I think the Bears are in pretty good shape in terms of their immediate help along the offensive line. John St. Clair is a dependable veteran who can step in at either left or right tackle, and he's been running with the first team exclusively in the offseason as John Tait recovers from minor ankle surgery. Likewise, Terrence Metcalf is capable of playing either guard position and has starting experience for this team.
That being said, St. Clair and Metcalf are nothing more than backups and should not be relied upon to start for any significant period of time, which is why it made sense to add guard Josh Beekman and tackle Aaron Brant in April's draft.
What's the best time for a transplanted Bear fan (in NY no less) to come to see the training camp in Bourbonnais? – DickButkus97
I'll let Mike Corbo from the Chicago Bears media relations department answer this one directly:
The following 'theme days' have been scheduled for Bears training camp. Tuesday, July 31 at 5:00 p.m. is Bears Family Night at ONU, a free practice with other family activities held in ONU Stadium followed by a fireworks extravaganza set to music. Wednesday, August 8 at 9:00 a.m. is the Run with Staley, a one-mile run around campus for kids 14 years old and under led by Staley to celebrate his fifth birthday. Sunday, July 29 is Comcast Hispanic Day. Saturday, August 4 at 7:00 p.m. is Chicago Sun-Times Bears Family Night at Soldier Field presented by Chase, a ticketed practice held at Soldier Field. Tickets for the event will be available for purchase by logging onto www.ticketmaster.com.
I know that Family Night in Bourbonnais was a huge hit last year, although if you're an autograph hound, you should probably hit the first week of camp as opposed to the last week because some of the players can get burned out from signing too much.
I know you've written that you don't think Alex Brown should have been benched in favor of Mark Anderson. Now that he's the starter, what kind of numbers to you think Anderson can produce? – Tim (Duluth, MN)
It's not that I don't believe Anderson deserves to start, but I just think it would be silly to change his role considering how successful he was as the third defensive end his rookie year. Brown may not have the natural pass rush instincts that Anderson does, but he will get you 6 or 7 sacks and holds the point of attack very well against the run. If anything, I feel Adewale Ogunleye may have been a target to be replaced because he was wildly inconsistent last season, plus he's got a $3.9 million salary this year as opposed to Brown's $595,000.
I'd expect Anderson to get around 10 sacks in 2007 because the NFL now knows who he is, but his ability to play the run on first and second down should be a much bigger concern than his ability to get after the quarterback.
Who are we going to miss more: Ian Scott, Alfonso Boone, Todd Johnson, or Cameron Worrell? – TexasBearsFan
Boone might be missed if an injury or two occurs along the defensive line because he can play both tackle and end, yet he wasn't a standout at either position. Both Johnson and Worrell were solid players on special teams, but neither was a very good safety and shouldn't be missed too much. Scott, however, was arguably the best run-stuffer the Bears had in the trenches, and you can make a convincing argument that the rush defense began to suffer immediately after Scott was replaced in the starting lineup by Tank Johnson.
I was very surprised that Scott didn't get a little more love on the free agent market, and considering it only cost a million dollars for the Eagles to lure him to Philadelphia, I think GM Jerry Angelo should have made more of an effort to keep him.
With J.D. Runnels gone and Obafemi Ayanbadejo newly added to the mix, what is the fullback depth chart looking like? Will Desmond Clark work more as an H-back in motion in the new offense? - ChicagoHoosier
The fullback depth chart is going to look just as you'd expect, with Jason McKie the unquestioned starter at the position and Ayanbadejo taking over for Runnels as second string. I don't think the organization was ever happy with Runnels after drafting him, mostly because he seemed to be more of a finesse player and was more comfortable catching passes out of the backfield than blocking on run plays. Ayanbadejo is not exactly an All-Pro fullback, but he can get the job done and is much more valuable on special teams than Runnels will ever be.
In terms of Clark and his role in the offense, expect rookie Greg Olsen to be utilized as an H-back every now and then while Clark continues to line up with a hand on the ground almost exclusively.
Would you welcome Daunte Culpepper to Chicago? – Shipo
I borrowed this question off the message board since it was such a hot topic, and the Culpepper connection to Chicago has always been there because the Bears decided to draft (cough, cough) Cade McNown ahead of him back in 1999. Culpepper is now 30 years old, but he looked 40 last year trying to move around the pocket with a knee that was obviously still shredded and not even close to 100%. He appears to be more healthy now than at any point in his year-long Dolphins tenure, but Miami obviously decided to move in another direction by making a deal with Kansas City for Trent Green.
I know that Culpepper would have been MVP of the league in 2004 had it not been for Peyton Manning throwing for 49 touchdown passes in that Tecmo Bowl-like season, but he's never proven to be any good without Randy Moss and is not nearly as effective if he can't use his legs to make plays anymore.
What's up with all the Chris Brown rumors? Does he make any sense for the Bears? – Clayton (Destin, FL)
Personally, I don't see where Brown would fit in this offense since the Bears are totally committed to Cedric Benson as the featured back. Brown has had some success in the NFL when healthy, but he gets banged up all the time due in large part to a running style that is way to erect and exposes him to some vicious hits from time to time. He rushed for 1,067 yards in only 11 games back in 2004 and is actually a Winfield, IL native, but he doesn't appear to be the kind of back that can complement Benson's straight-ahead attack.
There may be some fairly big names out there once a few veterans get cut in training camp, but I believe the Bears are happy with Adrian Peterson and Garrett Wolfe as the second- and third-stringers right now.
Are there any Bears players who might get cut in training camp that would come as a surprise? – Trent (Oswego, IL)
On the defensive side of the ball, I would not be blown away if Chris Harris gets pink-slipped even though he is currently the starter at strong safety. We all know how much Lovie Smith thinks of Adam Archuleta and how badly he wanted to coach him again, so it will be interesting to see what happens at that position come training camp. Offensively, I could see Beekman taking over for Anthony Oakley with his ability to play both guard and center, plus Oakley was nothing more than a practice-squader not too long ago and wasn't active on game day most of last season.
But if you're looking for a shocker, keep an eye on Mark Bradley because he could be considered expendable if Devin Hester continues to shine at receiver and Brandon Rideau keeps improving as he has lately.
A lot of people are expecting Bernard Berrian to emerge as the top wideout. But do you see him getting more catches than Muhsin Muhammad? – Patty (Hattiesburg, MS)
I agree with you that many folks are looking for Berrian to take over as the No. 1 target as Muhammad fades off into the sunset, but I'm not quite ready to make that leap. First of all, Muhammad keeps himself in incredible shape and is still capable of being awfully effecive even though he's lost a step or two of flat-out speed. And on top of that, Berrian is yet to play an entire 16-game schedule in his three-year career and still much more effective down the field than he is over the middle.
Berrian might lead the team in receiving yards, but if I had to put money on it, I'd say Muhammad continues to reel in more catches.
There's a big gap between the end of OTAs and the beginning of training camp. What are you going to do to keep busy? – Vince (Elgin, IL)
As I have said repeatedly in many different capacities, covering an NFL team is a year-round job that rarely affords much time off the clock. But I'll be using part of the upcoming dead period to put together the next issue of Bear Report and prepping for all my daily responsibilies once training camp gets here. I'm sure I'll get away for a little while come Independence Day weekend like most every American, but there will be plenty to write about here at BearReport.com and just as much to talk about on my regular radio and television gigs.
And although I'm working my tail off from the first whistle of training camp through the final whistle of Super Bowl XLII, as manager Joe Reardon said in Bull Durham, "It beats the hell out of working at Sears."
|John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and Editor in Chief of BearReport.com. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.|