The Chicago Bears will hold a mandatory three day minicamp starting tomorrow, Tuesday, June 16th, through Thursday, June 18th. With a brand new coaching regime in place there should be plenty of things for us to keep a close eye on, but here are five things I'll be looking out for.
1) Marty Watch
Pro Bowl tight end Martellus Bennett has elected to skip all of the off season activities so far, costing him a chance at a $100,000 work out bonus. With this week's minicamp a mandatory one, the Bears could fine him around $72,000 if he passes on the three days.
But it looks like he plans to end his self imposed time out.
ESPN is reporting that Bennett made it to Halas Hall today (Monday 6/15) for his pre-minicamp physical.
Bennett is expected to participate in the minicamp after skipping the Bears' entire voluntary offseason program due to a contract dispute, per the source.
The player most taking advantage of Bennett's absence is probably oft-injured Zach Miller. If you remember, it was Bennett's mini suspension last training camp that opened the door for Miller to shine before getting injured in the 2nd preseason game.
New offensive coordinator Adam Gase will utilize two tight end sets, so the other guy taking advantage of extra reps is newcomer Bear Pascoe. Last year in Atlanta Pascoe only had 2 receptions, but he's best known for his blocking.
But lets face it, no one on the roster is as good as Bennett. The Bears need a healthy and motivated Bennett for their offense to really click. Hopefully at some point during the next 3 days, Bennett will address the media and that will be sure to draw a crowd.
EDIT: The media has requested that Bennett speak after practice. No confirmation from him however. Jay Cutler and John Fox will address the media.
2) Shea and Christian fitting in
So far through the OTA workouts, former defensive end turned 4-3 outside linebacker, turned 3-4 inside linebacker Shea McClellin, has been receiving a lot of praise for his work at the new position. With Jon Bostic still nursing a back injury from last season, McClellin has taken advantage of the extra reps.
When asked about some young players he could build around, Chicago defensive coordinator Vic Fangio first mentioned 2nd year corner Kyle Fuller, but then he pointed out McClellin and fellow inside backer Christian Jones.
"You know, when he (McClellin) came out of college he was a versatile guy, he played a lot of different positions and maybe now it's time to lock him down into hopefully an inside linebacker spot," Fangio said. "But if it doesn't work out, maybe we move him back out, but I want to see him at inside linebacker for a while... .
"I think he's got good instincts. He's got some size, he can run, I think he can be a good blitzer from in there. So just a little bit of everything."
Jones has been playing alongside McClellin a lot during OTAs and Fangio has praise for the 2nd year pro from Florida State too.
"He's got good size. He's got good athletic ability. He's a young, eager guy, and football's important to him. I think he's got a bright future if he can develop."
3) Kyle's new position?
Last week Pro Bowl right guard Kyle Long received some work at right tackle for a couple of reasons. One, John Fox is on record in saying he likes his offensive linemen to be versatile, and two, the Bears were down a couple tackles during the final voluntary OTA.
I'm in the keep Long at guard camp, but if the coaches feel his technique has improved enough, I'm OK with moving him to tackle. My biggest concern is just throwing him out there without enough work. If they truly believe Long's future is at tackle, then slot him there right now. No more guard reps.
We should find out the Bears' plans for him tomorrow at the first day of mandatory minicamp.
4) When willstart?
The Bears will be smart with how much info they throw at the rookie, but he's also the most athletically gifted wide out on the roster. It's just a matter of time before he's starting opposite Alshon Jeffery, with free agent signee Eddie Royal working out of the slot.
Jeffery has already been impressed with the rookie.
"He's a great player," Jeffery said, rare praise for a rookie. "He's an explosive player. We can't wait for the season. What he's going to do on the field is going to be great."
"He made a lot of plays in college," Jeffery said. "We look forward to him doing the same thing here — make plays, stretch the field, do what he does best.
"He's a pretty good player. It's a process he's learning right now. We're just staying on top of him, coaching him up."
Head coach John Fox is also happy with White so far.
"He's very gifted, no doubt," Fox said. "He's got a great catch radius. He's got a good knack for the game. I think the thing that probably I didn't know before getting here was how hard he works at it. He's done everything we've asked. He's had a tremendous offseason thus far."
5) What will the offense look like?
Offensive coordinator Adam Gase has a history with Mike Martz. He's also worked with Peyton Manning's offense and he's been around some West Coast stuff. The Bears are playing it very coy about what their new O will look like, but from gathering bits and pieces from various reports, here's what I think.
His schemes will resemble Martz's stuff, and that's a good thing, because Jay Cutler played some good football in that scheme. But Gase wants to have some Manning-like line of scrimmage options open to Cutler every play, which concerns me a little, because he was knocked for not making the right reads last season. Maybe the problems last year were more coaching related, but until we see the kind of freedom Cutler has at the line under Gase, it's hard to know for sure. This is a John Fox team,
What are some thing's you'll be keeping an eye on during the three day minicamp?