Chicago Bears: Recapping the Latest Buzz Heading into Training Camp
It's been a long wait, but finally the end is near. Training camp is on the horizon for the Chicago Bears, and the buzz surrounding this team is loud and exciting.
There have been plenty of storylines and changes to the roster all summer, but what's the latest news going into camp?
Here's the latest buzz surrounding the Bears as they prepare to head to Bourbonnais, Illinois.
Pat O'Donnell Is Not a Shoo-in at Punter
Usually when a team drafts a punter, he's the guy going forward. Sixth-round pick Pat O'Donnell may still be the guy, but he's going to have to earn it.
According to Larry Mayer at ChicagoBears.com, O'Donnell will have to beat out first-year pro Tress Way.
Way has looked good in offseason workouts and has caught the eye of special teams coach Joe DeCamillis.
O'Donnell averaged a school-record 47.1-yard gross at the University of Miami last year. Oklahoma product Way averaged 38.2 yards during his time with the Bears last preseason.
Marc Trestman Is the NFL's Phil Jackson?
Head coach Marc Trestman's journey is long and distinguished. His history before getting a head coaching job in the NFL, coupled with his cerebral mind, has drawn comparisons to legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson.
Syracuse offensive coordinator George McDonald got to spend some time with the Bears back in May. He came away from his visit with the team with some high praise for Trestman.
McDonald said, per Nate Mink of Syracuse.com:
For a loose term he's kind of the Phil Jackson of the NFL in terms of how he sees the game from a different picture other than just football and Xs and Os. I've always been intrigued by him. I've heard a lot of great things."I think he sees the game from a different perspective. He's really good with dealing with players and communicating his vision.
Trestman has done wonders with the offense in only one season, but it remains to be seen whether he can get the whole team on board and back into the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
Don't Be Concerned with Who Starts at Linebacker
Anybody caught up with who the three starting linebackers will be once the season starts should probably let that go, because it really doesn't matter.
Lance Briggs, D.J. Williams, Jon Bostic and Shea McClellin will all see significant time on the field depending on the situation.
Adam Jahns from the Chicago Sun-Times brought up some very accurate scenarios.
Briggs will be entrenched at his usual spot, but Bostic will see time with Williams on short-yardage and first-down scenarios. Bostic will see a lot of time in the nickel package, with Williams in the base, while McClellin will be in on blitzing and pass-rushing situations.
This means Briggs will be the leader in snaps, but the other three will see a substantial amount of time on the field.
Bears Have No Clue Who Their Return Man Is
When camp starts, it will be a wide open competition to see who replaces Devin Hester as the team's primary return man.
Eric Weems, Michael Ford, Chris Williams, Micheal Spurlock and Armanti Edwards are the players battling for the spot.
“We have a lot of experience back there,” said special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis, per the team's official website. “There’s a lot of talent and that’s really what you want when you’re evaluating.”
Initially, it looks like Weems and Williams have the upper hand. Weems had some success in the same role with the Atlanta Falcons, and Williams was a record-breaking return man in the CFL.
Jay Cutler Has Made "Incredible Progress"
Jay Cutler was on his way to an impressive first season in Marc Trestman's offense before he got hurt. Cutler still managed to finish with a career-best 89.2 passer rating to go along with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
With a new contract and no Josh McCown, Cutler will be looked upon to take an even bigger leap this season.
Quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh has been impressed with what he's seen from Cutler so far. He told Chris Boden of CSNChicago.com:
I've seen incredible progress. To his credit, he’s taken every suggestion we’ve given and he’s embraced it. From how he holds the ball to how he lines up in the`Gun’ pre-snap to how he drops back, to his throwing base to his follow-through. Every little fundamental we’ve talked to him about, he’s embraced, and it’s like night and day.
All eyes will be on Cutler as we wait to see if his offseason progress will translate to training camp and the regular season.
Brandon Marshall Looks to Continue His "Inspirational" Comeback
It certainly has been the summer of Brandon Marshall. Since signing his new deal, the All-Pro receiver has been very vocal about his life transformation and his excitement for playing with the Bears.
Marshall has had a well-documented checkered past, but he's been a changed man since joining the Bears.
In ESPN The Magazine's Comeback Issue, he talked about his growth as a person and where he's at now mentally:
When you look at where I’m at today, there’s no comparison. It’s night and day. It’s a 180-degree turn. Last year I grew spiritually, and that was the first time I was able to step outside myself on this spiritual journey and be able to say, 'You know what, I don’t know what’s gonna happen. But I’m gonna serve Alshon Jeffery. I’m gonna serve Martellus Bennett.' Because I know there’s something bigger. I’m a part of something greater. I can’t wait to see what it is. But I know if I just continue to pour into those young men’s lives, we will be great together.
When asked by ESPNChicago.com's Michael C. Wright during the interview, "How would you describe your comeback?" Marshall said, "inspirational."