Monday, August 9, 2010
Versatile Clark tops depth chart at H-back
By Jeff Dickerson
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Depth charts released in early August are rarely set in stone.
Keeping that in mind, the Bears gave us a glance Monday at how they anticipate lining up in the preseason opener Saturday night in San Diego.
Two of the most interesting developments center around veteran tight end Desmond Clark and third-year wide receiver Earl Bennett.
Clark, who is enjoying a strong camp up to this point, is currently listed as the Bears first-string H-back, while Greg Olsen (first team) and Brandon Manumaleuna (second team) currently sit atop the depth chart at the tight position.
Desmond Clark's versatility put him atop the depth chart at H-back.
"It's not a new role," Clark said. "We've been doing that around here for awhile. The second tight end is asked to do a lot of things. You can be on the line, in the backfield, out wide. It's just the position. You have to do multiple things, so it's not anything new. I'll still be doing all the stuff I've been doing. I don't think it'll be different than what I've been doing in training camp, or anything different than the last seven years I've been here."
Most agree Olsen's strongest attribute is pass catching while Manumaleuna has carved out a nice NFL career primarily as a blocker. On the other hand, Clark is probably the most balanced tight end on the roster, and it's that versatility that likely makes the twelve-year pro the best option at H-back.
"I hope so, I like the word versatile," Clark said. "Hopefully that's what they're looking at, that I can come in and contribute in a lot of different ways. Whatever they want me to do, I'm available."
While Clark remains on the first team, albeit in a slightly different capacity, Bennett opens up the preseason as a third-string wide receiver, behind Rashied Davis who joins Devin Aromashodu on the second unit.
"I'm not sure [about being third string]," Bennett said. "All I can do is go out, work hard, make plays and just prove my point on the field. That's about all I can do."
Bennett enjoyed a productive sophomore campaign (54-717-2), but an offseason knee procedure limited the receiver’s participation in offseason workouts. Although the wideout claims to "feel good" physically, missing those offseason reps likely put Bennett somewhat behind at the start of training camp.
"It was definitely frustrating to see those guys out there working and wanting to be a part of it," Bennett said. "I just got to make the best of my chances in camp right now and just make progress.
"I feel like I got a pretty good grasp of every position that we have. I just need to stay in my playbook and continue to work hard."
Outside of Clark and Bennett, the other noteworthy developments included Matt Forte remaining the Bears number one running back, and the new guard combination of Roberto Garza (left guard) and Lance Louis (right guard).
"That's the combination we feel comfortable with right now," Bears head coach Lovie Smith said. "Roberto is pretty versatile, he can play center and the right guard position too. But right now, from what the guys have told us, this is the combination we want to see for a while."
Camp battle focus: Quarterback
Health permitting, Caleb Hanie is a lock to open up the regular season as the No. 2 quarterback.
That much is certain.
What's unknown is whether sixth-round draft choice Dan LeFevour can earn a spot on the Bears final 53-man roster. Last season the Bears opted to break camp with only two quarterbacks on the active roster (Jay Cutler and Hanie), and the team may again decide this summer to allocate the spot usually reserved for a third quarterback to another position.
Since the Bears decided to rest Cutler for most of Monday's practice, LeFevour saw his most extensive action of the summer, running the second-team offense in team drills.
"He may some pretty good throws out here," Clark said. "He looked decisive and not nervous, [because] that's one thing you look for in a rookie, that's he's not out there with a deer-in-the-headlights kind of stare. He was out there looking comfortable and making plays."
Catch of the day came courtesy of undrafted rookie free-agent receiver Greg Mathews, who fully extended to haul in a diving grab down the seam during 11-on-11.
Juaquin Iglesias put together his second consecutive sharp practice, catching almost everything thrown his way and beating cornerback D.J. Moore deep down the right sideline.
Brian Urlacher thumped Chester Taylor in the backfield during a team drill. Urlacher's having a solid camp and is showing no effects from the last year’s season-ending wrist surgery.
Julius Peppers deflected a Caleb Hanie pass at the line of scrimmage during 11-on-11. Peppers has routinely disrupted passing lanes in camp, batting away at least three or four passes since camp began.