Postcard from camp: Bears
For most of this decade, the Bears have trained at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Ill., about an hour south of Chicago and not far from Kankakee. One of my brothers is a long-time Chicago resident and Bears fan, and he informed me earlier this month that for the few weeks camp is in swing, Bourbonnais is re-christened "Bearnaise,'' which I think is kind of clever. This year, however, the only name that fits is Cutler-ville, because at Bears camp 2009, everything revolves around new Chicago quarterback
"It was harder for [Turner] to do that in the past because we were limited by some things we couldn't do,'' Bears general manager
Cutler and Olsen have almost a telepathic connection already, and they look so in sync -- both on and off the field, I'm told -- that when one of them itches, the other one feels it too. I saw Cutler throw maybe six or so passes in Olsen's direction during the Bears practice I witnessed, and every one seemed to hit the big guy between the 8 and the 2 on his jersey. I not only expect Olsen -- a receiver trapped in a tight end's body -- to lead the Bears in catches this season, but also he coud easily top 80 receptions.
With the Bears receiving corps lacking that true No. 1 threat, Cutler is going to look for Olsen early and often, and I think the third-year pro will be the first guy opposing defenses try to take away. Look for Chicago to creatively move Olsen around, even lining him up wide or in the backfield in search of the best possible matchups.
The Bears starting defensive ends,
The hope this year is built around the belief that defensive tackle
With no first-round pick thanks to the Cutler trade, the Bears rookie spotlight isn't trained on any one player. But I made sure I watched third-round defensive tackle
Angelo told me while Gilbert has plenty to learn about how to play the defensive line in this league, the "arrow is pointing up,'' and Gilbert is finding his way into the Bears backfield fairly often so far. As for the pool stunt, one of Chicago's PR guys told me that Gilbert said he still gets asked about it in interviews more than any other topic by far.
If veteran offensive left tackle
By far the strangest moment of my entire 10-stop camp tour occurred while I was in Bourbonnais, at an afternoon Bears practice. I was scheduled to get a little time with Angelo at some point during the practice, but instead of him coming over to me on the sideline, where I was watching Cutler and Co. go through their paces along with the rest of the media, Angelo, who I've known since 1990, when I was covering the Bucs, waved for me to come to him. So I did, joining him on the field, just a few yards behind the line of scrimmage as the Bears went through 11-on-11 team drills.
After every play, without interrupting a question or an answer, Angelo would lightly grab my arm and lead me up the field to a new spot just behind the line of scrimmage, where we would continue our talk about the '09 Bears. It felt a bit like being behind enemy lines out there on the field, and I thought I saw the occasional player or two shoot me a "what's-he-doing-here?'' look when they saw me standing just off Angelo's left shoulder. If I've ever conducted an on-field interview in the midst of a live practice before, I really don't remember when. All at the same time, it was both kind of cool and more than a little uncomfortable.
• The Bears reportedly made an attempt to sign
• I still don't know how middle linebacker
• If he can stay healthy -- something that has proven difficult so far in his nascent NFL career -- second-year cornerback
• I wouldn't want to be a Bears beat writer these days and have to learn how to flawlessly spell the names of