I might as well kick off the defensive side of my series with the most talked about position of the last few days, linebacker. For the record I'm not worried about Brian Urlacher's knee. If he's still not ready to go by week 2 and the Packers game I'll be concerned, but for now, I'm not.
The Bears will probably carry six linebackers on the final 53 man roster, and even if Urlacher is held back week one, I still think they go with just six. You figure the Bears only play with 2 LBs on the field most of the time anyway, and with it pretty much predetermined that the Colts will be in catchup mode that first week, they'll be ok playing short a week. But I think Urlacher will be fine. I hope...
Pro Bowlers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs will be joined by Nick Roach as the starting triumvirate for the Bears. Newly signed Geno Hayes figures to be the primary back up at both outside linebacker positions. And who knows, with Roach filling in at the Mike so much in camp, Hayes may push to be a starter at the strongside OLB position.
Blake Costanzo was signed to fill a special teams role, but he's looked solid playing linebacker in camp. Special teams coach Dave Toub speaks very highly of him so my guess is he'll stick around. Another guy that made a name on special teams is 2nd year pro Dom DeCicco. Last year the converted safety played a solid special teams and practiced at MLB, he has a good shot to make the final 53. And we're already at 6 LBs, but...
Competition could come from the athletic Jabara Williams, who was signed last October, or from Patrick Trahan, who was on the practice squad last year, or from former 6th round draft pick J.T. Thomas who spent last year on injured reserve. All three have the necessary speed the Bears covet at linebacker.
In a knee-jerk reaction to the Urlacher injury, the Bears signed a couple linebackers. Veterans Xavier Adibi and K.C. Asiodu both both have NFL special teams experience, and Adibi has 8 starts under his belt in 4 years. I wouldn't be surprised to see either of these two push for the 6th LB spot based on their experience.
The Bears also have a couple undrafted rookie free agents in camp that could be practice squad candidates. Ronnie Thornton and Adrien Cole will both try and impress the coaches enough to keep a job in 2012. Both played inside linebacker in college, but only the 6'2" Thornton would project there for the Bears. Cole at 5'11" is probably too small to cover the deep middle zone or man up on tight ends down the seam for the Bears. We'll have to keep our eyes on these two on Saturday night.
In case you've missed any of the Position Battles this far, here you go;