he admitted the scheme adjustments fit his game so much better than a year ago. With McClellin also flashing on the strong side, the Chicago Bears may be in store for a major age shift in their linebacking corps with the 23-year old Bostic and 24-year old McClellin pushing hard to stay on the field.
Marquess Wilson on track to join Jeffery and Marshall
The influx of young competition doesn’t end with the defense though. It’s still happening on the offensive side. A year after Alshon Jeffery and Kyle Long took their places among the youngest names in the Pro Bowl, the Bears may have another sleeping giant ready to awake at wide receiver. Marquess Wilson was a classic top talent player who fell in the NFL draft due to off-the-field issues, most notably quitting the season at Washington State over a squabble with coaches. Wilson fell to the 7th round where Chicago Bears GM Phil Emery scooped him up, ready to look over the past problem and give him a chance to realize his potential. Still just 21-years old, Wilson spent the entire off-season with teammates Jeffery and Brandon Marshall down in Florida, improving his mental and physical game. Signs of it are already showing in practice. To think the team might get another 6’4″ target with the same ability as Jeffery and Marshall is too scary to contemplate.
Ka’Deem Carey and Will Sutton making early impressions
The young legs aren’t appearing in just a starter capacity either. As every team knows, having good depth is just as important as a strong starting lineup. It seems Chicago may have some things brewing on both offense and defense. While Jeremiah Ratliff and Stephen Paea are favorites to start at defensive tackle, rookie 3rd round pick Will Sutton hasn’t let that stop him from getting the attention of coaches. His quickness and speed as an interior pass rusher have flashed more than once during practices and were the primary reasons why the Bears drafted him. If it continues he should see ample playing time in the rotation. The same can be said for running back Ka’Deem Carey. A standout at Arizona, he is expected to help ease the workload off of Matt Forte who at age 27 has a lot of mileage on his legs. Carey claims he’s a great fit for the Bears’ offense and his progress has reflected that.
Obviously youth won’t be the main reason the Chicago Bears find success in 2014, but it will send a clear message that they can expect success beyond it.