It's over. The yearly trek to Bourbonnais for Chicago Bears training camp has officially come to an end. More than three weeks of practices have revealed a lot about Chicago's roster heading into the 2012 preseason.
Bear Report was front and center for every practice. Here's what we saw on the offensive side of the ball during our time in Bourbonnais.
Cutler has displayed the same strong arm and athleticism we've seen from him since coming to Chicago. Yet this offseason, he appears much more comfortable in an offensive system that will allow him to be a field general. In addition, having his best friend Brandon Marshall as his primary receiver, as well as the recent birth of his son, have raised his spirits considerably.
Campbell is an experienced signal caller that can lead an NFL offense. If Cutler goes down, Campbell won't allow the offense to implode, a la Caleb Hanie. Yet Campbell's inaccuracy downfield is concerning. With him at the helm, it will be a dink-and-dunk offense.
The elder statesmen of the group, McCown, a 12-year veteran, is one of the better third-string quarterbacks in the league.
After a rough start, Blanchard came on toward the end of training camp. His poise under pressure belies the fact he's a rookie. He looked good in the first preseason game. If he builds on that going forward, he'll earn a spot on the practice squad.
Running backsMatt Forte
What else can we say about one of the best running backs in the league? He's in shape and looks as explosive as ever. His knee injury from last season is a thing of the past. If you have a Top 5 pick in your fantasy draft, Forte should be on your short list.
Bush is a powerful back with a downhill running style that should pay dividends near the goal line. Yet, surprisingly, he's also a quality receiver. He'll spell Forte on occasion during games and has the capacity to carry a full load if need be.
Bell's biggest issue is ball security, as he fumbled three times in two starts last year. He only put the ball on the ground once in camp, which is a very good sign. He showed well in the preseason opener as well. A few more good games could cinch his spot as the team's No. 3 back.
Allen's quickness and pass-catching ability are intriguing. He has been explosive in camp but during live action last Thursday, his deficiencies showed. He's not going to run anyone over and he struggled making defenders miss. Allen is dynamic in practice but needs to show that on the game field.
Booker's main value is as a kick returner, where he looks like a weapon. As a runner though, he's limited.
Marshall has been as good as advertised. No Chicago defender has been able to keep him down. He's looked outstanding on underneath, intermediate and deep routes, and is borderline unstoppable in the red zone. Cutler looks Marshall's way on every pass play, so expect him this year to put together one of the greatest receiver seasons in Bears history.
Bennett has not received a lot of publicity in camp but he's been as solid as anyone. He's been working mainly out of the slot. His unbelievable hands and underneath ability, as well as the trust Cutler has in him, will make him a serious threat this year. Expect a career year from Bennett in 2012.
WR Alshon Jeffery
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Jeffery is developing quicker than most expected. He's dangerous in the red zone and has shown an ability to use his body to outmuscle defenders to the ball. In addition, he has sticky hands. Expect him to surpass typical rookie numbers this season.
The Hester package has laid low during camp. As of now, Jeffery is getting as many reps with the first team as Hester. The two will split time during the regular season and it wouldn't be surprising if Jeffery takes over the starting role by the end of the campaign. Hester's biggest impact this year will come as a returner.
Weems dealt with an ankle injury for more than a week during camp, which set him back in his development in Tice's offense. He'll be a quality kick returner for the team but his role in the offense will be limited to part-time slot duties.
Sanzenbacher has demonstrated very good route running and he's made a lot of quality catches in traffic. From a pure receiver standpoint, he deserves a roster spot.
Davis has already begun dropping passes. His contributions will come mainly on special teams. Right now, if the team keeps just six wide receivers, the last spot will be decided between Davis and Sanzenbacher. Whomever has the stronger preseason the rest of the way will like break camp on the final 53.
Chris Summers, Brittan Golden, Terriun Crump, Joseph Anderson
Golden exploded into camp, making a number of difficult catches, but has faded of late. Summers now appears to be first in line for a spot on the practice squad. His height (6-5) could turn him into a red-zone threat down the line.
Clutts is a throwback fullback, whose main purpose is to be a battering ram as a lead blocker. He can lay the lumber when he connects with a defender. He struggles as a pass catcher though, which limits his value.
Unga was switched from running back to fullback midway through camp. He's looked good as a lead blocker, as well as a short-yardage back. His hands are above average as well. He still has an outside shot at making the 53-man roster.
Coordinator Mike Tice has obviously made it a priority to include Davis in this year's offense. Working mainly as a downfield threat, Davis has been difficult to stop. His size (6-7, 270) has made him a force down the seams. Expect him to have the best year of his career in 2012.
Spaeth will be used primarily as a blocker but he's shown good hands. If Davis goes down, Spaeth should prove a capable fill in.
No tight end on this team has softer hands than E-Rod. He's relatively undersized (6-2, 244) which makes him a better option at F-back, where he can also utilize his blocking ability. Barring injury to Davis or Spaeth, E-Rod will have a small role in the offense this year.
TE Evan Rodriguez
Adams has been very impressive in the F-back role. He has taken a number of snaps at fullback with the first team, while also showing well as a receiver. His versatility could compel Tice to keep four tight ends on the roster.
LT J'Marcus Webb
Webb is who we thought he was. He still struggles with speed rushers and has not improved his balance. He has shown improvement, especially as a run blocker, but he still has problems in pass protection. Tice has continuously called out Webb during camp, even going so far as to leave him in until the fourth quarter in the preseason opener. Webb is still the frontrunner to start at left tackle but his grip on the job is loosening.
LT Chris Williams
Williams started out camp in a 50/50 battle with Webb on the left edge. Yet after less than a week of practice, he was shifted to the right side with the backups. Tice said that was done purely to spell RT Gabe Carimi, who experienced discomfort in his knee early on in Bourbonnais. After Webb's debacle against Denver, Williams was moved back to left tackle. The next three games could be Williams' last shot at being a starting LT for the Bears.
C Roberto Garza
Garza is established in the middle and is the leader of the front five. He'll anchor the offensive line for at least one more season.
LG Chris Spencer
Technically speaking, Spencer is the best lineman on the team. He has strong fundamentals and is a smart blocker. Yet he was pummeled against the Broncos, getting pushed five yards into the backfield on at least three occasions. Spencer has never played left guard in his career, so he's still learning the position. He needs to pick it up quickly though, as he's an important piece in the middle of the offensive line.
RG Lance Louis
Tice really likes Louis as a run blocker but I'm yet to see the same. Louis relies on his quickness more than his power and can struggle against bull rushers. Yet Tice loves him at RG, so it doesn't appear he'll be going anywhere anytime soon.
RT Gabe Carimi
Carimi is coming off a dislocated knee suffered in Week 2 last year. He has struggled to get healthy and was extremely sore after the first few practices. On the field, he appears to be favoring the knee, which has affected his play. So far, he doesn't look like the same dominant player he was in last year's camp. I'm confident though that he'll return to form once he stops thinking about the injury so much and just starts playing. When he's on, he's as good a run blocker as there is off the right edge.
T James Brown
Brown has been switched back and forth between left and right tackle, and is currently the backup on the right side, occasionally spelling Carimi with the first team. Brown is technically sound but doesn't possess ideal size (6-4, 306) for an NFL offensive tackle. His talent is unquestionable though and he's currently on the fringe of a roster spot. At the very least, he'll make the practice squad – that is if no other team claims him.
T Cory Brandon
Brandon is a mammoth lineman (6-7, 324) but he's extremely raw. He has a powerful first punch, one that I've seen him use to knock DE Cheta Ozougwa on his butt, as well as quick feet. But Brandon lacks technique and is still learning how to be a professional offensive tackle. At times he appears lost and unsure of himself, and he misses a lot of blocks. He was promoted to second-team left tackle for a few days last week but was quickly dropped down to the third team. It's funny, if you could combine Brandon's size with Brown's skill, you'd have a legitimate starting left tackle.
C Edwin Williams
Bradley Leeb/US Presswire
C Edwin Williams
Williams has been working as the backup center and has looked as good as any lineman on the team. His strength and balance inside make him the best interior pass blocker on the roster. Last year, he started seven games at left guard in place of Chris Williams. His versatility makes him a very valuable member of this group and is the reason the Bears extended his contract late last season. He'll be able to fill in if Garza, Spencer or Louis go down or are ineffective.
G Chilo Rachal
Rachal is the only veteran O-lineman the team signed this offseason. After playing strictly right guard with San Francisco, he's been working at left guard with the backups for the Bears. He lacks ideal quickness but he's a savvy veteran that holds his own during 1-on-1 drills. He played a decent game in the preseason opener. A few more of those performances and he'll lock down the swing guard position.
G Nick Pieschel, G Ricky Henry, G A.J. Greene
The most impressive of this group is Henry. He spent last year on Chicago's practice squad and has demonstrated a lot of nastiness and aggression on the field. He has the perfect attitude to play guard in the NFL. Henry's hands are a bit slow and, despite his squat frame, he struggles with balance. Still, he'll probably get another chance to play on Chicago's practice squad this year.
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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.