With Martellus Bennett back, 5 questions for Bears minicamp

SHARE With Martellus Bennett back, 5 questions for Bears minicamp

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is learning Adam Gase’s new offense. (AP)

The Orange Dinosaur did not go into extinction.

Rather, Martellus Bennett attended player physicals at Halas Hall on Monday and is expected to participate in Tuesday’s start of the Bears’ three-day mandatory minicamp.

He was the only player to not take part in the Bears’ voluntary program, staying home and desiring a richer contract. He is still scheduled to make a base salary of $4.9 million in 2015 and $5.085 million in 2016.

The Bears could have fined Bennett about $72,000 for missing the week’s activities.

With that issue seemingly answered, at least for now, here’s a look at five more questions entering Tuesday’s minicamp kickoff:

1. How is Jay Cutler adjusting?

ADAM L. JAHNS:A new offense isn’t just a transition for Cutler. Offensive coordinator Adam Gase is going from future Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning to a 10-year veteran, who has admittedly underwhelmed, especially based on his talent level. Gase said a challenge for Cutler was staying patient and not forcing things, which leads to turnovers. Through organized team activities, Cutler seemed to run more when things weren’t available against the Bears’ 3-4 defense.

PATRICK FINLEY: We’ll ask Cutler that after practice Tuesday, when he speaks to the media for the first time since late April. Anecdotally, he’s appeared comfortable during OTAs. his teammates — and Gase —said they like what they’ve seen. But the question has never been how he practices; it’s how he makes decisions on game day.

2. Will Kyle Long stick at tackle?

JAHNS:The Bears would like to have an idea of which five offensive linemen they can move forward with as their potential starters when training camp opens. That makes this minicamp the best time for Long to continue his work at right tackle and if others can handle right guard next to him.

FINLEY: I think the two-time Pro Bowler will move to tackle eventually, but whether that happens during the preseason might will depend more on the play of those around him — right tackle Jordan Mills and a plethora of right guard options, were he to move —than Long himself.

3. How well is Vic Fangio’s defense clicking?

JAHNS:Players have raved about Fangio’s instruction and approach during his installation of his 3-4 defense. Fangio’s scheme features old players in new places but some competitions won’t really get going until outside linebackers Lamarr Houston and Willie Young and inside linebacker Jon Bostic are healthy. There’s a learning curve for all players involved, but Fangio’s creativity is something to be excited about after Mel Tucker.

FINLEY: It’s been intriguing — and telling — to see how excited Jared Allen is by playing outside linebacker. If a future Hall of Famer can be comfortable with change, the other members of the Bears’ defense has no excuse but to be. Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee has been wowed by Fangio’s creativity. Given his experience in the Ravens’ stellar 3-4, that’s saying something.

4. Keep an eye on this veteran …

JAHNS: Bennett. Allen is switching positions. Alshon Jeffery has a new contract to earn. And Shea McClellin has the team’s confidence at inside linebacker. But Bennett’s decision to skip all voluntary work bothered the Bears. The gregarious tight end should have a lot to say.

FINLEY: Cornerback Tim Jennings. The first season of his four-year, $22 million deal was a dud, and the Bears have since brought in veteran corners Alan Ball and Tracy Porter for depth. Fox will have to figure out whether he’s a better fit in the slot; he’s already said the veteran’s body type fits the position.

5. Keep an eye on this rookie …

JAHNS:Receiver Kevin White. The first-round pick has been working with the second-team offense during OTAs.White should be on the receiving end of plenty of Cutler’s throws this season, but Gase and the Bears won’t just hand over those opportunities.

FINLEY: Nose tackle Eddie Goldman. Ray McDonald’s release rendered Goldman borderline essential; if he can lock down a starting position, Jeremiah Ratliff can slide to end. Jarvis Jenkins, who could start on the other side, is the only option with experience as a pro 3-4 end.

Follow me on Twitter @adamjahns


Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com

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