Positional Analysis

The Bears have one of the best wideouts in the game and arguably the most complete. Although there is a lot of behind him that needs to turn into production.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters -- Marty Booker, Dez White, David Terrell (in three-WR sets). Backups -- Ahmad Merritt, Justin Gage, Bobby Wade.

Booker has 197 catches over the past two seasons and has excelled in the short and intermediate areas, using his size and strength. He can be a deep threat if the Bears find someone to fill the underneath role (hopefully TE Desmond Clark).

White continues to make strides but not big ones. He has size, strength and speed but doesn't make as many big plays as he should with the tools he has. Still, he has 96 catches over the past two seasons and averaged a career-best 12.9 yards per catch last season.

Terrell may have more natural talent than either Booker or White, but he may never realize his ability of he remains intent on talking a good game rather than playing one.

GM Jerry Angelo even admits he never really expect fifth-round draft pick Justin Gage to challenge Terrell for his starting position as he suggested this past spring when he and Terrell seemed at odds.

"We like Gage," Angelo said. "Understand the fact that Gage was a fifth-round pick and Terrell was a top-10 pick. So I'm a personnel guy. I like Gage.

"Was it something that I think is going to happen? If Terrell is here and playing and working and all of those things, Terrell can be a hell of a player and be a special player. Do I see that same future for Gage? No.

"I'm not comparing the two in terms of what their impacts can be on our football team. But Gage is a very good player and he's very athletic and he does some very good things."

Terrell has had a great camp and continues to make big plays on a daily basis.

There is a tight battle for playing time behind the big three. Rookies Wade and Gage, who each put up big numbers at Arizona and Missouri, respectively.

"We drafted them obviously because we like their abilities a lot," head coach Dick Jauron said of Wade and Gage. "Bobby has other things outside of the receiving part of it. He's a return guy for us, which gives him a little more impact immediately. But, since Justin's been out on the field he's progressed faster than I anticipated. Both of those guys have come on strong and certainly they could compete for not only a roster spot, but an active spot on Sunday."

Merritt has great speed and quickness, but his big plays haven't outnumbered his bad plays, and he needs to prove he can do more than break the occasional long return.

"I'm not any stranger to competition," said Merritt, who was signed by the Bears as an undrafted free agent out of Wisconsin in 2000 and spent almost two full years on the practice squad. "When I got here, I was the last guy on the depth (chart). So I just worked my way through it every year, and each and every year, that's how I've made it. It's nothing different for me."

Insiders.com contributed to this story.


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