Part of building a winning team is through productive competition in training camp. What are some matchups the Chicago Bears could benefit from?
Kyle Fuller against Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery
Considered the most pro-ready cornerback coming out of the 2014 draft, Kyle Fuller is expected to contribute right away in the Bears’ nickel defense. So who better to get him ready for the likes of Calvin Johnson and Jordy Nelson than the star tandem of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Fuller has the size and the speed to play outside corner but he will need discipline and toughness to take on the best. Marshall and Jeffery should be able to school him (over and over again) in the art so by the time the season starts, Fuller will be ready for anybody.
Will Sutton against Kyle Long
Scouts were very high on the potential of Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton. His pass rush prowess from the interior is a rare commodity, but some worry if his weight problems and lack of size could doom him at the NFL level. So it’s a good thing the Chicago Bears will likely pit him against right guard Kyle Long as frequently as possible. Long is five inches taller and as much as 20 lbs heavier than Sutton. He went to the Pro Bowl as a rookie last year as well. If Sutton is going to succeed in 2014 and beyond, he will have to learn how to beat blockers like Long.
Marquess Wilson against Tim Jennings
Earl Bennett is gone, and with that the third wide receiver slot is wide open. Bears coaches are extremely excited about second-year talent Marquess Wilson, who is physically built in the same manner as their two stars, Marshall and Jeffery. In order for him to secure that job he will have to thrive in the slot where he will line up frequently against Pro Bowl veteran Tim Jennings. It is exactly the kind of matchups Wilson can expect to see. Where Jennings has quickness and experience on his side, the 21-year old is 6’3″, granting him a height advantage of seven inches. He must learn to use that since he will primarily see smaller corners on the inside. Jennings is among the best.
Shea McClellin against Matt Forte
This is a matchup that actually will feature a couple of different dimension. Shea McClellin is vying for the starting job at strong side linebacker after two years at defensive end. So his duties will shift from holding the edge and rushing the quarterback to chasing down ball carriers, playing coverage and blitzing. If there is any player that can put McClellin to the test in all those categories it is Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte. McClellin must learn to read his keys and chase down Forte on running plays, hold his gaps to prevent long runs and track him on screen passes.
However, another beneficial part of their matchup is on blitz calls. McClellin is a gifted pass rusher who thrived at Boise State as a delay blitzer. In such situations it falls to the running back on offense to pick that man up. Forte is one of the best in the league at doing that. If McClellin can learn to beat those blocker to get at the quarterback, it may prove the deciding factor in him winning the spot.