Chicago Sun-Times

Bears must sort out receivers, but really need to run the ball

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The Bears figure to get a final evaluation tonight of the wide receivers and how the position will stack up, at least to start the season.

Brandon Llloyd figures to have an edge for a starting job now after his strong performance last week with Kyle Orton. The team is going to have to whittle down the position and make a decision if five or six wide receivers are kept on the 53-man roster. Mike Hass was on the team all last season but dressed only for the Philadelphia game. There could be more pressing needs elsewhere, especially on the lines. The Bears also like to stock Dave Toub's special teams with reserve linebackers and defensive backs.

It's not a given yet that veteran Marty Booker makes the team in his return to the Bears. Booker has been quiet in the preseason and didn't fill training camp with highlights. Still, he's a player who shows up on Sundays and you can't say that about many of the others in the bunch. Rookie Earl Bennett's strong camp showing has disappeared in preseason. His hands have not been reliable. Mark Bradley has been the antithesis of reliable in his first three seasons. Devin Hester has a spot locked up as does Rashied Davis. It will sort itself out soon enough.

But the receiver situation has to take a back seat tonight to the running game. The team that gets off the bus running must establish some rhythm on the ground tonight for the sake of rookie Matt Forte and the line alike. As successful as the offense was running the ball against Kansas City in the first preseason game--175 yards on 29 rushes--most of that came against Chiefs' reserves. Forte had 25 yards on seven carries.

The running football team must establish the run.

A few other things to watch for:

1. Defensive tackle rotation. Dusty Dvoracek gets into the mix for the first time after a pulled calf muscle sidelined him for the first two-plus weeks of training camp. Israel Idonije made a real impact at Seattle but will get a look outside at end. Rookie Marcus Harrison has flashed signs of ability to contribute immediately and Anthony Adams has been solid. Matt Toeania is in the mix as well and it will be worth watching how the players are used and in what combinations.

2. Backup linebacker. Nick Roach will sit out with a concussion. This is where the Bears build their special teams. Does Mike Okwo, a third-round pick last year, have a chance to state his case for a job? The backups aren't going to get a lot of time but they have to shine when they are in there. Right now, Jamar Williams, Darrell McClover and Rod Wilson figure to be pretty secure. Roach has done well for himself also. It might be a stretch for the Bears to keep eight linebackers which is the number they would need to hit to keep Okwo also.

3. First team. Hate to harp on the offense over and over again but with at least a half of football tonight, and likely time into the third quarter, the first team needs to produce some points. Touchdowns.

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All of those issues Brad mentioned are worth watching, but what it really comes down to is if Ron Turner, Kyle Orton, the offensive line and the WR's can establish any continuity in the passing game. Until the team can prove it can and will throw the ball downfield, teams will continue to stack eight-nine defenders in the box and overpower our running game. I know it's only preseason, but now is the time to get Kyle and the wideouts going. Ron Turner needs to also get the tight ends more involved as they will be very important come Game 1. It would be very nice to see maybe a few different offensive packages/wrinkles, which the offense rarely incorporates. What do they have to lose. Everyone, including myself, thinks this will be a bottom-5 offense; this is the time to try and change that.

What's the story with Marcus Monk?

I had high hopes for him but haven't heard a word about him. Big kid, supposed to have good hands and some speed.

What's the word?

Brad those are good questions, and I know it's old news, but there are sure a lot of intriguing story lines dangling from Seattle. The more I think about it, the more it bugs me.

Just what the heck was going on? Is there some bad blood between the teams? It looked like the Hawks were working from a defensive game plan for the playoffs, not the preseason. They had play after play of alternating zone blitzes and stuff. Teams don't usually want that stuff on film before the regular season. And then their top quarterbacks and a couple other key players sit completely out with "could of played" injuries. It was like they didn't want to throw their good guys into a preseason grudge game. Then Lovie figures it out at halftime that these guys want blood and parks Orton?

Or maybe it's not bad blood, maybe Lovie picks up the phone and says to Mikey, "hey man I gotta find out where we are on O-line. How bout throwing them a few curves? Pin back your ears, it's not like we are going with Grossman anyway." And Mikey says "hey that's a good idea, I need to give my D a shot of confidence." "How bout you guys play pretty vanilla? I gotta decide about Charlie and don't want him killed before we see whay he's got."

Just a couple thoughts. Either way I cannot believe that was just a "straight" preseason game. It was too weird.

Seedy - Marcus Monk has been bad and will be cut. After the draft it seemed promising but turns out he can't play.

Is it a dumb question to ask why no one has considered moving Greg Olson to WR and having Kellen Davis and Clark be the TE's (with Olson filling in as needed)? Though not the speediest target he'd be a big one and arguably a good (or better) possession receiver. I understand his blocking is not that great and God knows we need receivers!

How about trading Ricky manning for a o lineman?

I think this game will be Ricky Manning's audition for another team. They are going to have to move him, especially since he is now 4th or 5th on the depth chart at CB (making $3M per year). he is a talented player, and could be a starting nickel back for a lot of teams, and could be a starting corner on teams with secondary issues. Can we get a guard for him? That would be nice, but I would settle for a 4th or 5th round pick in the 2009 draft.

Here's to hoping...

Eric, I don't think they'd ever move Greg Olsen to WR, but it looks like they might start using him like the Colts use Dallas Clark, moving him to the slot from time to time.

how about trying to use mike hass for a change

The recievers will sort themselves out but Booker could be on the outs, Monk is a goner, Bennett probably practice squad, Rideau 50/50, Haas special teams could save him, Bradley looked a step slow to me and last week Lloyd made it. Now it's time for Angelo to clean the slate and get rid of the sulking Grossman wait for the final cuts and get a solid journeyman Qb for the 3rd string.

Just wait until Mike Haas gets a chance. He never drops a pass and will go up and get anything thrown to him. He's not the biggest or the fastest, but does all that really matter if you can't catch the ball. Just ask Derek Anderson, QB with Cleveland, Mike saved Derek many times at Oregon State. Hopefully the coaching staff will over look his lack of speed and give him a chance.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on August 21, 2008 9:57 AM.

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