The long and winding road has begun. The 2010 Harmon training camp tour began Saturday night with a stop in Bourbonnais to visit the Chicago Bears.
It’s a team that faces a lot of “what ifs?” as preparations get underway for the opener.
— What if Jay Cutler gets hurt?
— What if Julius Peppers can’t provide the big, consistent push up front?
— What if Brian Urlacher and Tommie Harris can’t stay healthy?
— What about the O-Line?
Do you need one more?
OK. Here it is. What if the Mike Martz offense isn’t digested properly by all of the skill position players?
On Saturday night, about 5,000 fans showed up to take a gander at this 2010 Bears squad. There were jerseys representing every era of Bears football – Butkus, Marty Booker, Urlacher, Cutler, McMahon, Payton …. McNown. Yeah. I saw a couple of Cade McNown jerseys in the mix.
Anyway, there were two notable absences in the evening practice. Olin Kreutz and the aforementioned Urlacher were not in pads on Saturday night after reportedly going through the morning workout. Lovie Smith addressed the issue in his post-practice comments, citing that it was an evening off and nothing related to previous injuries. That doesn’t stop the speculation, as these two players who will be watched closely in camp. Kreutz’s return is pivotal to getting the offensive line back on track following a difficult 2009 campaign that saw Matt Forte frequently hit behind the line.
With Julius Peppers upfront, Urlacher and the linebacking corps should be allowed to stay back in coverage and lessen the pressure on the defensive backs. Danieal Manning (audio to come) talked about the importance of having a player of Peppers’ caliber upfront to aid the secondary.
All eyes were on the dual-backfield of Forte and off-season acquisition, Chester Taylor. Forte looked leaner, meaner and hit the holes with authority. Taylor caught everything thrown his way and had a great burst. It’s early in camp, but it appears that the tailback position is set nicely — provided that the O-Line can deliver.
The receivers were laying themselves out as they tried to catch Mike Martz’s eye and garner a bigger role in the offense. Timing is still coming together in this frenzied attack, and there were some mis-fires, cut off routes and overthrows.
But, the weapons (Aromashodu, Hester, Knox, Bennett and Olsen) are there to make things interesting … IF