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Thursday, July 24, 2008
Bears position battles

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

The Chicago Bears can't say for sure who will start at quarterback, receiver or running back. That makes for a few position battles, don't you think?

No. 1 and No. 2 receiver: Devin Hester vs. Marty Booker vs. Mark Bradley vs. Brandon Lloyd

The Bears bid farewell to 2007 starters Bernard Berrian and Muhsin Muhammad, leaving this position wide open for competition. They envision Hester as their top receiver, but an unexpected holdout -- not to mention his inexperience at the position -- could curtail their plans.

Otherwise, the position is a completely up in the air. Booker is a trusted veteran but not exactly a game-breaker, while Bradley has had trouble staying healthy. Lloyd, meanwhile, is on his third NFL team in six years. There isn't usually much to read into this, but for those interested: On the first practice of training camp Wednesday, the Bears had Booker and Bradley working with the starters.

Intensity index: Red hot

Running back: Matt Forte vs. Kevin Jones vs. Adrian Peterson

The Bears have all but anointed Forte as the successor to the Cedric Benson/Thomas Jones era, but Forte will still have to prove himself in training camp. He has the size and speed to be a 20-carry back in the NFL, but the Bears might ultimately choose to take it slow with him.

To that end, they signed Jones to provide depth and to hedge their bets a bit. Jones is less than seven months removed from surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee and isn't ready to practice yet. But in a best-case scenario, he could be ready to contribute a few weeks into the regular season.

Should the Bears need help before then, veteran Adrian Peterson will be available, as always. The Bears prefer to limit him to a backup role, but he is in position to bail them out if necessary.

Intensity index: Hot