The Right Stuff

As the NFL Europe season comes to a close, it's time to look back and see if there are any players worth keeping an eye on as training camp approaches.

The focus of the season has been on the two quarterbacks Chicago allocated to the league.

Kurt Kittner has the advantage of running Ron Turner's system in the past and the two have a close relationship.

However, the Bears aren't going to keep a player on the roster because he's close to the offensive coordinator. They learned their lesson last year when Terry Shea vouched for Jonathan Quinn being ready to handle backup responsibilities.

Kittner became a starter only after injury and has played with mixed results for the Amsterdam Admirals. He's had three touchdown games and three interception efforts.

After three years in the NFL, Kittner is not a development project that you would normally consider with the third quarterback spot.

Kyle Orton is the favorite to earn that responsibility, as a fourth round pick in April's draft he's a lock to make the team unless something unexpected happens.

Ryan Dinwiddie is entering his second year in the NFL. He spent his rookie campaign between the practice squad and being out of football.

Unlike Craig Krenzel, Dinwiddie saw the opportunity to go abroad and the get the snaps he didn't with the Bears. Although he's only appeared as a backup with Hamburg, he's played well in spots.

Dinwiddie is still eligible for the practice squad and could be targeted for the role again this year.

WLB Derrick Ballard and RE Greg White have started every game for the Admirals and Centurions respectively.

Ballard is a converted safety, who at 215 pounds is too light to play linebacker in the NFL. While he may have a chance to compete in the secondary, the depth at the position will push him toward the practice squad.

White has produced three sacks and could factor in as a situational pass rusher. The competition for playing time will be fierce at the top of the defensive line rotation, but White could battle Alain Kashama for a roster spot.

Jamin Elliott is a sixth round selection from Jerry Angelo's initial draft with the Bears in 2002. He's bounced around the league for the past three years and with a young crop of talented receivers on the roster, he'll find himself looking for work elsewhere.

Nicholas Setta has converted 11-of-16 field goals with a long of 48 yards. The Bears have settled on Doug Brien as their placekicker and if they are to carry a kicker on the practice squad it's more likely to be Tyler Jones or Nick Novak.

Zack Abron has performed well in limited action. He's averaged 4.45 Yards on 79 carries with three (two rushing and one receiving) touchdowns. Special teams will be an important part of any decision made on backup running back.

A.J. Ricker is the only offensive player allocated by the Bears to start every game. As a center, he isn't a threat to crack the starting lineup with Olin Kreutz as a mainstay on the offensive line. Still, the Bears are looking for a backup to the four-time Pro Bowler. Terrence Metcalf and Roberto Garza are competing for a starting job at right guard with the other likely to be the second string center. If the Bears decide to go another direction, Ricker could be a possibility.

Cliff Washburn and Bryan Anderson have appeared as backup lineman with two different stories.

Washburn is a converted defensive lineman trying to learn offensive tackle. He's started a handful of games for the Frankfurt Galaxy. As a developmental project, he could be worth putting on the practice squad.

Anderson was a seventh round pick in 2003 and hasn't proven enough to be worthy of keeping around.

The Bears have had some luck NFL Europe players producing for the parent club. Marcus Robinson is obviously the biggest name, but other players on the current roster cut their teeth in the league, including Chad Hutchinson and Marcus Reese.


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