Bears Week 3 OTA primer

The final day of media access for Chicago Bears OTAs is tomorrow afternoon. Here are five things we'll be watching for during one of the last team practices before training camp.

The Chicago Bears will suit up for one of their final pre-camp practices of the 2012 offseason tomorrow. Media will have our final look at the full roster during organized training activities (OTAs).

Here are five questions we'll be looking to answer from the sideline at Halas Hall.

Has Jeffery earned more reps?

In the first practice open to the media two weeks ago, rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery took snaps exclusively with the backups. Last week, he was splitting reps with both the ones and the twos, rotating with starters Brandon Marshall and Devin Hester.

Bears coaches want Jeffery to be a starter as soon as possible. It took them only one week to get him first-team reps. At this rate, he'll be the starter over Hester by training camp. If he's getting even more time with the ones tomorrow, it will signal the eventual changing of the guard.

How does Carimi look?

Right tackle Gabe Carimi – who has been out of action since dislocating his knee in Week 2 last year – started practicing last week. He said, assuming there are no setbacks, he'll be good to go for the remainder of the offseason.


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Seeing him on the field tomorrow will show that the knee is holding up and that Carimi is on his way to a full recovery. Yet if he's on the sideline wearing a baseball cap, signaling a setback, Bears fans can begin panicking in earnest.

Who has stepped up at defensive tackle?

Amobi Okoye, the primary backup to Henry Melton at 3-technique, bolted for Tampa Bay this offseason. To replace him, the Bears brought in a bunch of unproven players to compete for the position.

Last week, John McCargo was getting reps next to nose tackle Stephen Paea with the second team. Yet Jordan Miller, Ronnie Cameron, Nate Collins and Demario Pressley are all in the mix. The competition that will last throughout training camp, yet it would do these players well to get on Rod Marinelli's good side sooner rather than later.

Will Tice deploy a four-receiver set?

So far during 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills, offensive coordinator Mike Tice has yet to call a formation with four wide receivers. To this point, most of the formations have included two tight ends and never more than three receivers. Former OC Mike Martz loved four- and five-receiver sets, so it's been an abrupt shift to the power formations Tice is currently using.

Yet it's likely he's installing the simpler parts of the new offense now and will begin throwing in four-receiver sets in the near future, possibly as early as tomorrow.

If we do get a look at four receivers, it will tell us a lot about how Tice plans on deploying his pass catchers, specifically Devin Hester. If Hester is in the slot, and Jeffery is out wide, it will provide a glimpse of what we can expect this season on game days.

Will Jason Campbell throw downfield?

So far, backup quarterback Jason Campbell – in whom the team invested $3.5 million in 2012 – has shown a concerning tendency to check down to running backs and tight ends. While starting quarterback Jay Cutler has been slinging the ball deep down the field, Campbell has been dinking and dunking.

Through the first two weeks of practices, Campbell gets a pass for his aversion to the deep ball. He's still learning Tice's system and is throwing to a whole new group of receivers.

Yet it's now the third week of OTAs and it would be good to see Campbell push the ball downfield. His 7.09 yards per attempt was 17th best in the league last season, which won't be good enough in Chicago. He'll need to quickly get comfortable with the intermediate and deep passes in Tice's offense if he's going to be an adequate fill in should Cutler miss time.

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.


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