Bears doubt Major Wright will start

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo suggested Thursday that rookie safety Major Wright faces long odds at cracking the starting lineup.

Rather than base his assessment on Wright's ability, Angelo expressed concern about the safety's availability. Wright fractured his left index finger in the preseason opener against the San Diego Chargers, and he hasn't been able to participate in practice after undergoing minor surgery.

Angelo said "we're not going to rule it out" when asked whether Wright could start in the regular-season opener against the Detroit Lions, but he added that missed practice time would severely hinder such prospects. The general manager addressed Wright's situation, in addition to a variety of team-related topics in somewhat of a state-of-the-Bears'-personnel address.

"He's going to miss some time with the injury, so that's going to put him behind," Angelo said. "I don't anticipate [Wright starting in the opener] because of the lost time.

"He really looks good; certainly looked good against San Diego. Because of the practice time he's going to miss, it's tough because he's a rookie."

Bears coach Lovie Smith stopped short of ruling out Wright for the regular-season opener, but the safety isn't expected to participate in Saturday's preseason home opener against the Raiders. In addition, the club hasn't given any indication on a timetable for Wright's return, but it's expected he'll miss the remainder of the preseason

The team's top draft pick, Wright made seven tackles in less than a half of action against the Chargers before suffering the injury. While Wright quickly generated a buzz among the staff, Angelo pointed out other facets of the team he views as encouraging.

Asked what, specifically, has caught his attention, Angelo pointed to the overall work habits of the team, in addition to how the offense and defense are coming together.

"A lot of energy in terms of work ethic," Angelo said. "Watching our offense come together; that's going to be a work in progress.

"Defensively, we're doing a few different things. We'll probably do a few different things scheme wise this weekend. So we've got a lot of good things going on."

Angelo considers one of those things to be the addition of new offensive coordinator Mike Martz, and the relationship they've developed in trying to add talent commiserate to the demands of the scheme.

"He's been very patient with the guys in terms of their development," Angelo said of Martz. "He doesn't get down on players, doesn't get too high on players. He's excited about the players we have. But he really has a great plan.

"He's got a swagger; a lot of confidence. I can see why he has the kind of resume that he has as an offensive coordinator. We've got a lot of work to do, but [I] feel real good about the direction we're going."

A major component to the Bears' development on offense seems to hinge on improvement along the offensive line, which has undergone a near-constant makeover since the offseason. Angelo praised the work put into solidifying the unit, but also expressed a sense of urgency about the need to settle on the starters.

As it stands, the Bears appear likely to go into the regular-season opener with Olin Kreutz at center, Roberto Garza and Lance Louis at left and right guard, and Chris Williams and Frank Omiyale at the left and right tackle spots.

"They've been working real hard. We need to get the five guys working together. That's paramount," Angelo said. "I feel we're going to have closure on that. We want to see this weekend how they're going to perform.

"We feel real good about seven, eight of them; but again, a work in progress. We still have a few weeks, so I'm going to reserve my judgment on them until they start playing together a couple of weeks."

The Bears don't have to trim to their final 53-man roster until Sept. 4, but there are questions about the number of receivers -- due, in part to the needs at the position in Martz's offense -- the club plans to carry into the regular season.

Angelo expects the Bears to keep five or six receivers. Defensively, Angelo said the Bears could carry anywhere between eight and 10 defensive linemen. Asked whether the club was looking to make more improvements to the roster in the coming days, Angelo said, "Right now, no."

"We're more interested in the development of the players we have here," he added. "We'll get more into the evaluation this week, but the players, we feel comfortable with what they're doing within the scheme, and the young guys are much more up to speed. So we're excited about this weekend."

Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.