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Some Bears Need Bigger Camps

Analysis: After offseason worked ended, it's apparent several Bears will need to deliver with strong performances in training camp and one of those is Justin Fields simply because he's in a new offense for the first time.

It's safe to say all of the Bears need to have a big training camp when they return Aug. 26 to Halas Hall.

If offseason media analysis is to be believed, it's rather pointless but they'll open camp just the same.

Some players need the big camp more than others, however.

Members of the offensive line, wide receivers and, of course, Justin Fields will fall into this category while several others have individual reasons for needing this.

Here are those players who need it the most.

8. DT Angelo Blackson. The Bears went out and signed interior defensive lineman Mike Pennel just before minicamp and then had him on the field with starters at the nose. Blackson is not a natural nose tackle for a 4-3. He has played in 3-4 schemes mostly at end. So he'll really need to ascend when pads come on in order to maintain the starting spot he held throughout OTAs. It's no easy assignment to be competing against a player who was with Kansas City in 2019-20, the team that used to employ Bears GM Ryan Poles.

7. CB Kindle Vildor. He already had a solid offseason and showed he might ascend in a new system. However, his hold on starting left cornerback is precarious at best. The Bears keep bringing aboard bigger cornerbacks and it's obvious this is the type of cornerback they like on the outside in their cover-2 based style defense. The latest is 6-foot-2 Jayson Stanley. Kyler Gordon is 6-foot, undrafted Allie Green is 6-3, BoPete Keyes is 6-1 and cornerback Lamar Jackson is 6-2. Vildor is listed at 5-11. He'll need to keep playing at a higher level.

6. CB Tavon Young. The Bears only paid $1.365 million for one year in signing Young and he didn't practice with starters extensively throughout minicamp and OTAs. There are a few youngsters nipping at his heels, including Thomas Graham Jr. and possibly even second-round pick Kyler Gordon or Jaylon Johnson. It's uncertain yet what the Bears will do at any starting cornerback spot. If Young is going to play and keep his slot position, he's going to need to be healthy and earn it.

5. WR Equanimeous St. Brown.  He has a bit of an advantage over some of the competing veteran free agents brought in, like David Moore, Dante Pettis and Tajae Sharpe, because he was in the Packers-style offense being installed by offensive coordinator by Luke Getsy. St. Brown did make a number of well-timed catches from Fields using his 6-foot-5 frame to reach over defenders but if he relaxes even a bit those veterans will be right there challenging for a roster spot. 

4. DE Robert Quinn. Matt Eberflus looked the other way when it was voluntary work Quinn skipped. He wasn't quite as positive in comments about the veteran pass rusher after Quinn skipped mandatory minicamp. When you're the team's highest paid player, three days of fines doesn't mean much. However, when real work begins Eberflus isn't likely to put up with someone choosing to go their own path with conditioning and taking rests. This is the camp when everyone is supposed to bring their track shoes and Quinn needs to be ready to run like everyone else. He's going to need to make a statement, provided the Bears haven't already traded him by then. The other reason Quinn needs a good camp is if the Bears really do intend to deal him at some point, some team out there would need to know he's healthy and ready to play because he wasn't around all offseason.

3. T Teven Jenkins. This is really an example of a hard-luck player who could use a break or two. The back injury last training camp, being thrust into the lineup during a game at Lambeau Field essentially without practice since June, and now he winds up in OTAs and minicamp practicing as a second-round pick practicing with backups while fifth-rounders Larry Borom and Braxton Jones line up with starters at tackle. Jenkins is known for physicality and what can he really show in offseason practices in that regard? He could be a player who really turns heads in preseason games and in the few training camp practice where there is some live hitting. The only question for Jenkins is which position he needs the big camp at because it could be right guard.

2. RG Sam Mustipher. The knee injury to Dakota Dozier might take pressure off Mustipher from one angle, but there are two rookies and possibly Jenkins to battle. Either way, Mustipher hasn't played the position so he can't afford any type of slip. What's worse is he could actually go from contending for a starting spot at OTAs and minicamp to having his job in jeopardy because the Bears drafted center Doug Kramer in the sixth round. They don't need a backup center very much. They need an effective right guard, so if they find a younger player can handle it as well or better, Mustipher could slide right down the roster to the point where his job is in jeopardy.

1. QB Justin Fields. Sporadic play ran through OTAs and into minicamp as coaches did plenty of shuffling with players and looked at position groups. It's not easy for a quarterback to be as consistent in such conditions. Then, toss in the installation of a new offense. This will slow in training camp and he'll play more consistently with the same receivers. Naturally the quality should improve and it will be expected to improve. Fields will not be under job pressure or even contract extension pressure, but to borrow a page from the Matt Nagy-Ryan Pace-Mitchell Trubisky era, coaches want to see steady, incremental improvement.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven

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