Prediction of the Bears starting lineup

The draft obviously influenced several changes in the Bears outlook for the 2004 season. How many vets are moving out of the starting lineup in favor of rookies? It's also time Lovie Smith reconsider one of his early decisions.

John Tait is being paid more than anyone else on the roster this season, so it's going to be hard for the coaching staff to justify him playing right tackle when Rex Grossman is getting sacked. Don't be surprised, if at some point, Tait shifts to left tackle and Aaron Gibson replaces him on the right side. Qasim Mitchell may be their man now, but there's no pressure to make a change in April However if Tait's going to be the left tackle, it would be best to move him sooner rather than later because he hasn't played the position since 2001. The Bears glaring need to upgrade the interior of the defensive line was addressed in round one and two. While Tommie Harris is a sure bet to be in the starting lineup, it will hard for defensive coordinator Ron Rivera to also go with two rookies. Terry Johnson will play early but he's more likely to be included a rotation between Harris, Bryan Robinson and Alfonso Boone. Tron LaFavor and Ian Scott have been forgotten. Carrying six defensive tackles on a 53-man roster is unrealistic. Joe Tafoya can play end and tackle, so don't be surprised if one or more of the current crop is cut. Jerry Azumah went to the Pro Bowl as the NFL's leading kick returner. His stellar play on special teams came after he was pulled from his starting cornerback role. Azumah's success on kick returns eventually carried over to his coverage, as he tied for the team lead with four interceptions. R.W. McQuarters always had the ability to be a great punt returner, but it took a Bobby Wade fumble inside the ten-yard line for Dick Jauron to make a change. Penalties and poor play also led to him being demoted to nickel back in favor of Azumah, but he finished toward the top of the in punt return average. Despite being the Bears biggest offensive weapons last year, the coaching staff would prefer not use Azumah or McQuarters in the return game. The selection of both WR Bernard Berrian and CB Nathan Vasher is an indication that the two veterans will be focussing on locking down opposing receivers. Vasher is a dynamic punt returner and Berrian has experience as both a kick and punt returner.

Offense
WR Marty Booker
WR David Terrell
LT John Tait
LG Rex Tucker
C Olin Kreutz
RG Ruben Brown
RT Aaron Gibson
TE Desmond Clark
QB Rex Grossman
RB Thomas Jones
FB Bryan Johnson

Defense
LE Michael Haynes
LDT Bryan Robinson
RDT Tommie Harris
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 Bernard Berrian
PR Nathan Vasher
K Paul Edinger
P Brad Maynard

Moved in to projected Starting Lineup
LT John Tait from RT
RT Aaron Gibson
DT Tommie Harris
KR Bernard Berrian
PR Nathan Vasher

Moved out of Projected Starting Lineup
LT Qasim Mitchell
DT Alfonso Boone
KR Jerry Azumah
PR R.W. McQuarters


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