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Thursday, April 29, 2010
Five things to watch for at rookie camp

By Michael Wright

Major Wright
Major Wright will be one to watch this weekend at the Bears' rookie minicamp.

Bears rookies shuffled into Halas Hall on Thursday in preparation for rookie minicamp, which runs from Friday through Sunday, and is open to the media, but closed to the public.

But let’s put this into perspective -- it's just a series of workouts in shorts and t-shirts.

Still, there might be some things to glean from watching the Bears put the rookies through their first exposure to NFL workouts. We take a look at five things to watch during the Bears’ rookie minicamp:

1. Free safety Major Wright and cornerback Joshua Moore during one-on-one and seven-on-seven drills.

Because of rules limiting contact at minicamp, it’s tough to gauge how well a rookie’s game would transfer over to the pro level for linemen and linebackers. But it’s a different story for defensive backs, receivers and running backs, who will be able to put their speed and agility on display this weekend, despite the rules outlawing contact.

So Wright and Moore will be worth keeping a close eye on at minicamp. Their footwork, speed and ability to absorb copious amounts of information quickly will be key factors in their transition to the NFL. How well they perform during one-on-one and seven-on-seven drills should provide at least a glimpse of what is to come.

2. Defensive end Corey Wootton’s explosiveness

You won’t see much out of any the club’s linemen during minicamp. But how well Wootton explodes out of his stance should provide an idea about where he is in terms of recovery from tearing the ACL, MCL and meniscus in his right knee during the 2008 Alamo Bowl.

Wootton admits he’s not yet 100 percent, but expects to be by training camp. The staff would be wise to keep a close eye on Wootton during minicamp to prevent the defensive end from suffering any setbacks.

3. Dan Lefevour’s arm

Despite his standing as one of the most productive quarterbacks in NCAA history, Lefevour slipped all the way to the sixth round because scouts were concerned about his arm strength and whether he could transition from the spread to a pro-style offense.

Lefevour gets a chance to debunk those knocks at minicamp. Lefevour said he’s improved at taking direct snaps, after taking mostly shotgun snaps at Central Michigan. It’s expected he’ll mishandle some snaps at minicamp. What’s important, though, is to keep an eye on whether Lefevour makes strides over the weekend.

4. Receiver Freddie Barnes

An undrafted free agent out of Bowling Green, Barnes didn’t receive much publicity from pundits heading into the NFL draft. But you can’t deny the numbers put up by this guy. Barnes pulled down an NCAA record 155 catches as a senior last season, while leading the country in receiving touchdowns (19).

Barnes’ speed was a question mark going into the draft, but he found a way to get open in college. Can he do it in the NFL? We’ll start to see this weekend at minicamp.

5. Tryout players

A reported, 21 players will attend rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. But will any of them be offered contracts?

The club brought in 25 tryout players last year for minicamp, and all of them departed without contracts. The odds aren’t favorable for any of the tryout players being invited back.

Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com