Chicago Sun-Times

Minicamp preview: Four thoughts before weekend workouts

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The first thing everybody has to remember is that it doesn't mean anything. It's unlikely that history will look back on a May minicamp as a springboard to the Super Bowl or a trapdoor to the kind of season that could get general manager Jerry Angelo and coach Lovie Smith fired.

It will be interesting, however, to see the new coaches and players acquired to resurrect the Bears on the field at the same time when a mandatory minicamp opens Friday morning with the first of two practices. Two-a-days continue Saturday before the full-team workouts end after a lone practice Sunday.

All workouts at Halas Hall are open to the media but not the public. Here are four thoughts heading into a weekend of football in May:

STEP INTO MY LABORATORY

Jay Cutler said all the right things about Mike Martz during a Tuesday radio interview. The Bears new offensive coordinator has openly gushed about Cutler's physical skills and mental prowess.

What form their relationship takes, however, remains to be seen.

It's the most important relationship in the Bears organization and one that will be highly scrutinized. The pair have been working together at Halas Hall of late, so it's not as if this will be the first time Cutler will be taking instruction from Martz, but it could be insightful nonetheless.

Martz has been working on the most basic mechanics and fundamentals and can be extremely demanding, as everybody knows. How will Cutler handle any criticism? This week's snapshot will be a pilot episode for what looks to be an entertaining, season-long drama.

THE BIG THREE BEARS

It will take seeing Julius Peppers in a Bears' uniform to drive home the point that he is a member of the team.

With the prized free agent, along with Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, the Bears will have three potential Hall of Famers in their defensive huddle.

But are there enough complimentary pieces for this defense to return to being one of the most dominant units in the league?

The focus will be on the Big Three, but whether Marcus Harrison is in shape could be a critical factor. The Bears need him to play as well at the beginning of this season as he played at the end of last season. How motivated and mobile Tommie Harris is and whether redshirt freshmen Henry Melton and Jarron Gilbert have made the most of their rookie seasons will be worth watching, as well.

REMEMBER HIM?

The last time we saw Brian Urlacher through his facemask was in a deflating season-opening loss to the Packers. That's when he sustained the wrist injury that knocked him out for the season.

Now he's back, and supposedly healthy for the first time since the Super Bowl season in 2006.

Everyone insists that he remains the team's unquestioned leader, and that's probably so, but much has changed since he made his last defensive play call.

Cutler has become the team's lightning rod. Is Peppers a leader or someone who needs to be led? Can Urlacher help coax a resurgent season out of Harris? If Urlacher remains the Bears' unquestioned leader, he should have a lot on his mind as these new and old defensive parts begin fitting together for the first time.

OLSEN QUESTIONS REMAIN VALID

Martz is already tiring of questions about how Greg Olsen fits into the offense, as legitimate as they may be.

Here's one that's more pertinent: Can Olsen be a dominant tight end in any system? The jury is still out.

Martz could make him the focal point of the offense and it still won't help him break a tackle or stand up a defensive end. Olsen is entering his fourth full season and has a lot to prove not only as a pass catcher but as a blocker because Martz has made it clear that he must succeed with his hand on the ground before he will get his hands on the ball.

As for Martz, he can talk about how his offense is flexible enough to accommodate Olsen, but his track record doesn't support that claim. Olsen's role remains an issue until proven otherwise.

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7 Comments

Olsen is entering his third full season? I thought he was drafted in 2007, played in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Looks like it's his fourth full season. That is of course unless you don't count his rookie season as a full season??

Wait, when did Marcus Harrison play well? Last I checked the defense gave up 54 points in its last two games and was rated in the bottom five DT's in the nfl. I saw a picture of Harrison at mini camp standing next to hot Rod, if that dude is 315 pounds then Rod Marinelli is an Oompa Loompa. "What do you get when your DT is FAT?"

Could someone please give AA the starting job already.

By the way Urlacher is healthy for the first time sense 2006? They said the exact same thing about him last year. Did the Bears discover the cure for Arthritis? Cause he does have an Arthritic back, which has been the major problem for him. What Brian does well is defend the pass he is still really good in coverage, he is just really bad against the run and rushing the QB now days. But hey he is a year older and that always helps. Urlacher peaked from 2002-2006 and has been gowing down hill a little bit every year sense then. He is 32 now and has about 2 seasons maybe 3 left in him. 3 years sense his last pro bowl, he will never be playing at his 2005 form again.

I got 4 thoughts for offense, actually 5.
1. Jay Cutler, don't try to do it all and don;t force the ball. If he does that he is set.

2. Chris Williams, get stronger overall, and develop a hand puch. He is samrt and athletic with a great kick slide, but has no hand punch. Linemen in the nfl tend to do real well when they have or develop a hand punch. So get stronger and develop that hand punch.

3. Let Shaffer have a fare shot at RT.

4. Let DA have a fare shot at the number 1 reciever role.

5. Matt Forte, get in the shape he was in his rookie year. Dude went from being shredded and having decent speed to being tone with below average speed.

Creighton,

I've got some thoughts too..

1. Does anybody have a rabbits foot?
2. Will we ever see an offensive line?
3. Can the offensive line protect Cutler this year?
4. Can the offensive line open up holes for any running back?
5. Will the real DT stand up?
6. Where is Mike Brown? Where is his replacement?
7. What? Same-ole, same-ole pass rush?
8. Cover-2? When will he learn that model-Ts won't work?
9. Alright O-line, wideouts, RBs, and Cutler..you better be ready on sept. 1st....or else.
10. Alright D-line, you better do better than last year or we are /&^%#
11. Lovie? Have you decided what you are going to do when you retire?
12. Diddo to Angelo
13. Diddo to Phillips

Neil:

In my opinion, you missed the biggest glaring "thought." And that being: 'How long into the season is it going to take before Angelo's failure to, once again, address the OL comes back to bite the Bear's in the backside.' Martz's offense means nothing and it doesn't matter if Greg Olsen is standing in the middle of the field 25 yards past the line of scrimmage with no defender within 5 yards of him if Cutler is on his back. And the interior of this line is mediocre at best.
A few days ago someone on here said that Beekman was better than Olin. Someone else said he was nuts. Well, he can't be any worse than Kreutz. Garza is old, and there really isn't anyone with experience in the waiting.
As much as I would like to see Atogwe with the Bears, I am less worried about the defense as I am the OL.

Creighton, I read your post's regularly here and on other blogs, and although I don't always agree, I respect your opinion's. That being said, as much as I hate to be the "spelling police" it drives me crazy when adults continually misspell words. "Sense" ? I believe you mean "since". "Fare" is what you pay a taxi driver, try "fair". Perhaps people would take you more seriously if you didn't spell like a 5th grader.

Some fans said it, I will echo the sentiment. Angelo is waiting to sift the scrap heap in late June and early july to fix the O-Line but it won't matter Kreutz (fading fast) Garza (weak at P.O.A.) and no left guard, there is only one position in place Williams his second year of being a starter first at LT but all the media question is how Cutler and Martz will get along or article after article about a TE who can block or run after the catch. This is the type of crap that keep a major market team stuck in the mud of mediocrity. The deal for a QB with no line or recievers, they hire a OC with a offense that predicates on speed and a defense in the same mold and keep the ragged green mud slop at Soldier Field so that the team they built is the complete opposite of the home field (no advantage there). This organization since Lovie and Angelo has been a football oxymoron. I am a real true orange and blue fan and I am fed up with this regime of complete idiots.

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This page contains a single entry by Neil Hayes published on May 19, 2010 11:13 AM.

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