Training Camp Preview: Offense

The Chicago Bears finally flock to training camp at the end of this week, as 80 players make the trek to Bourbonnais. Here are JC's top five things to watch on the offensive side of the football.

How are the reps being divided amongst the QBs?
For the majority of the offseason work, starter Jay Cutler and backup Caleb Hanie split the reps at the game's most important position about 50-50, while sixth-round pick Dan LeFevour did little more than stand on the sideline and watch. But now that the Bears have added a fourth signal caller to the mix, second-year pro Mike Teel via free agency last week, suddenly there is another mouth to feed under center. While it's never a bad idea to have an extra passer lying around in training camp so all the position groups get plenty of opportunities to catch balls during individual drills, it would be surprising to see either LeFevour or Teel get very many snaps in 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 action.

It's a foregone conclusion that Cutler will get every first-team rep, as he's learning offensive coordinator Mike Martz's system for the first time just like most everyone else, and Hanie shouldn't have to sit behind LeFevour or Teel, either.

Is Unga going to end up a tailback or a fullback?
Despite the fact that the Bears appeared to be fairly deep at running back, general manager Jerry Angelo managed to procure BYU's Harvey Unga in Round 7 of the 2010 NFL Supplemental Draft. Unga will be added to a crowded backfield that already consisted of starter Matt Forte, free-agent signee Chester Taylor, special-teams ace Garrett Wolfe and 2009 surprise contributor Kahlil Bell. That being said, none of the aforementioned ball carriers has proven to be especially effective in short-yardage or goal-line situations, meaning there may be an opening for the 6-0, 239-pound Unga to compete for carries as a rookie.

Should the coaching staff decide to give him a look at fullback, he'll be behind starter Will Ta'ufo'ou since Unga has never been a lead blocker, although Eddie Williams was a tight end in college and is still learning the position.

Where exactly does Manumaleuna fit in the offense?
Bears fans spent the entire offseason hearing about how Martz never bothers to incorporate his tight ends into the passing game, even when he had a physical freak like Vernon Davis at his disposal in San Francisco. But throughout minicamp and OTAs, both Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark were getting a lot of first-team reps, running a lot of routes and, yes, catching a lot of balls. Nevertheless, that had a lot to do with the fact that free-agent addition Brandon Manumaleuna has been rehabbing a knee scope since the end of last season, and since he is expected to be good to go in Bourbonnais, both Olsen and Clark could see their snaps reduced.


TE Brandon Manumaleuna
Scott Boehm/Getty

Clark himself admitted he has no idea how the depth chart is going to shake out once Manumaleuna enters the picture, but remember Martz has gone out of his way to say tight ends must be blockers first in his scheme.

Is Bennett still on the outside looking in at receiver?
Another comment Martz has made on more than one occasion is how much he really digs what he has at wideout, which sounds surprising since most of the national analysts believe this team to be in desperate need of an alpha dog. But Devin Hester and Johnny Knox are solidified at flanker (Z) and split end (X), respectively, with Devin Aromashodu filling in all over the place as the jack-of-all-trades No. 3. In addition to Hester, Knox and Aromashodu, Rashied Davis and Juaquin Iglesias both opened eyes on the second team.

Earl Bennett, conversely, spent the first half of the offseason coming back from a knee scope and the second half being outshined by his teammates, so he better pick it up at Olivet Nazarene University if he wants to be a part of the rotation again.

Will the offensive line look any different in full pads?
All this talk about the skill-position players means very little if the offensive line doesn't block better than it did a year ago, when Forte didn't have many holes to run through and Cutler was hit way too often. To the surprise of many, the front office didn't do much to the personnel, doing nothing more than selecting tackle J'Marcus Webb in the seventh round of the NFL Draft, so veterans must bounce back and youngsters must develop. The key will be whether or not moving Frank Omiyale from left guard to his more natural home at right tackle makes a difference in his performance, which featured more lows and highs his first year in Chicago.

Much has been made about Olin Kreutz having surgery on his Achilles and being healthier now than he was a year ago, but expecting him to be a Pro Bowler again may be unrealistic at 33 years old and in the final year of his contract.


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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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