Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Bears Camp Watch
By Kevin Seifert
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Three thoughts as training camps open around the NFL:
One thing I'm certain of: Quarterback Jay Cutler will demonstrate that he is the Bears' quasi-offensive coordinator. And that's not a bad thing.
After three years of surrounding him with ill-fitting talent, the Bears catered to Cutler this offseason and put him in position for his best season with the team. He has his favorite receiver (Brandon Marshall), a position coach he greatly respects (Jeremy Bates) and an offensive coordinator in Mike Tice who actively sought his input in developing the playbook.
Tice will call plays and make final decisions. But Cutler will appropriately have his hands all over the offense, and we should see evidence of that in practice drills and even interviews. That's the best way to get the most out of a talented veteran quarterback in his prime.
One thing that might happen: The Bears might find out they don't have a legitimate left tackle on the roster, the one flaw in efforts to fortify themselves around Cutler. Chris Williams and J'Marcus Webb will compete for the starting job. But to adjust an old saying: If you have two left tackles, you have none.
In an emergency, the Bears conceivably could move 2011 first-round draft pick Gabe Carimi from right tackle, but it's obviously not their preference. Both Williams and Webb have been starting left tackles in winning efforts, but as camp begins it's unclear if either has a long-term future at the position.
One thing we won't see: You never know with these things, but it's hard to imagine anyone complaining about their contract situations now that tailback Matt Forte and linebacker Lance Briggs have received new deals. Briggs requested a trade during training camp last summer, and Forte's disappointment with his status was clear as well.
Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher is entering the final year of his contract but is set to make $7.5 million and has expressed no concerns. Again, sometimes contract disputes rise from nowhere, but for the moment, the Bears' financial dealings appear to be in a happy place.