What We Learned: Rookie Minicamp

The Chicago Bears sent their five draft picks and a host of other youngsters through three full days of workouts at Halas Hall this past weekend. What did we learn? Start with these five observations:

1. The quarterback situation behind Cutler is muddled at best
With regard to the depth chart at the game's most important position, there is only one thing Bears fans can be absolutely sure of right now: Jay Cutler is going to be the starter come hell or high water – and hell nearly came last season, courtesy of No. 6. When asked if having a veteran quarterback behind Cutler would be a smart idea, offensive coordinator Mike Martz said that not just he but everyone would probably feel more comfortable if that were the case. Caleb Hanie can't like the sound of that, although he has nothing to worry about just yet from sixth-round pick Dan LeFevour, who looked shaky for three days and needs a lot of work.

He may still be on the roster right now, but Brett Basanez doesn't have a chance to make the team this year and might not even have to pack his bags for training camp if the Bears do indeed bring in an experienced passer.

2. The scouting reports on Wright appear to be accurate
Chicago's top choice in the 2010 NFL Draft, even if he was just a third rounder at No. 75 overall, Major Wright has a good chance to start at the free safety position right away. The former Florida Gator has proven he can make the leap from level to level awfully fast, as he started as a true freshman in Gainesville and quickly became a vocal leader on a dominant defense loaded with future draft picks. Defensive backs coach Jon Hoke was especially impressed with Wright's football IQ and instincts in the secondary, plus his gregarious personality is bound to make him popular in the locker room from Day 1.

He didn't make a lot of plays in 7-on-7 drills because LeFevour and fellow quarterback Juice Williams weren't exactly Philip Rivers and Donovan McNabb out there, but not once was Wright beaten deep.

3. The receivers are set and won't get any reinforcements
Martz may have been guilty of some hyperbole when commenting on his receiving corps Sunday, saying they were going to be the strength of this team in 2010, but he's right to suggest the group is better than most of the pundits think. Devin Aromashodu in particular has a chance to be a breakout star since he finished strong last season and has Cutler's full confidence, plus Earl Bennett and Johnny Knox should only improve as complementary weapons. If Martz can get the football to Devin Hester out in space more often and make better use of his run-after-the-catch ability, his career yards-per-reception average of 13.4 should improve dramatically.


CB Joshua Moore
AP Images: Nam Y. Huh

Don't look for the Bears to add a veteran pass catcher, despite the recent rumors about former Martz disciple Mike Furrey, and if you're wondering whether one of the wideouts at rookie minicamp made a name for himself, wonder no more – they were all pretty bad.

4. The vet corners behind Tillman and Bowman better step it up
The Bears are in pretty good shape at left and right corner, as Charles Tillman and Zack Bowman, respectively, are both terrific players and know how to force turnovers. However, each of them tends to get bitten by the injury bug just a little too often, meaning there's a fair chance one or both will be in street clothes for a contest or two this coming season, so their primary backups have to be ready to go at a moment's notice. With Nathan Vasher gone, that results in Corey Graham getting a shot to work his way out of the doghouse and D.J. Moore possibly proving to the coaching staff that he wasn't a waste of a draft pick last April.

If they fail, Woodny Turenne was the best player on the field at times during rookie minicamp, and fifth rounder Joshua Moore has all the tools to work his way up the pecking order in a hurry.

5. The undrafted rookie free agent to watch is Minor
Coach Lovie Smith has said before that a team needs at least three quality running backs to make it through a season in the NFL, and he definitely has two quality ball carriers in third-year pro Matt Forte and free-agent acquisition Chester Taylor. But behind those two, Kevin Jones has already been released, Adrian Peterson won't be brought back, Garrett Wolfe is yet to show he can do anything offensively and Kahlil Bell may not be a good enough receiver to succeed in Martz's system. Former Michigan Wolverine Brandon Minor did well for himself throughout rookie minicamp and will be with the team this summer in Bourbonnais, where his fearless running and admirable blocking should make the coaching staff smile.

At the very least, Minor deserves a spot on the practice squad, and just like Bell a year ago, that means he's an injury or two away from being a big part of the game plan – Chicago is making more of an effort to splits carries this year, too.


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John Crist is the Publisher of BearReport.com, a Heisman Trophy voter and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.


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