Look into the future

Before Lovie Smith holds his first training camp, Bear Report will try to predict the starting lineup to open the season. Not all choices will be as easy as penciling Brian Urlacher in at middle linebacker.

The biggest battles will be at strong safety, strong-side linebacker and left tackle. Bobby Gray and Mike Green will go head-to-head for the starting strong safety spot. The duo split time last season as Green missed time due to a nagging groin injury. He's more athletic than Gray, but doesn't supply the same knack for hitting or ability to stop the run. Joe Odom started three games a rookie and opened some eyes during that time. Only time will tell whether it's enough for the Bears to rely on him to be their strong-side linebacker. At this point he's the favorite over Bryan Knight, who lost his starting job to Lance Briggs after three games into the 2003 campaign. GM Jerry Angelo is still pursuing Ephriam Salaam in free agency. While the Bears are publicly backing the prospect of going with Qasim Mitchell to protect Rex Grossman's blindside, there's no doubt that adding some experience would make everyone breath easier. Salaam could bridge the gap to Mitchell, if the team truly believes he can be their left tackle of the future. At the least, the competition would push Mitchell's development. With training camp more than four months away it's doubtful anyone will secure a job until after the team leaves Bourbonnais. However there's no harm in looking at what might happen depending on further free agent acquisitions and next month's draft. Offense
WR Marty Booker
WR David Terrell
LT Ephriam Salaam
LG Rex Tucker
C Olin Kreutz
RG Mike Gandy
RT John Tait
TE Desmond Clark
QB Rex Grossman
RB Thomas Jones
FB Stanley Pritchett

Defense
LE Michael Haynes
LDT Bryan Robinson
RDT Vince Wilfork
RE Alex Brown
SLB Joe Odom
MLB Brian Urlacher
WLB Lance Briggs
LCB Charles Tillman
RCB Jerry Azumah
FS Mike Brown
SS Bobby Gray

Special Teams
KR Jerry Azumah
PR R.W. McQuarters
K Paul Edinger
P Brad Maynard


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