Exhibition opener first real test for Bears' youngsters

Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by short faced bear, Aug 4, 2013.

  1. short faced bear

    short faced bear Assistant Head Coach DBS Writer

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    It's nice to shine in practice, but doing it in game situations crucial

    Matt Bowen
    Scouting the Bears

    7:05 p.m. CDT, August 4, 2013

    Looking at my notebook from a practice session last week in Bourbonnais, I had wide receiver Joe Anderson's name circled with my take on his speed, route-running ability and change-of-direction skills scribbled down all along the margins.

    I was impressed with the young receiver. Watching Anderson work during individual period, 7-on-7 and during the 11-on-11 drills, I had the feeling he could make this Bears team if he stayed healthy and showed the consistency of a pro wideout on a daily basis.

    But the real test for Anderson — and for plenty of young players fighting for a spot on Marc Trestman's roster — will start Friday night in Charlotte when the Bears play the Panthers in the exhibition opener.

    Sure, what you do on the practice field during training camp is a part of the evaluation process. You need to show the coaching staff that you can handle the playbook install as a young player, win some matchups in 1-on-1 periods, correct mistakes and improve your technique as the calendar rolls on.

    And when a bubble player can generate some buzz — as Anderson has — then we all take notice.

    However, making some plays in blitz period (with no tackling) on the practice fields isn't the same as doing it versus the live competition of the NFL preseason schedule.

    The speed is going to increase, game situations become a priority and your conditioning level is tested during a long drive in the summer heat. There is no practice script and the coaching staff won't be on the field to correct your technique after every rep while they are standing 5 yards behind the huddle.

    You are now on your own to make the plays.

    Look at cornerback Isaiah Frey. The second-year man spent the 2012 season on the Bears' practice squad, but he has turned some heads at camp with his ability to get his hands on the football. Anyone who has watched practice can see the improvements Frey has made from a physical standpoint, and his technique is noticeably better.

    With the hamstring injury to veteran nickel back Kelvin Hayden, the opportunity is there for Frey to see more reps during practice. That's exactly what you want as a young player looking to get in the mix.

    However, Frey has to carry that over to the exhibition games on defense and by producing on the four core special teams units (punt, punt return, kickoff, kickoff return).

    Along with Anderson on the offensive side of the ball, the athletic ability of Fendi Onobun has been talked about since OTAs and minicamp. A tight end with a basketball background, Onobun has flexibility in his hips and could be another target for quarterback Jay Cutler this season.

    But once the ball is kicked off on Friday night — and throughout the preseason schedule — he has to show the ability to block in the run game, beat a defender on the release and display some open-field skills after the catch.

    The same can be said for rookie wide receiver Marquess Wilson. The seventh-round pick has made some plays during practice, but he won't see defensive backs pulling up to avoid collisions against the Panthers' second- and third-team defensive units.

    And don't forget about Brandon Hardin. The former third-round pick missed the entire 2012 season with an injury and is involved in a crowded competition for a backup role in the secondary.

    Can Hardin make impact plays at the safety position and also show up in the kicking game? He needs some good film to prove to the coaches he belongs on this roster.

    The Bears have scaled back the hitting in Trestman's camp and there are no live situations such as goal line or short yardage, nor has the team scrimmaged to date.

    But that's about to change.

    Getting it done on the practice field is the first step, but if you want to make the club in the NFL, then you need to stand out when the film is rolling in the preseason.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/columnists/ct-spt-0805-bears-bowen-20130805,0,5490072.column
  2. Grizzblue

    Grizzblue Pro-Bowler

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    I'm for once excited for a PS opener. My players to watch will be..

    Long
    Bostic
    Anderson
    Brown
    Shea
    Frey
    Wilson
    Webb

    In that order. These guys will be intresting to see either what we have or how they have evolved and improved as a player. All names that could potentially be a darkhorse to make big plays on Sunday and effect games come September.

    Side note: how frickin nice is it to actually be talking real football and not the monotonous, long offseason speculation and mindless bickering to pass the time;)
  3. shark86x

    shark86x Pro-Bowler SuperFan

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    Good list, all of them (except one) can be dynamic playmakers for this team. Then there is the one I'll be watching to see if he is going to get cut. I don't think I need need to mention that name here. :eek:

    I'm adding two: Alshon, and the unicorn. I can't wait to see the new beast mode from AJ, and how nice it is to have a TE that can not only catch the ball, but have some strength to go with it.
  4. Papa_Bear_7

    Papa_Bear_7 Veteran

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    Has anyone heard anything about how Garza has looked? I haven't heard much of anything about him. And not much more about Edwin Williams or Tyler Boggs competing for his backup. About all I recall seeing recently is that Boggs is really pushing Williams for the backup spot.
  5. shark86x

    shark86x Pro-Bowler SuperFan

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    No, I haven't heard anything. I'm hoping that's good news (or at least not bad)?!?!?!???? But I've also heard Boggs is doing well as a backup. Williams is no good, Boggs should beat him out for #2. I don't believe the center of the future is on our roster now. We'll have to wait 'til next year for that position to get proper attention.
  6. shark86x

    shark86x Pro-Bowler SuperFan

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    Oh and #4 Lonergan? He's not getting any reps at all at Center. I've only seen him at guard.
  7. Grizzblue

    Grizzblue Pro-Bowler

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    Wilson isn't getting cut. I don't expect him to be a playmaker out there this year but cutting him would be a bit absurd. He was 2-3 rd talent and we got him with one of the last picks in the draft due to a behavior incident. Only way he gets cut is if he acted up in a big way, showing that this is how he is and what happened in college wasn't a one time incident. Only way we lose him is trying to put him on the PS and another team snagging him on waivers, or at some point in the reg season. I don't see this happening as it could really be a bad move in the long run. I would look for him to get a magic injury right before the 53 man cut if he can't help anywhere this year.
  8. shark86x

    shark86x Pro-Bowler SuperFan

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    Sorry, Griz, I was trying to be funny and it didn't work. I was referring to that guy from Webb Nation.
  9. Grizzblue

    Grizzblue Pro-Bowler

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    Ah, my fault I stand corrected.
  10. weneedmorelinemen

    weneedmorelinemen Veteran

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    I've read they have been using Slauson as the #2 center sometimes to see how he looks. Could be a possible move to center next year for Slauson.
  11. Grizzblue

    Grizzblue Pro-Bowler

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    Or this year if Garza severely struggles and both Long and Brown have success at guard.
  12. weneedmorelinemen

    weneedmorelinemen Veteran

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    Slauson has only played guard and tackle in college, and only LG for the Jets. I'd rather we not move him in 2013 except in an emergency. I figure that's what they are doing trying him there now is because Long is going to eventually move to LG next year.

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