Once a new CBA is agreed upon and players start training camp, some players will walk into starting jobs that they already cemented. Other players will find themselves in positional battles with teammates for the right to earn a starting job. Other than the NFL Draft, this has to be the most exciting part of the off-season for numerous of reasons. You get to see and read up on young players that was drafted a year or two ago on their progression, find out who's shining in camp and who's slumping, and veterans against young up-in-coming players.
Lovie Smith has a handful of potential position battles that he will need to iron out when the players are able to enter training camp. Here are the 5 potential position battles that might occur in training camp this year for the Bears.
Most Intriguing Positional Battle: Starting 3 Technique Defensive Tackle
Favorite Henry Melton
Least Favorite Matt Toeaina
This battle is the most intriguing simply because it pits two equally talented young DT's against each other; Melton and this year 2nd round draft pick Stephen Paea. Melton strength is his athleticism and quickness which fits the description of a penetrating 3 tech. Paea on the other hand brings something different to the position that Lovie hasn't had since the 05-06 Tommie Harris and that's just pure power and strength. Both have different strengths, but both of those strengths works effectively for them as far as getting cleanly through their gaps and getting into the opposing offense backfield. Toeaina filled in nicely for Harris when Harris was struggling last season, but he's most likely to see more time at NT rather than the under tackle.
Under the Radar Postional Battle: Starting Cornerback position.
Favorite Tim Jennings
Least Favorite N/A
Although most fans want to see a free agent signing for this position, Lovie is most likely going to go with what he has. Tim Jennings will most likely come into camp ahead of Zackary Bowman and 2nd year man Joshua Moore, but I'm expecting it to be an open competition between the 3. The most intriguing guy of the 3 is Joshua Moore who was a pretty good corner in the Big 12. It wouldn't shock me if Moore wins the competition considering Lovie hasn't been afraid to go with less experience corners in the past.
Least interesting Positional Battle: #2 Running Back
Favorite Chester Taylor
Least Favorite Khalil Bell
This battle would be a little more interesting if it wasn't a lockout because Harvey Unga would have a legit shot to move up the depth chart. Most likely Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz will go with the veteran Taylor and Unga playing time will depend on how ineffective Taylor is on the field in the 1st half of the season. Bell inability to be a pass catcher out the backfield might put him behind Taylor and Unga who are pretty good in that department.
SE (Split End) Receiver Positional Battle
Favorite Earl Bennett
Least Favorite Devin Hester
With Johnny Knox coming off that near 1000 yard receiving season from the Flanker position, I'm assuming his position is safe. I think the Bears will go out and find an outside receiver in free agency, but in case they don't it will be Earl Bennett and Devin Hester battling for that SE spot. With Martz coming out and saying that Bennett will have larger role in the offense, we can all assume that unless they get a quality free agent WR Bennett and Knox will be your starters and Devin Hester will take a lesser role in the offense so he can primary focus on special teams.
Left Tackle Positional Battle
Favorite Gabe Carimi
Least Favorite J'Marcus Webb
Webb has LT traits, but Gabe Carimi has more experience at the position and played against top level competition not only in his conference, but in practice battling against former Wisconsin DE and Texans 1st round pick JJ Watt. Webb will most likely get a glimpse at the LT spot in training camp, but its Carimi job for now and Webb will continue to develop at the RT position.