The Clock is Ticking

The Bears will hold their first practice in Bourbonnais one month from today and begin their defense of the NFC North title. Whether the entire team will be in place is the most pressing issue as July nears.

Although Thomas Jones and Lance Briggs boycotted 14 organized team activities, they were in attendance for mini-camp. Each is in search of new contracts and represented by Drew Rosenhaus. Nathan Vasher also missed a portion of the OTAs, but returned to Halas Hall for the final week of work.

Demotions were the punishment for Briggs and Jones not being on the field for "voluntary" workouts. Both worked with the second team during mini-camp and will likely open training camp in the same position for a period of time. Vasher's situation is a little bit more uncertain because he tried to make amends with the team.

Obviously the best players will be atop the depth chart when the season starts, but for the time being Coach Lovie Smith appears content to send a message to his team.

The Bears also have some work to do in respects to their draft class. Of the seven players, three have agreed to deals. Second round picks Danieal Manning and Devin Hester, third round pick Dusty Dvoracek and fourth rounder Jamar Williams remained unsigned.

No Respect
Despite having two former top ten picks in their backfield, it wasn't enough to get the Bears in the top half of the league in terms of depth at running back according to ESPN.

Behind Jones' career-high 1,335 yards rushing, the Bears finished eighth in the league on the ground last season and had three players average over 4.0 yards per carry. However, when it came to grading the depth at running back Chicago ranked 17th overall.

It's unclear what criteria were used to determine the order. Minnesota was slotted one spot ahead of the Bears, even though the Vikings were 27th in rushing last season. While the Vikings signed Chester Taylor in the off-season, he's only rushed for more than 500 yards in a season once. FB Tony Richardson will be an improvement as their lead blocker, but entering his 12th season at a physically demanding position there's doubt how much he has left in the tank.

The Bears' 2,099 rushing yards were more than half of the teams ranked in the top ten. The Bears also tied for the league lead with 19 runs of 20 yards or more.


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