New additions, cuts and developments in the Chicago Bears roster has created a shift in potential results for pending position battles.
Jordan Palmer vs. Jimmy Clausen
With due respect to rookie David Fales, the feel out of Bears camp is that the backup quarterback job will be decided by a competition between Jordan Palmer and Jimmy Clausen. Palmer is the older of the two and has more experience in the Chicago offense. Strangely though, Clausen has started more games. Both have features that head coach Marc Trestman wants, so it will come down to which of them better executes the scheme during the preseason. In this case the advantage must go to Palmer, who played very well on short notice for the Bears during the previous preseason.
Chris Williams vs. Michael Spurlock vs. Armanti Edwards
Aside from a few minor questions the top of the Chicago Bears receiver depth chart is largely set. That leaves a mad dash for the back end, with special focus devoted to finding the teams’ return man. In that venue it seems like a three-man race between former CFL star Chris Williams and recent free agents Michael Spurlock and Armanti Edwards. Based on track record alone it would seem Williams is the choice considering the success he had in Canada. However, Spurlock and Edwards may find value on special teams elsewhere. So Williams will have to showcase his skill more than once to secure the job.
D.J. Williams vs. Jon Bostic
Their first battle in 2013 was a bit anti-climactic. Bears coaches stated from the very beginning that they favored veteran D.J. Williams over rookie Jon Bostic for the starting middle linebacker job. Their choice appeared correct until Williams tore his pectoral after six games. Now, heading into Year 2, Bostic is not the overwhelmed kid he was last season. Thanks to his experience from replacing Williams and a slight shift in scheme reports are he’s grown much more comfortable on the field, and it’s showing. Williams still has the lead on the starting job for the time being, but his hold is far less secure than it was before. Expect Bostic to turn heads during the preseason, and ultimately trot Williams to the bench.
Ryan Mundy vs. Adrian Wilson
It seemed for a time like the strong safety position was sewn up before a battle could even begin. Free agent signing Ryan Mundy had taken every starter rep in practice and nobody was rising to challenge him. Clearly that didn’t sit well with the Chicago Bears brass, who promptly gave him some competition by signing five-time Pro Bowler Adrian Wilson. The 34-year old is coming off Achilles surgery so some are skeptical of how much he can contribute, but history says he can do a lot when healthy. Also take into account that Mundy has never started a full season in his career and its a situation that should be entertaining to watch. All things being equal, Wilson has too many hurdles to clear. Mundy is 29, healthy and played well last season. He is ready to start.
Chris Conte vs. Brock Vereen
The other safety position is even more uncertain. Last year Chris Conte was the starter but struggled at times despite posting career-best numbers. His glaring error in the final game of the season against Green Bay and off-season shoulder surgery haven’t helped his stock at all. In the midst of the vacuum, the Bears have brought in rookie Brock Vereen via the draft. Scouts believe he has the athleticism and intelligence to become a starter. The question is how long it will take. He’s been getting most of the meaningful reps in practice, so his development is off and running. Conte will have to hope he can return in time to spark the competition in training camp and the preseason. That will be key. Truthfully, not everything that happened last year was Conte’s fault. He’s still young and keeps trending up. If he returns healthy, he should be able to save his job at least for one more season while Vereen retreats to the bench to watch and learn.