Evaluation far from over

Lovie Smith may be happy with where the team is at the conclusion of three mini-camps and 14 "Organized Team Activities", but he knows that his evaluation of the team is far from over.

''Most teams like where they are this time of the season,'' Smith said. ''We do, too. We know what the guys can do in underwear. Now we want to see what they can do in pads.'

"I think that's all we've done right now is really establish who will be competing for all the different jobs. You can't really move the depth chart around too much."

At this point no competition is closed, however, certain players have emerged as starters that will have to work in training camp to keep to the honor.

Mike Green is atop the depth chart at strong safety meaning Bobby Gray will have to win the job from the incumbent.

"We would like to have two good players at every position," Smith said. "We feel real good about having a guy like Bobby who is our third safety that's that close to the starters."

David Terrell is the top option to replace the departed Dez White. The former first-round pick had a flashback to his days at Michigan on Wednesday. Terrell beat R.W. McQuarters on a jump ball from Rex Grossman, who threw the pass on a dead run.

"David Terrell, you've seen him working out here; he's made a lot of plays," Smith said. "Look how he finished today. That's what he says he's capable of doing. We need to get him the ball. We got him the ball a few times and he's made some plays. I like his progress."

The free agent acquisitions on the offensive line have turned an area of weakness into a position of depth. The team has tried several different combinations on the line throughout the past three months, which should help incase of injury during the season.

''The offensive line should be a strength,'' Smith said. ''Through the course of the year you normally have to use a lot of different combinations. We've been able to get guys reps at different positions, so we look at it as a positive.''

John Tait, who missed the final week of practice because of a pulled groin, remains the team's right tackle meaning the Bears will go with Qasim Mitchell on the left side.

"Tait is the right tackle," Smith said. "We've been able to get John a few reps on the left side, just in case, as an insurance policy. But John will be the right tackle. 'Q' Mitchell has made progress and, of course, Aaron (Gibson) was until he got hurt."

While Gibson has also missed time this week because of a knee problem, the team looks relatively healthy heading to Bourbonnais.

However that can't be said for Marc Colombo. It appears the 2002 first-round pick will not be ready to practice anytime soon, let alone the start on training camp on July 28.

''We don't know exactly how long it'll take,'' Smith said. ''I just know he's doing everything he possibly can, and he's a bonus if he's able to give us something this year.''

Colombo has undergone two surgeries to repair a severe left knee injury he suffered during his rookie campaign. He's been unable to do anything more than work on his conditioning while the team works on the field.

Another potential problem is getting first-round pick Tommie Harris into training camp on time. Parameters of deal had been already worked out with Harris' previous agent, Chicago-based Kennard McGuire before selecting the player last April. Bears general manger Jerry Angelo said the team has talked to Harris' new agent, Eugene Parker, about the agreement that was in place and that financial guru Cliff Stein plans on following up on the matter.

"It's a little bit [of a concern], but I think everything is going to work itself out," Angelo said. ``We had an agreement with his agent on the structure of the deal and we've brought that up with his new agent. We'll get that reiterated. Having Parker or McGuire would not have made a difference on his draft status."

It doesn't appear the Bears will do much with the current roster due in part to the fact they only have about $1 million to spend under the cap. Jason Gildon's name has come up continuously, but the former Steeler pass rush specialist has yet to visit Halas Hall.

"But right now, we're going in thinking we're going to choose our 53-man roster from what we have right now," Smith said.


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