As the Bears wrap up their first veteran mini-camp under new general manager Phil Emery, it's clear that there's a new presence within the franchise. New faces, whether they were brought in through the draft or free agency, dominated the week's storylines.
- Draft picks need time: Bears fans won't be happy to hear it, but none of the recent draft picks stood out this week. Now keep in mind, the team drafted these guys less than two months ago, and there is still plenty of time for seasoning and growth before they start playing games. But Shea McClellin was lined up at second-unit right defensive end, even though the team claimed that he would immediately help their pass rush. If McClellin starts the season behind Chauncey Davis on the depth chart, fans are entitled to be frustrated.
Alshon Jeffery didn't play this week due to a "lower leg injury," but even when he does get healthy, the Bears now have a surplus of bodies at wide receiver. Jeffery definitely has the measurables to compete right away, but nobody will know until we see him on the field.
No other draft picks played with the first-unit teams, and I don't expect any of them to any time soon. The Bears defense is deep and veteran laden. If fans are looking for an impact rookie, I think it will have to come from McClellin or Jeffery.
- Pass catching group is improved: For starters, I didn't realize how big Brandon Marshall is (he's enormous). Marshall already seems really comfortable. He and Cutler hooked up for numerous (and seemingly effortless) touchdowns in the team's red zone drill. He's the No. 1 receiver Cutler has craved.
I know Bears fans might roll their eyes, but everyone around that camp believes in Devin Hester as a receiver. New offensive coordinator Mike Tice seems hellbent on getting Hester touches in the slot, and Devin delivered numerous plays today from that position. If fans need to see to believe it, fine. But the addition of legitimate outside threats in Marshall and Jeffery makes Devin Hester a much better weapon on offense.
- Fine without Forte: Of course, the Bears want and need to get Matt Forte onto the field. And I think they will sooner than later. But Matt Bush seemed comfortable taking most of the reps with the first-team offense. Kahlil Bell got a few first-team reps as well, and even as a No. 2 back, Bell has proven he's a good option. Getting Forte into camp and in top shape should be the Bears top priority, but the cupboard isn't bare (no pun intended) without him.