The linebacker position coincides with the thought of the Chicago Bears. Nagurski, George, Butkus, Singletary and Urlacher have built and carried on the tradition for The Monsters of The Midway. Last year the monsters were not too scary. The defense was one of the worst in franchise history. Coming into this camp the bears are looking to bring the ferocity back in to the windy city. In the off season the bears lost their leading tackler James Anderson to the New England Patriots and moved Shea McClellin back to linebacker.
Strong Side Linebacker
With McClellin's athleticism look for him to compete for the strong side linebacker spot this training camp. He may have struggled at defensive end these past few years, but McClellin has played linebacker before at Boise. He is decent against the run and uses his hands to his advantage to shed blocks. Although he has the athleticism to run with running backs and tight ends the question is how well he will do in zone coverage. The other contender for the position is Jon Bostic. The bears want to get Bostic on the field any way they can. Bostic and McClellin are completely different players. Bostic is a hammer that wants to bring the pain like classic Chicago Bears linebackers. He bulldozes his way through blockers and ball carriers but overruns the play sometimes. In zone coverage Bostic roams the middle and hunts for heads. In man coverage he is easily beaten due to lack to lateral quickness. Do not discount Khaseem Green in the fight for the position either. He showed flashes of brilliance last year along with flashes of what are you thinking. He is not very strong in the run game. Green does excel in zone and man coverage though. The battle for the strong side linebacker position is an intriguing battle to watch this training camp.
There are two names in the fight for the middle linebacker position, Jon Bostic and DJ Williams. Bostic was thrown into the fire last year with the injury to Williams. The bears were looking to have Bostic develop for a year or two before being put into the starting spot. When Bostic replaced Williams last year we got a good look at why the bears wanted to sit Bostic for a year or two. Bostic has hitting power that is unmatched but is sometimes out of control. He takes himself out of position by looking for the big hit. His man coverage skills need to be developed, he struggles to keep up with faster tight ends. Williams is a machine in the middle. Production is all you get from the man when he is healthy. He has had more than 70 tackles seven times in his career. Williams and Bostic are very similar in playing styles with one big difference. Williams is a veteran that understands the importance of staying in position to make the solid play instead of looking for the highlight play.
Weak Side Linebacker
There is obviously one pick for this position, Lance Briggs. He is the leader in the locker room and a warrior on the field. The defense was not the same once Briggs went down with his shoulder injury. He is a sideline to sideline player that can play every down. There are no glaring holes in his game. The only problem, is father time catching up with him? At 33 years old he only has 2-3 years left in the tank. This training camp is the time for him to start passing his knowledge on to Green, McClellin, and Bostic.
This camp will have a heated battle for the strong side linebacker position. McClellin looks to be the guy who will win the spot. His talents are better suited than Green and Bostic for the spot. The bears also have a first round pick invested in the guy. They do not want a first round pick to go to waste again. Williams will most likely win the middle linebacker spot over Bostic. Williams’ experience cannot be overlooked. He is 31 years old and there is not much time left for him in league. Bostic's time to grow into a better player is now and his time to shine is right around the corner. Briggs will be the starter at the weak side linebacker position. He is poised to have another great year.