The Bears have all of three padded practices under their belt and the early word is typical training camp stuff: The offense looks great, the defense is coming into its own and everyone is having a good time.
It's still too early in the process to start looking ahead to the final roster, but my colleague Lester took a stab at it over the weekend.
It's part of the fun of training camp and the preseason: it's too early to know anything, so we start prognosticating.
As most fans have, I've tried to read all the practice follow up news I can, whether its been on tweets or from news articles and beat reporters or wherever. If there is a training camp nugget to be found, I want to see it.
So far there really hasn't been anything earth-shattering. It sounds like the defense is still behind the offense but players on both sides of the ball have been documented struggling.
Coach John Fox is said to be releasing a preliminary depth chart soon and that will show which players may or may not be in the driver's seat for playing time and starting jobs.
Until that chart comes out it is tough to say but I thought I would take an early stab and looking at a couple players who could find themselves getting their pink slips before the end of the month.
For one thing, the Bears seem to have way more linebackers than spots. Even with a 3-4 scheme the Bears aren't likely to carry 10 LBs, they could but even so will all the current guys make it?
Beat reporter Adam Hoge mentioned it in his Sunday camp observations story:
At most, Vic Fangio could keep 10 linebackers, but eight or nine seems more likely. So let's say Christian Jones, Mason Foster, Shea McClellin and Jon Bostic all make the team as inside linebackers. Even if the Bears keep five outside guys, one of these names has to go: Pernell McPhee, Lamarr Houston, Jared Allen, Sam Acho, Willie Young or David Bass. McPhee and Houston aren't going anywhere and it's unlikely Allen would be let go given his contract. Meanwhile, Acho is on a one-year deal, but he also has extensive 3-4 experience.
He goes on to mention that Bostic and Young are hampered by injuries, thus limiting their opportunities to make an impression on coaches but it's too early to say for sure. Most reporters have complimented David Bass' progress as well as undrafted rookie Kyle Woestman from Vanderbilt. If those guys really impress a couple of veterans could hit the bricks. It won't be Pernell McPhee, the marquee free agent nor Houston or Allen with their big cap numbers. It's an intriguing thing to keep an eye on.
Rich Campbell also mentions that Mason Foster has looked good and could supplant Shea McClellin in the playing time rotation.
On the other side of the ball, Jordan Mills got beat a couple of times by the aforementioned Bass, also according to Campbell. Aaron Leming also tweeted that Mills was struggling, as well as complimenting Charles Leno. Leno had been filling in for Jermon Bushrod until he got back out yesterday, but it is worth keeping an eye on. Mills struggled last year and the new regime has nothing invested in him.
I can't stress enough how speculative and early it is for these kinds of assessments, but I do think they merit watching.
Granted it is a whole new regime and massive changes to the schemes the team will use, it would be an indictment of former general manager Phil Emery if the Bears moved on from McClellin, Mills and Bostic in one offseason. Site the scheme changes, but Emery always preached athleticism and scheme versatility with his picks and if three of them were jettisoned at once, it would show how much he miscast some of those players.
Even if those players stick there is a possibility that of Emery'a 20 draft picks, as few as four or five of them could be making significant contributions and seeing a lot of playing time (Kyle Long, Alshon Jeffery, Ego Ferguson, Pat O'Donnell and possibly Brock Vereen). Leno or Mills could make it six.
Are there any veteran "surprise" players you see as facing an uphill battle to make the team?