Bears

Bears' depth to be tested against New Orleans

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Bears' depth to be tested against New Orleans

Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011Posted: 12:24 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
For much of the 2010 season, the Bears were lucky. Once their offensive line got past its early season injuries (five different lines in the first seven games), only a few positions changed hands because of injury.

But after just one week of 2011, the quality of the Bears reserves could well determine whether this team is close is a playoff berth three months from now, when a game or two can be the difference between just 16 games and continuing on into the lightning round.

Starters are starters for a reason. But the Bears lose little if anything with the reserves being plugged into unfortunate openings.

Four positions come sharply into focus heading into New Orleans:

Wide receiver

Roy Williams caught all four of the passes thrown to him in the Atlanta game before straining a groin the fourth quarter. He did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, was limited on Friday and is officially listed as questionable.

Johnny Knox took the starters share of reps all week with the No. 1 offense.

This is the same Johnny Knox whose job was given to Williams. Then again, it is not the same Johnny Knox in the ways that matter. Knoxs mistakes have been cut back. Sometimes tough love is the best kind.

Hes made tremendous improvement each and every day, worked to get better, and thats what you look for in a young guy every time you go out there, said receivers coach Darryl Drake. Hes got to continue to do that. The thing were looking for now is consistency, being where hes supposed to be and doing things right.

Knox led the Bears in receiving yards (960), TDs (five), average yards per catch (18.8 yards) and tied for team high with 51 receptions more production than Williams has had in any season since 2006, the year after his Pro Bowl year.
Safety

Veteran Chris Harris was unable to practice all week on an injured hamstring and is listed as doubtful; he wont play.

But the Bears invested a high draft choice (third round) in Chris Conte and followed that in the days before the first game by signing Brandon Meriweather after his release by New England. Meriweather is a prototypical free safety, is expected start at that spot.

Lovie Smith and his staff routinely describe their safety positions as interchangeable. Not necessarily true, literally.

They teach you both safety spots and I think thats what hes talking about, Meriweather said. If you know one, you have to know the other. Since day one, Ive been trying to learn both.

The 2010 third-round pick, Major Wright, will work at strong safety, where his tackling ability is a plus.

The depth behind the depth Conte has had coaches excited since training camp.

Hes everything youre looking for in a safety, said Smith, a defensive back himself at Tulsa. Theres a reason why we drafted him as high as we did. He has excellent hands, has picked up the defense fairly quick, weve played him on special teams and hes made plays on it. Everything you look for in a guy before he breaks out, he has.

Right guard

Chris Spencer stepped in when Lance Louis went down last Sunday with an ankle injury and has worked with the No. 1 unit this week. His better position is perhaps center, but for loose comparisons sake, the Bears averaged 1.7 yards per carry in the first half vs. Atlanta and 4.7 in the second, which was played entirely with Spencer at guard.

If there is a falloff, it is difficult to see. Edwin Williams is the other alternative at right guard and took reps with the 1s this week. He was deemed good enough to leave there last season when Louis was healthy enough after a minor leg injury.
Running back
The most concerning problem created by injury is at No. 2 running back, where Marion Barber practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, then not at all the rest of the week. Kahlil Bell gave the Bears 10 carries last Sunday to spell Matt Forte and averaged 2.4 yards a carry (Chester Taylors average for 2010), and is an upgrade from Taylor, if a falloff from hard-running Barber and obviously from Forte.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

NFL Mock Draft: Bears get aggressive at QB in 2nd round

NFL Mock Draft: Bears get aggressive at QB in 2nd round

The Bears' 2020 NFL draft needs haven't changed since our last mock draft, but with the Senior Bowl in the books, there are several prospects whose stocks are on the rise while others are beginning to experience the dreaded pre-draft fall.

It's unfair to suggest that three days of on-field practices will tank the stock of a player like Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts, but his questionable performance did create more questions than answers about his ability to be an NFL starter. As a result, teams that may have pegged him as a strong Day-2 option for their quarterback depth chart have no choice but to dive deeper into other potential options at the position.

The Bears fall into that category, and in this mock draft, they swing at another young passer who could be a long-term answer under center if Trubisky fails.

Check out our updated seven-round mock draft:

Chicago Bears Post-Senior Bowl Mock Draft

Bears Season in Review: Adam Shaheen

Bears Season in Review: Adam Shaheen

The Bears 2019 season was a lesson in disappointment in almost every way possible, from the quarterback to the offensive line and even the vaunted pass rush. But no position underwhelmed more than tight end, and Adam Shaheen was a big reason why.

The former second-round pick of the 2017 NFL draft failed to make any impact whatsoever. And that's not hyperbole. He appeared in just eight games, registering nine catches for 74 yards and zero touchdowns. Believe it or not, his stat line was an improvement over 2018 when he had just five catches for 48 yards in six games.

Shaheen's career narrative has been defined by injury, and it continued last season. He was placed on injured reserve in late-November with an apparent foot injury, marking the second-straight season that his year came to an early end.

It's been a remarkably disappointing career for Shaheen so far, who was viewed as a Rob Gronkowski-lite coming out of Ashland University. His jump from the small-school ranks to the NFL was expected to include a steep learning curve, but after three forgettable seasons, it's safe to say Shaheen's failed in almost every way possible.

The Bears are expected to bring Shaheen back for 2020 and he'll likely be in a training-camp battle for a roster spot. Chicago is going to add more talent to the position via either free agency or the NFL Draft and it wouldn't be a surprise if Shaheen begins the offseason schedule last on the depth chart.

It's been an unfortunate outcome for a draft pick that seemed so promising in 2017. Instead of growing into a fixture in the Bears' lineup, Shaheen will be left to fight for his NFL future this summer.

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