Here’s what’s simmering this summer for the Bears
BY ADAM L. JAHNS email@example.com June 15, 2013 12:00AM
Minnesota Vikings v Chicago Bears
Updated: July 17, 2013 7:08AM
With organized team activities over and mandatory minicamp complete, the Bears have scattered, but they now have what should be a full understanding of the Marc Trestman way.
‘‘We think we’re a strong, more explosive football team going into this offseason,’’ the first-year Bears coach said. ‘‘We’ll see where that takes us here as we get into camp.’’
With the Bears going on break before training camp opens in late July, here are some topics to consider over the next few weeks:
Getting a long-term deal done with defensive tackle Henry Melton is the most significant off-the-field matter. Melton signed his fran-chise-tag tender of $8.45 million, but general manager Phil Emery said long ago that they would continue to work toward a multi-year agreement.
Melton, a Pro Bowler, wants to remain in Chicago.
‘‘You know, I love it here,’’ he said. ‘‘I love the city. Hopefully, we can get something long-term hammered out soon. But if not, I’m just going to play.’’
There’s a July 15 deadline. Is Melton optimistic it can happen by then?
‘‘Yeah, anything can happen,’’ he said.
The two LBs
Rookie linebackers Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene have been inseparable during the offseason training. They’re learning all three linebacker spots, but Bostic is focusing on the middle and Greene the weak side.
‘‘They’re growing at leaps and bounds, and we’re throwing so much at them,’’ defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said.
Bostic has gone over plenty of film of Brian Urlacher.
‘‘It’s a new defense for me,’’ he said. ‘‘So learning to run this cover-2 and learn how he played it and how he disguised certain things, it’s all been a big help.’’
One of fiercest competitions at training camp should be at wide receiver. Joe Anderson and Terrence Toliver have gotten more snaps with quarterback Jay Cutler while starters Brandon Marshall (hip surgery in January) and Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) have been sidelined.
‘‘We turned it into a positive,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘We got a great look at some of the young guys. . . . It was good for them to get the reps and get the reps against our top players on defense.’’
Behind starters Chris Conte and Major Wright, the competition for roster spots at safety also should be contentious.
Brandon Hardin has looked good this offseason. He, Craig Steltz and Anthony Walters appear to be holding off all others, including locals Tom Zbikowski and Tom Nelson.
Changes up front
The Bears’ offensive line has undergone major changes personnel-wise and scheme-wise. Center Roberto Garza described it as a ‘‘totally different offense [with] totally different techniques.’’ It’s an inside-out protection scheme under offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer.
‘‘[It’s] different footwork, hand placement, some of the ways our combination blocks are being done differently, targets and things like that,’’ Garza said.
Marc & Jay
Trestman is doing everything he can to get to Cutler and get the best from him. He has used a verbal clock to speed up his reads and release and brought in some of his former quarterbacks, notably Rich Gannon, to speak to him, Josh McCown and Matt Blanchard.
That ingenuity should continue in training camp.
‘‘He’s open to whatever we’re asking him to do,’’ quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh said.
The Bears see plenty of upside in tight end Fendi Onobun, who is 6-6, 260 pounds. He is bigger and faster than recently cut H-back Evan Rodriguez.
◆ Tony Fiammetta not only gives the Bears a prototypical fullback and a more experienced ball carrier, but he adds more to special teams, too.
◆ A league rule prevented first-round pick Kyle Long from participating in OTAs and minicamp, but he can use the team facilities now. He arrived in Chicago last week and will take part in the NFL’s rookie development program.
◆ Trestman said his training camp will be very similar to the fast-moving, frenzied pace of OTAs and minicamp. ‘‘They are marathon practices,’’ he said.