Thursday I will start a five part series on the 5 Bears players who have the most to prove. Coming up with a solid 5 players out of 15 was challenging, but at the same time fun. I tried to base this list off of players who have high expectations this season, players who need to take that next step, and players who, until now, have failed to deliver on expectations. Because there's not much to criticize about the 9th ranked defense last season, I could only come up with six guys on defense with the most to prove, compared to the 30th ranked offense last season who comprise the other nine..
The series will actually start on Thursday, but here's a look at 15 players who was considered for the five spots in the series.
Earl Bennett - Bennett had an impressive season in his 1st year in Martz offense, which saw him towards the end of the season become Cutler's most reliable target. Although he didn't have a great statistical season, his performance didn't go unnoticed by Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz who has a bigger role in mind for Bennett in 2011.
Zackary Bowman - Coaches and fans had high expectations for Bowman going into the season last year. When Bowman showed in week 3 against the Packers that he wasn't up to task as far as zone coverage assignments and tackling he was immediately benched for Tim Jennings. Going into training camp this year, Bowman will have a chance to earn his job back.
Gabe Carimi - Some fans are prematurely looking at him as the savior for this offensive line. While one man doesn't make an offensive line; Carimi will still have to show coaches and his offensive teammates that he will not be overwhelmed by the difference in competition between the NCAA and NFL.
Jay Cutler - Being the most sacked and hit QB last year, playing a whole 2nd quarter on a MCL tear, and on top of it all playing with Type 1 Diabetes; Cutler doesn't have to justify his toughness to anyone. However he still has to prove that the light has finally clicked on as far QB mechanics is concerned.
Johnny Knox - Knox might be the most talented receiver on the team, but there are still things he needs to work on to take that next step in a WR development.
Mike Martz - After a disappointing start to the season that at one point saw his starting QB get beaten into a concussion in front of millions, Martz after the bye week starting balancing out his game plan. The biggest wonder is if he can sustain that balance next season while also staying true to his scheme.
Henry Melton - Used only as a situational pass rusher last season; Melton will go into this season being counted on to fill the 3 technique void left by Tommie Harris.
Joshua Moore - Being active for only 3 games last season for special teams purposes, Moore has a chance to show coaches this training camp that he wants the starting CB position more than veteran Tim Jennings and a hungry Zack Bowman.
Greg Olsen - Improved significantly as a blocker to where Martz rewarded him by giving him many opportunities to make plays in the passing game lining him up as a traditional TE, Joker TE, and at times at H-Back. Olsen has to prove he can build off 2010 and turn 2011 to a pretty good to great statistical year.
Nick Roach - The fast and athletic linebacker for the past two seasons has taken a backseat to the more experience Pisa Tinoisamoa.
Chester Taylor - Taylor in 2011 will have to prove he can hold off his #2 spot from talented youngsters Khalil Bell and Harvey Unga.
J'Marcus Webb - Webb showed in 2010 that he has the skills to be a starting Tackle in this league. Now he has to prove that the light cut on mentally in his 2nd year.
Chris Williams - A former 1st round pick in 2008, Williams was deemed the "Left Tackle of the future" the day he was drafted. Fast Forward 3 years later and Williams is now not even a lock to make the roster.
Corey Wootton - Going into his 2nd year, Wootton will need to prove to coaches that he can be counted on to make an impact on the defensive line.
Major Wright - Injuries last season robbed him from getting a full-time starting spot in his 1st year. With the likelihood of Danieal Manning finding another home this season, Wright will need to make the coaches comfortable of losing Manning to FA.