Who doesn’t fall in love with a prospect or two during training camp?
Every year it inevitably happens. Some fringe player starts making huge plays, all the beat reporters do feature stories on his humble, come-from-no-where backstory and suddenly fans are rooting for him to crack the roster and become a regular contributor.
Last week Jake Bartelson at Pro-Football Weekly found seven former Bears that were training camp stars but regular season duds.
Now his efforts were great and brought back a lot of memories for me. So I thought, why not go one step further and do a Bears All-Training Camp Team? The best July/August stars who were never heard from again!
Once I list my picks, feel free to sound off in the comments with the guys you remember.
QB - Caleb Hanie
Unfortunately, the Bears did hear from Hanie in the regular season. He ended up being pressed to play in a critical situation in a playoff game and came super close to leading a come-from-behind victory when he threw a pick to B.J. Raji. Some fans still thought he could be a good back up but the 2011 season shut that down for good. Not all who glitter in the preseason are gold.
FB - Harvey Unga
After being selected in the supplemental draft, Unga seemed like he showed up in Bourbonnais for ten years but it was really just four straight from 2010 to 2013.
RB - P.J. Pope
Pope spent three preseasons with the Bears between 2006 and 2008. In 2006 he totaled 153 yards on 40 attempts (3.8 YPC). In the second and fourth games though he averaged over 4 yards a carry and even scored a TD against the Browns. He never had a regular season carry for Chicago.
WR- Mike Hass
WR - Brandon Rideau
Hass spent three summers with the Bears between 2006 and 2008. He showed enough potential to be touted among fans as a sleeper pick who could possibly have some role on the team back in those WR deficient years. In the 2007 preseason he totaled four catches for 67 yards and a TD, in ‘08 he had two grabs for 14 yards. I can specifically remember fans being disappointed when Seattle plucked him up before he could be put on the Bears’ practice squad.
Rideau’s time with the Bears mirrored Hass’. Rideau “broke out” in the 2008 preseason when he hauled in 5 passes for 127 yards and an impressive three touchdowns. Fans thought he could bring some size to the then undersized receiving corps (he was 6’3”) but the best regular season action he ever saw was in the CFL.
TE - Fendi Onobun
If athletic ability won roster spots then Onobun would have been a lock. Tall and athletic, Onobun won the minicamp and training camp praise of everyone but when the preseason game lights came on he dropped a lot of passes.
OL - Levi Horn
OL - James Brown
OL - Ryan Groy
OL - Cody Balogh
C - Taylor Boggs
Mostly a group of nobodies but at one point or another WCG was hoping, praying really, that one of these guys could develop into a competent player during the lean OL years from 2008 to 2012.
DE - Ervin Baldwin
DE - Cheta Ozougwu
Baldwin played two preseasons with the Bears and tallied up three sacks. He showed some ability and fans thought he could be a rotational player. Ozougwu led the Bears in preseason sacks in 2012 with three and appeared in nine regular season games but never did anything noteworthy.
DT - Nate Collins
DT - Jarron Gilbert
This list couldn’t be complete without the notorious pool jumper. Gilbert was Jerry Angelo’s first draft pick in the ‘09 draft following the Jay Cutler trade. Gilbert tallied two sacks in the 2010 preseason and everyone thought that maybe he could put it all together but he only ever appeared in five regular season games. Collins showed a lot of preseason potential but never made an impact when it counted before a knee injury cut his years short.
LB - Bryan Knight
LB - Leon Joe
LB - Kevin Malast
In the ‘02 preseason Knight racked up four sacks and 12 tackles but saw action in just two regular season games. In the 2010 preseason finale alone Malast racked up 12 tackles and a sack. Leon Joe was a special teamer for the Bears in 2005 but he always showed big in the preseason where he racked up some 48 tackles over five t preseasons between 2003 and 2007.
CB - Al Louis-Jean
CB - Greg McCoy
Louis-Jean intrigued many analysts when he was signed by the Bears following the 2014 NFL Draft. The 6’1” CB had a solid career at Boston College and some were surprised he didn’t merit a pick during the selection process. He intercepted a pass and forced a fumble in the preseason and saw special teams duty in nine regular season games but was promptly never heard from again.
S - Al Afalava
S - Brock Vereen
These guys actually saw time on defense, but frankly what safety that this team has drafted since 2007 hasn’t? Afalava started 13 games for the Bears in ‘09 but was quickly gone after that. Vereen started four games in 2013 but was cut after just three last season.