The Chicago Bears head to mini-camp this Thursday and Friday for TWO a day workouts. Yes you read that right the Bears are going all out in gearing up for the season for real with two a day practices rather than four practices over four days. I'll get more in depth into what we want to look for at the mandatory mini-camp a little later. For now we're going to get into the news and transactions that have transpired recently.
In roster and contract news Danieal Manning has finally signed his one year restricted free agent tender offer. Manning was the last free agent out there who had yet to sign his contract and will be fully participating in mini-camp two a days. Manning will be competing for a starting safety spot with newly acquired safeties Chris Harris (via trade) and rookie Major Wright who will try to out right win the starting free safety spot.
Manning is likely in his last year with the Bears unless he can continue to contribute in a big way on special teams. You'd like to see the light bulb finally go on for Manning or you'd like to see him settle into a real role on the team. One could make the argument that Manning has never had the chance to settle into a role having switched from safety to CB to nickel back to safety and assuming kick return duties in between.
I have to admit I'm a bit of a fan of Manning's rooting for him to succeed but the time has come for him to prove that he has value to this team. If Manning fails it will be yet another reason to show Smith and Angelo the door at the end of 2010.
Elsewhere rookies J'Marcus Webb (OT) Josh Moore (CB) and Corey Wootton (DE) have already signed four year rookie contracts. The Bears to their credit have always been one of the best teams in the NFL in getting their draft picks signed and ready for camp. Webb is the one player in the rookie class that may need to stick on the 53-man roster more than any other player. The lack of young and promising depth on the offensive line is of huge concern for the Bears and we'd love to see Webb eventually push to be a starter out at RT at best or at the very least be a versatile backup. That's likely wishful thinking but it emphasizes all the more just how desperate the depth situations is at Halas Hall.
In front office news after the Bears finally settled on Tim Ruskell as director of player personnel the Bears have decided to retain all of the scouts they have on staff. There won't be any other front office moves for the time being. The Chicago Tribune provided this bit of insight into the front office and the personnel on hand. Kevin Turks and Dennard Wilson will return with new contracts. Both were working under expiring deals. Also, the staff of six college scouts will return for 2010. Marty Barrett, Chris Ballard, Rex Hogan, Ted Monago, Mark Sadowski and Jeff Shiver will return.