Well, ladies and gents, tonight marks the second of many "first steps" that the Bears are taking to be in complete football readiness when they get to the season opener against the Colts on September 9th. Tonight, the Bears take the field in pads for the first time. We've got an Open Thread all loaded in and we'll have a recap of the day's action once practice ends as we look towards preseason action in just shy of two weeks.
That being said, there are plenty of players that have a lot riding on having a good camp or preseason in order to stick around the roster. Today, I thought we'd take a look at some of these players prior to tonight's practice.
DE Corey Wootton - Favreslayer has had an interesting ride of it. His one career sack instantly made him a fan favorite as the guy that knocked Brett Favre out of his final game, but the rest of his production leaves a lot to be desired as he's either spent that time injured, unable to see the field, or not producing. The fourth-round draft pick with first-round talent really hasn't been able to put it all together, at all. And with the Bears spending an actual first round pick on Shea McClellin, Wootton edges a little further towards the door. If he wants playing time, he has to show that he can actually produce.
WR Dane Sanzenbacher - In many eyes, he's already gone, with the complete overhauling the wide receiver position has taken over the last five months. But Sanzenbacher can make things interesting at the bottom of the receiver depth chart if he can rediscover the form of early 2011 and stop dropping so many passes, and if the Bears discover they can do without Devin Thomas on special teams. Even if Sanzenbacher doesn't crack the roster, it's possible he could be spun for a seventh-round pick with a good enough camp and preseason.
OT J'Marcus Webb / OT Chris Williams - Okay, maybe I'm cheating here. But one of these guys really does need to take over the left tackle role instead of just "out-do" the other guy. Chris Williams has kinda gotten a bum rap at left tackle, in my opinion - yes, he was an Angelo draft pick, with the free injury and surgery thrown in. The Bears also signed Orlando Pace, forcing Williams to right tackle for a year when Williams is not a mauler. He was somewhat serviceable at left guard when he stepped in over there because the Bears didn't want to break up the continuity with Webb at right tackle and Frank Omiyale at left. Then last year Webb was handed the left tackle spot. I know Williams' one-time domination of Jared Allen at left tackle is similar to Craig Steltz's interception that one time, in that it's something unlikely to be repeated and certainly something to make fun of, but it's good to see a first-round pick finally stop getting shuttled around and put in competition for the position he was originally drafted for.
The bottom line, either Webb needs to show why Mike Tice believed in him so much, or Williams needs to show why he was a first round draft pick.
S Major Wright - Wright hasn't been horrible, but he hasn't been good. And the Bears just spent a third round pick on Brandon Hardin, who could breathe down his neck for starting time opposite Chris Conte if he's fully healthy.
DE Shea McClellin - McClellin had some doubters when he was picked ahead of David DeCastro and several other good pass rushers. He'll be on the roster no matter what, but he needs to show why he was the 19th pick in the draft.
Who are some players that in your eyes need to have a good camp and preseason?