Chicago Bears Week 2 OTA Primer

Media today will have access to the Chicago Bears as they continue organized team activities (OTAs). Bear Report will be front and center looking to answer the following five questions.

Where in the world is Gabe Carimi?

Technically, we already know the answer to this one: Carimi is in Arizona working at the offensive line camp of LeCharles Bentley. We also know where the rest of his teammates are: working together in Chicago with the new coaching staff. Carimi is working out on his own to limit the risk of re-injuring his knee. That might be exactly what he needs but here's what is very likely to happen if he doesn't soon show up at Halas Hall:

The rest of the team's offensive linemen will be two to three steps ahead of Carimi in regard to the installation of the new offense and blocking schemes. The offensive linemen with whom Carimi is competing for a roster spot (yes, roster spot, not starting spot) will be in the groove both with their teammates and the new coaching staff. So when Carimi does stroll into town, he'll likely be placed on the third team offense and will be forced to work his way up the depth chart.

Yet he could mitigate the negative impact he's having on the team, and in the eyes of head coach Marc Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, by flying back to Chicago and joining his teammates. It's doubtful that will happen, as he appears fully intent on creating an uphill climb for himself. But if he does show up, we'll have our eyes peeled as to where he's lined up and how he's being treated by the team and coaching staff. And if he's not there today, we'll have updated lineups detailing any positional or depth-chart changes along the offensive line.

Is Brandon Marshall finally healthy?

So far this offseason, Brandon Marshall's sole role on offense has been to cheer on his teammates in a pair of sweat pants. Still recovering from minor offseason hip surgery, Marshall has yet to participate with his teammates on the practice field. This isn't a dire situation, as we're still two months away from training camp, but the longer Marshall is out, the longer it will take him to get acclimated with the new offense.

Even if he sits out all of OTAs, there's no reason to believe Marshall, a smart and extremely talented receiver, won't again earn another trip to the Pro Bowl. But if this injury continues to linger, it could affect him once the meaningful games begin. If Marshall is bothered by a hip injury this year and is unable to perform at his usual All-Pro level, it could be catastrophic for the offense. It's a situation that deserves monitoring.

Who is catching passes?


Marquess Wilson
David Banks/USA TODAY

The open competition for the club's final three wide receiver positions will continue today. Now that Trestman and receivers coach Mike Groh have had a full week with the full roster, we should have a good idea of who has, and who hasn't, impressed the coaching staff. So far, Brittan Golden, Joe Anderson and Terrence Toliver appear to be the frontrunners but this is obviously a fluid situation. Dale Moss, Josh Lenz, Demetrius Fields and Marcus Rucker are all trying to work their way up the depth chart and we'll know shortly if there has been any movement.

And don't sleep on seventh rounder Marquess Wilson, who has shown a ton of potential so far this offseason. In the few practices I have seen, Wilson has demonstrated the ability to be a weapon on offense and I'll be very interested to see if he has worked his way up from the third team.

At tight end, we saw Fendi Onobun ascend to the first team last week. Has he held his position as the main backup behind Martellus Bennett or will he again be working with the second team? Onobun has looked impressive, showing good movement and hands, so I'll be surprised if he has been demoted, but you never know.

Has a defensive lineman emerged?

Throughout this offseason, Aston Whiteside has been working as the backup to Henry Melton at defensive tackle. Whiteside's quickness is noticeable but at 255, he's awfully small for an interior defensive lineman. Yet the Bears don't have much competition for Whiteside beyond a trio of undrafted rookies: Christian Tupou, Brent Russell and Zach Minter. The club even waived Andre Fluellen yesterday, further reducing the amount of competition.

By waiving Fluellen, the Bears are saying one of three things. The first: we feel comfortable with Whiteside as the backup 3-technique. Or the second: we believe one of the undrafted rookies is good enough to supplant Whiteside and be a significant contributor this year. Or the third: we have eyes on a free-agent DT that we'll soon sign to compete at the position.

Based on what we see today, we'll have a much better idea of what direction Chicago's coaching staff is headed in regards to its defensive tackles.

Is Hardin improving?

Second-year safety Brandon Hardin, the club's 2012 third-round pick, has been rotating with second team during minicamps and OTAs. Alongside Craig Steltz, Hardin is sharing time with third-year player Anthony Walters. Hardin had the deer-in-the-headlights look in training camp last year and was subsequently placed on IR, forcing him to miss his rookie season. Hardin still has room to grow but it would be nice if we saw that improvement sooner rather than later.

So far, it's been a 50/50 split between him and Walters, who has proven to be very valuable on special teams. Hardin has an uphill climb ahead of him if he wants to make the team. If he's getting more reps today than he did last week, it will be a good sign for him. But if Walters has upped his reps or if Hardin still looks tentative, we'll know which way the coaching staff is leaning.


Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.

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