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Will Moses Help Bears Line Part Defenses?

It's not quite training camp or even minicamp, which are mandatory, but organized team activities for the Bears could be a bit revealing.

The league which coined the term Super Bowl and popularized instant replay, also brought us the term "organized team activities."

It sounds like it came off the desk of a lifetime Washington bureaucrat. Spring practices simply would have sufficed.

The Bears begin their spring work on the field this week after choosing to eliminate one week to keep peace with the players.

It's not real football, because they're wearing helmets but not pads and the amount of contact is limited to linemen putting hands on each other and pushing a bit.

Once a while a pass defender loses control and accidentally crashes into a receiver, but other than this it's fairly benign and definitely boring.

Coach Matt Nagy said more "class on the grass," is to be conducted at these OTAs than in the past before coaches "...slowly ramp it up and see where they're at and hopefully by the end of it we're doing more field work and the guys feel good and it feels like a win-win for everybody."

There's plenty to learn about the team even if no one is actually supposed to be hitting. They allow media in on Wednesdays to take a look around before everything wraps up June 15-17 with a three-day mandatory minicamp.

Here's what can be learned:

1. Is Morgan Moses Going to Be a Bears Tackle and What's Going on Here?

The Bears have tackle Morgan Moses coming in Wednesday for a visit, which makes you wonder what kind of an offensive line anyone will see at OTAs. Moses played six straight years for Washington at right tackle, the seventh-best run-blocking tackle in the league last year according to Pro Football Focus. 

No one spelled this out in the offseason. It's been assumed Sam Mustipher would get to continue lining up with starters at center and James Daniels would need to slide over to right guard, a position he hasn't played in the NFL. Yet, neither Nagy nor offensive line coach Juan Castillo has specifically said this would be the case. Castillo did say Germain Ifedi would be at right tackle after he had been at right guard at the start of last season. However, if they sign Moses, then Ifedi would be going back to guard. 

Where that would leave Mustipher or Daniels then would be the issue. If they put Cody Whitehair back at center and Daniels back at left guard, where they'd been prior to a torn pectoral muscle suffered by Daniels last year, then Mustipher is sitting. Or they could keep Whitehair at left guard and Mustipher playing, but would have Daniels as what? Trade bait? 

Mustipher lined up at center to end last season and seemed to deliver a jolt to the line when inserted with six games left. It meant moving Whitehair from center to left guard, where he had played effectively in the past. And Whitehair blocked more effectively then than at any point in his career, if Pro Football Focus' grades are to be believed. But no one has said for certain Mustipher will be with starters. So for the sake of continuity and effectiveness, the grouping of Whitehair at left guard, Mustipher at center and Daniels at right guard looks like a natural. However, it must be seen first, for confirmation's sake. And then if Moses is signed, it's anyone's guess.

2. Who is the backup left tackle or "swing" tackle?

One thing already confirmed is second-round draft pick Teven Jenkins immediately lining up with starters at left tackle. No one on the roster has started an NFL game at left tackle and at least Jenkins did it for seven games in college and was supposed to start there his final year except for an injury that left him playing right tackle. The unanswered question is who would even be the backup behind Jenkins? Undrafted second-year player Badara Traore? Lachavious Simmons? Alex Bars? Bars has lined up at right guard, left guard, right tackle and center in games. He's tall enough and with a long enough reach to be a tackle, and he played there at times at Notre Dame.

3. How are they treating the nickel or slot cornerback spot?

It's supposed to be a battle between Duke Shelley, Kindle Vildor and Thomas Graham, but Vildor also figures to get a chance to compete at right cornerback with veteran Desmond Trufant. So will this be a case of Shelley simply lining up there with the first team, or will there be a regular rotation with the first team to get a better look at everyone in that role?

4. What kind of shape is Eddie Goldman in?

Their biggest name among COVID-19 opt outs practices for the first time since 2019. Will he simply step right back in and resume his nose tackle duties?

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5. Men of mystery

There are a handful of Bears who were new to the team last year and either opted out or suffered immediate or pre-camp injuries, only to vanish. There were no offseason workouts last year due to the pandemic, only a belated training camp. So no one has seen much, if anything, from these 2020 acquisitions. It almost seems safety Jordan Lucas (opt-out), cornerback Artie Burns (torn ACL a day into camp), cornerback Tre Roberson (precamp injury) and tight end Darion Clark (shoulder injury) all were put away in cold storage, to be brought back for another day. Clark was a basketball player in college and has almost no football exposure after he had a season-ending shoulder injury three days into camp last year. Roberson came from the CFL after he had a brief stint in Minnesota, but couldn't practice at all. Can they compete for spots where there appears room for someone else on the roster?

6. The Justin Fields-Andy Dalton deep throw comparison

It's only natural everyone will want to see Fields airing it out and how accurate he is with these after he has been labeled among the best deep throwers in college football for several years. How is his accuracy on throws compared to Dalton? Meanwhile, Dalton's deep passing has never been a particular strength, but it might be refreshing to see a veteran who has thrown it downfield better throughout his career than Mitchell Trubisky or Nick Foles.

7. Are they sticking with the QB plan?

Nagy told everyone Dalton gets first-team repetitions, Foles and Fields forage for snaps with the rest of the roster. Does this actually happen, or are they sneaking in a few first-team snaps for Field every now and then? This might indicate perhaps he's more advanced than anyone could have believed.

8. Who shows up for these things besides media, anyway?

The NFLPA strongly suggested players avoid offseason voluntary practice, partly because of COVID-19 but mainly because they oppose players doing voluntary work. However, a report from ESPN's Jeff Dickerson said 70% showed up at Halas Hall for the conditioning portion of OTAs. 

One person who won't show up until minicamp is Allen Robinson, who doesn't have a contract.

9. Who else shows up?  

It's June 1. It's a traditional time for some cap cuts around the league.  The Bears, for example, have made cuts designated for June 1 and the next day  the salary of Charles Leno Jr. comes off their books. They have the limit of 90 on the roster. Will they cut and add anyone else?

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven