Rookies Take the Field

Later today the Bears will open their three-day rookie mini-camp at Halas Hall. It's the first time the draft class will have an opportunity to practice together and for the coaching staff to get a closer look at their new talent.

No roster spots will be won or lost this weekend, but rookies will begin to learn the offensive and defensive schemes. While there will be no contact, the three practices serve as a base for the remainder of the season.

Even though the Bears used just two draft choices on offense, the intriguing storylines of the weekend could center on that side of the ball.

Sixth round pick J.D. Runnels has a tough hill to climb to make the roster. He has two veteran fullbacks ahead of him on the depth chart in Bryan Johnson and Jason McKie. Picking up the offense as early as possible will allow him to focus on football and not worry about what to do when he lines up in the backfield.

Tight ends Timothy Day and Cooper Wallace will have an opportunity to work in front of offensive coordinator Ron Turner for the first time. There's a good chance at least one of the two undrafted free agents will make the roster. Getting a jump on the competition could carry over into off-season workouts.

Punter Joel Stelly and placekicker Josh Huston will have a chance to work in ideal kicking conditions.

Defensively the five draft choices are expected to make the roster. There's raw ability to work with, but the question is how quickly the coaching staff can turn potential into production.

Although Danieal Manning is making the jump from Division II, he has the best opportunity to compete for a starting job. Free safety Chris Harris started 13 games as a rookie, but will have to take a step forward to keep the spot.

The entire team will not practice together until June. It's time for the kids to get out on the field and make mistakes amongst each other so next month can be a productive mix of youth and experience.

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