The Bears held their first voluntary OTA workouts on Tuesday with no media access scheduled until today. These workouts are non-contact drills that occur in helmets shorts and T-shirts and are a valuable learning opportunity for rookies new additions to the team and young players.
A common occurrence is veterans not participating in these workouts and on Tuesday team captain Brian Urlacher skipped these workouts. Urlacher is recovering from a knee injury sustained in the finale against the Vikings in week 17 but is on track to be ready for training camp.
In Urlacher's place will be second year UDFA linebacker Dom DeCicco who has the chance to cement himself on the 53-man roster by running with the first team. As Matt Bowen pointed out in a recent article OTAs are the perfect opportunity to develop fundamentals and learn the intricacies of the playbook something that will be extremely valuable to DeCicco. The second year linebacker needs to come along with development because the Bears did little to address the LB position in the off-season. Urlacher played in over 90% of the defensive snaps last year and if there is a capable backup in there to give him a breather every once in a while the goal would be to make the second year linebacker that guy.
Elsewhere on defense Corey Wootton needs to show and compete, as he is likely fighting for his NFL career. Wootton has battled constant injuries and needs all the conditioning work he can get in addition to work with Rod Marinelli. The Bears drafted Shea McClellin specifically because of Wootton's struggles and if he can develop it could possibly put 31-year-old DE Israel Idonije on the chopping block. Wootton's development is still key to making the defense younger and perhaps better for the future as there is a higher ceiling with Wootton than Idonije who has already hit his ceiling.
Thus far Shea McClellin has received special attention from Marinelli. McClellin must show why the Bears invested the 19th overall selection in by getting his feet wet. Marinelli is notorious for working his defense hard and these two hour activities are prime time for McClellin to get up to speed.
On offense draft picks Alshon Jeffery, and Evan Rodriguez must show their learning capabilities. Now is the time for them to refine their route running ability, learn how to get off of NFL press coverage and compete against veteran CBs brought in for a shot at continuing their careers. Any reps these rookies can win against Kelvin Hayden and Jonathan Wilhite will better help them as they head to training camp.
Jobs are not won or lost during OTAs, but for young up and coming players who need all the chances they can to learn this environment is the perfect opportunity to do so. The argument can almost be made that veterans who have experience in the system and are among the better players on the roster could benefit the team the most by not fully participating and acting as sideline coaches. The more reps young players receive the more one on one coaching tutelage they can take in the better for the future of this team.