With Bears players reporting to Bourbonnais on Wednesday, here are five things I know I want to watch in training camp:
1. I just want to see wide receiver Kevin White play: I want to see him run quick slants, go routes and more. I want to see him take on veteran cornerback Tracy Porter’s jam and beat it. I want to see him line up safety Adrian Amos for a block in the open field. I want to see him take quick screens for big gains. I want to see if he can beat cornerback Kyle Fuller on a jump ball. And I want to see him get tackled and get up. White, the seventh overall pick from a year ago, is the great unknown after missing all of last season because of a stress fracture in his left shin. He is the must-see star of this year’s camp.
2. Will Brian Hoyer be better than Jimmy Clausen? Last year, Clausen’s failures stood out at camp for their frequency. Every day was seemingly defined by incompletions and interceptions. But with David Fales out with an illness, Clausen held on and went into the season as the backup. This year, I want to see if Fales can push Hoyer. The Bears like Hoyer but they also valued Fales enough to protect him when the Ravens attempted to sign him off the practice squad last season.
3. The development of Year 2 defensive starters: The Bears view defensive tackle Eddie Goldman and safety Adrian Amos as the young linchpins of their remodeled defense. Expectations are high for both players after showing plenty as rookie starters last season. The Bears want Goldman to play at 325 pounds after weighing 340 last season. Will he be in good shape when he reports? The Bears want Amos to make more big plays after he failed to make an interception in 16 starts last season. To be fair, Amos was dealing with a bothersome right shoulder at times and was in his first season at safety after playing multiple roles at Penn State. But the Bears still will be looking for pass breakups and interceptions at camp from him.
4. Left tackle Charles Leno Jr. vs. everyone: I don’t think he’s the question mark others make him out to be. Last year was his first as a starter, and he’s a seventh-round pick. He had good moments last year despite being in a new offense and facing capable pass rushers (i.e. Aldon Smith, Ziggy Ansah, Tamba Hali). But Leno’s development is essential. He begins camp as the unquestioned starter at left tackle. It’s important that he not only holds his own against Willie Young, Leonard Floyd, Lamarr Houston and others, but that he buries them at times.
5. Cornerback Kyle Fuller vs. everyone: Fuller’s play last season was encouraging and discouraging. As a result, Fuller, a first-round pick in 2014, still has to prove that he is a long-term piece for the Bears. He should be tested often at camp. White is healthy, and receiver Alshon Jeffery is motivated to get a massive payday. Fuller should also start looking over his shoulder after the Bears drafted cornerback Deiondre’ Hall in the fourth round.