Change is Part of NFL Way of Life

Before the Bears head to training camp the team has already overhauled 20 percent of the opening day roster from 2004. However, that isn't the only adjustment the team has faced this off-season.

Eleven of the players that made the final cut a year ago are no longer with the organization. The biggest names to go were Anthony Thomas, David Terrell, R.W. McQuarters, and Paul Edinger. There are no veterans currently on the bubble, but the past has proven nothing is for certain.

Bryan Robinson was cut a year ago despite the fact that meant the team carried three defensive tackles with six games of league experience between the trio.

The most dramatic change can be seen on the offensive line, which surrendered 66 sacks last season. The total was the highest in the league and set a dubious franchise record.

Three players that started a significant number of games on the line are no longer in Chicago. Following an injury, Mike Gandy was released early in the season. The team allowed Aaron Gibson to leave via free agency, while injuries hampered Rex Tucker's once promising career.

Quarterback and wideout will also look significantly different from a year ago. The Bears invested three of their six draft picks between the two positions. Free agent money went toward boosting a receiving core that was arguably the worst in the league. Muhsin Muhammad is a definite upgrade over anything the quarterbacks had at their disposal in '04.

Chad Hutchinson and Kyle Orton have replaced Jonathan Quinn and Craig Krenzel.

Although running back has only one departure and addition, it could be the most important move of all. Anthony Thomas became the fifth most productive back in franchise history in four seasons with the Bears. However, he wanted to be a starter and the Bears gave that job to Thomas Jones without a legitimate competition. Thomas will now backup Jones' brother Julius. The Bears used the fourth pick in the draft on Cedric Benson, who is likely to take the starting job in Chicago.

Paul Edinger led the Bears in scoring in each of his five seasons with the Bears, but a year and a half slump led to his release. Doug Brien will kick in his place and should be an upgrade over what Edinger provided during his final 24 games.

Only two defensive players that opened the season with the Bears are no longer with the team.

McQuarters started 14 games last season, but the development of Nathan Vasher and return of Mike Brown made him expendable.

Fourth-round pick Leon Joe lasted just one week into the season before being cut.

The coaching staff will also have a different feel. Lovie Smith fired two assistants, while two others went back to the college ranks. There will be two new faces to incorporate on each side of the ball. Ron Turner has taken over for Terry Shea as offensive coordinator and installed a run oriented scheme.

A new strength and conditioning coach has revamped the team's off-season regiment. Rusty Jones has been a guiding force behind a training camp schedule that only has a handful of two-a-day practices and an increased number of night workouts.


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