Instant Analysis: Lovie Smith's PC

Will Rex Grossman or Kyle Orton get the reps with the first team tomorrow? Can Kevin Jones be ready by the start of the season? Is Chris Williams going to be signed, sealed, and delivered soon? JC takes a look at Lovie Smith's camp-opening presser and offers his unique insider's perspective.

What's the latest on the quarterback situation on the eve of training camp?
Even though this is the primary question on most every Bears fan's mind as we head into Wednesday's training camp-opening practice, there is little to report based on what head coach Lovie Smith had to say Tuesday afternoon. Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton flip-flopped days running the first-team offense during the entire offseason program, but Smith wouldn't even commit to which one of them would get the nod on Day 1 in Bourbonnais. And as you might expect, Smith ran for cover when asked about the possibility of Brett Favre ever wearing a Bears uniform – although he did seem fairly convinced that No. 4 would indeed be playing football once again in 2008.

"Going into the last week of the preseason games," Smith said when asked about when he'd like to make a decision between Grossman and Orton, "you would like to have things in place by then. The third preseason game of the year, that's normally the game where you play the guys you plan on going to war with most of the time. So you want to have, for the most part, your team in place. At least an idea of who you think will be at the top of the starting rotation by the end. It's been that way for us all throughout, and it will be that way this year."

How is the depth chart at running back going to shake out now?

RB Matt Forte
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Don't be surprised if Kevin Jones isn't quite ready to go for the start of the regular season and has to miss the first six weeks on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. This team still has a lot of confidence in Matt Forte even though he is yet to put on a pair of shoulder pads in Chicago, so bringing in Jones was more about strengthening the roster and less about concerns with Forte. Smith didn't say a word about either Adrian Peterson or Garrett Wolfe, leading one to believe that one of them could be looking for work before too long.

"You can just take this for the entire time I'm here," said Smith when asked about why the team felt the need to add Jones despite high praise for Forte. "We'll always try to improve our ballclub, at any position. If a player becomes available, we'll look at him. And that's what happened with Kevin. I liked it then. I like the running back position more right now. And as far as our plans for Kevin, we'll just see where he is once we get him on the field and go from there."

Is there reason to worry since their first-round pick remains unsigned?

OT Chris Williams
Warren Wimmer Photography
Offensive tackle Chris Williams was so impressive when he met the Chicago media for the first time after the draft, going so far to say that the word "holdout" wasn't even in his vocabulary. Yet here we are about 24 hours before the first day of practice, and the former Vanderbilt Commodore is nowhere to be found. Smith remains confident that a deal will not only get done but get done soon, although the 6-6, 315-pounder will start from the bottom just like any other rookie.

"I assume Chris will be here," Smith said when asked how disappointed he would be if Williams misses the beginning of camp, "and you cross those roads if you have to. I don't think we'll have to. I assume he'll be here ready to go."

Can this defense move on from last year and get back to Super Bowl caliber?
It's hard to believe that the Monsters of the Midway fell all the way to 28th in the NFL statistically this past season, struggling greatly against both the run (24th) and the pass (27th). It's easy to simply play the injury card, as this unit lost Mike Brown at safety and Dusty Dvoracek at tackle in the opener, had Nathan Vasher suit up at cornerback just once after Week 3, and watched Tommie Harris battle through 13 games on a sprained knee. And even though Brian Urlacher is finally happy after getting that contract extension Monday, is he an All-Pro in decline or still a potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate?

"That was a good defense," said Smith when asked if his defense this year can play as well as his Super Bowl defense of 2006. "Statistics sometimes can say what you want them to say. We were really good, especially early in the year. We didn't play as well as we needed to at the end. But again, same players, more experience – we think we can play that type of defense. That's our goal: to be that kind of defense."

John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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