Chicago Sun-Times

0 days to Camp: Are you ready for some football?

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BOURBONNAIS, Ill.--The countdown has ended.

The most anticipated training camp in the nine years we've been on the beat (that doesn't say a lot, but there is far more buzz now than in 2007 after the Super Bowl) has finally arrived. Let's jump into a couple of issues real quick. I'll be Tweeting throughout the day, follow me at BradBiggs, and expect some blog updates here and there. Remember, you can also find the Twitter feed on the right hand side of the blog.

Issue 1: Devin Hester wants Jay Cutler to get in his face and get on players.

"We want that,'' Hester said. "That's what we need. At the end of the day, it's not about the coaches, it's about the players. And whenever you get a guy like that that steps up as far as Olin Kreutz, Jay Cutler, Brian Urlacher, those types of guys--they're the ones that need to be coaching. They're the key guys and that's who the players are going to look up to and we're going to listen to them. At the end of the day we're out there playing with them. You can't hear the coaches on the field [during games], so when those guys step up and get on a player, it really helps our team and that's what bonds the players and brings us to a family, a unit. Whenever you get a quarterback like Jay, when he gets in his groove and then when he starts speaking up and feels a little more confident, that's when our offense is going to start clicking.''

Our spin: Makes sense. Cutler is going to be a take charge quarterback and this is a young and inexperienced wide receiving corps that needs the quarterback to grab it by the horns from time to time. It's good to hear Hester saying this.

Issue 2: Matt Forte should face fewer eight-man fronts.

"It's a big thing but if they decide to do that still we can pass,'' Forte said. ``Pick your poison.''

Our spin: Forte had a terrific rookie season when set the franchise's single-season rushing record with 1,238 yards and scored eight touchdowns. He also had a team-high 63 receptions joining Edgerrin James as the only rookies in league history with 1,000 yards rushing and 60 catches. Forte still averaged 3.9 yards per carry, though, and that's more like Cedric Benson production. With more running lanes, he should go over four yards per carry this season and to be an elite back he has to top 4.0 and go a little further.

Quick hits: Lovie Smith said rookie safety Al Afalava is one player he is excited to watch. Afalava missed most of the offseason program because of rules for schools (Oregon State) that use the quarter system. It will be interesting to see how instinctive Afalava is because there is no question he can hit. Punter Richmond McGee will join the Bears in camp today and likely sign a contract as the 80th player on the roster. Keep an eye on projected swing tackle Kevin Shaffer. If he's the Bears' No. 3 tackle, they'll be better than most teams in the league at that position.

Going to join Sun-Times colleagues Mike Mulligan and Brian Hanley on 670-AM at 6 a.m. Tune in or follow in the Internet right here.

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8 Comments

I am really excited this year. By far this team is one of the better teams all around, not just on one side, that has been assembled in years. I am still loathe to think that our team is going to be the team to beat though. Yeah we have new pieces in the OL but can they open up lanes for Forte/Jones? And the D is a question mark as is the WR corps.
All signs point to up but I guess we will have to wait and see. Hope the wait is worth it. And Brad, great great coverage. Awesome job. Keep it up.

Matt Forte facing fewer eight-man fronts should be key for Chicago's offense. With Cutler on board now, Forte could be primed to have a pretty good season, maybe somewhere in the 1200-1400 range yardage wise. If teams come up to play the run, Cutlers the type of quarterback that could make them pay over the top, like Forte said, "pick your poison."

Al Afalava certainly is an intriguing prospect. Last season at Oregon st he had 7 passes broken up to go along with 2 int and a pick 6. The scouting report on Afalava say's "he's an instinctive defender who reads the QB's eye's well and breaks on the ball." If so, he could be a good one to have. I agree he's one worth keeping an eye on.

As far as what Hester said, Jay Cutler needs to come in from day one and take over this team [on the offensive side of the ball] no questions asked. We all know ol #54 runs the defense, no questions asked. I wouldn't worry about the Cutler vs Urlacher thing. Right now to Urlacher Cutler might be a 9u$$y, but let Cutler have a couple 300-400 yard games and he'll be a mangina, and once the seasons done and Cutler tops the 4000 yard mark, he'll be just another Bear to Urlacher, a di*k. Can't wait for the opener GO #54!! GO #6!! and GO BEARS!!

Yeah baby! Bears football is IN SESSION

I believe the combo of Forte and Jones will be very good when teams have to play honest they are vulernable, wouldn't be surprised if Alfalava plays a lot in this secondary and a surprise cut comes because of it. I also believe Jamar Williams will get more chances to get on the field this season, they will wake up and find out Gilbert should be groomed at DE not DT and if Harrison is stronger at POA don't worry about his weight, finally Garza is exposed as the weak link and is replaced by a mauler with attitude. Excuse me time for a refill on my orange and navy kool-aid. GO BEARS!!!!

gotta love the confidence of a 23 year old running back who tells the league to "pick your poison"

Nothing about Matt Forte even vaguely resembles Cedric Benson. Cedric Benson would still be on the roster if he ran for 1200 yards at 3.9 YPC. He'd also still be on the roster if he knew the plays, practiced hard, made nice with the rest of the team, and stayed off the police blotter like Forte. Frankly, Cedric Benson wasn't even as good as Curtis Enis. Enis ran for 900 yards with much less talent around him after coming off a torn ACL. I understand that we want a better rushing average from Forte. That's fine. But Cedric Benson was utterly useless in all facets of the game. That's why he's been banished to Cincinnati. Please do not ever again compare Forte's talent to Benson's.

We are watching down here at Vandy.

Vandy's Head Coach Johnson is visiting Camp today

Godspeed Cutler and Bears!

I've been ready all summer, or at least since the Bears got Cutler. This year's Bear team should be a contender from day one. Let's just hope key injuries do not derail the Bear locomotive on its way to the Super Bowl.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on July 31, 2009 5:00 AM.

Bear tracks: Recapping a busy first day at training camp was the previous entry in this blog.

Bears make first cut of training camp; LaRocque released is the next entry in this blog.

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