Optimism riding high at Camp Trestman despite injuries

Optimism riding high at Camp Trestman despite injuries
Bears fans wait for players at the end of practice. — Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune

For those who suggest the Chicago Bears injuries in camp so far are cause for concern, I say hogwash. The spirits are high at Camp Trestman, and rightfully so. It’s the dawn of a new (and hopefully improved) offensive era for our Bears, and that optimism train will keep right on rollin’ no matter what. Besides, things could be a whole heck of a lot worse.

Yes, the Bears released DE Turk McBride following and injury and settlement, but that is just a depth hit. Brian Urlacher’s replacement, D.J. Williams, is week-to-week with a calf injury. Earl Bennett may have a concussion. Kelvin Hayden, Alshon Jeffery and Julius Peppers are nursing hammies, and Jonathan Scott has a knee.

Jermon Bushrod, the highlight acquisition of the Bears’ free agent class (with apologies to Martellus Bennett), is coming back from a calf strain. And Scott (before the knee) looked awful at LT, so the Bears really, really need Bushrod to be healthy this season.

But hey, nobody is going to feel sorry for us — injuries happen in the NFL. And at least the Bears do not have any of their top players out for the season, like the Ravens’ Dennis Pitta and the Eagles’ Jeremy Maclin. Even their top division rival — the Green Bay Packers — are missing LT Bryan Bulaga with a torn ACL and receiver Jordy Nelson, who underwent knee surgery.

So things could be worse.

On the contrary, things couldn’t be better, especially when examined through the rose-colored lenses that Bears’ head coach Marc Trestman uses. Trestman is weird; we have already established that. But if he delivers as promised, no one will care, least of all Bears fans.

Trestman is an optimist by nature; in fact, so much so that Hall of Famer Jerry Rice has openly questioned whether he can be tough enough when the situation warrants. But Rice is also quick to point out how smart Trestman is, so there’s even a silver lining in that potentially dark cloud.

In my camp observations, I have noticed that Trestman has been more than willing to encourage Jay Cutler to get plays out faster. Tempo is the calling card of the Trestman regime. Jay hasn't always been able to execute, but that's something he has time to work on.

If I were to adopt the same optimistic outlook that Trestman has — and why not, given that hope runs eternal this time of year? — I would point to Cutler having a more diverse set of weapons to throw to, despite having a lack of outstanding, proven wide receivers (outside of Brandon Marshall).

He has the aforementioned Bennett and a coach willing to throw to the tight end. He has Matt Forte, who will not be the forgotten man catching passes out of the backfield. And, above all, he should have better blocking, and even if he does not, he will get rid of the ball quicker, so that fact alone should help the offensive line.

The Bears are also returning some impressive starters on defense in Peppers, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman, among others. They also have a coach in Mel Tucker who will essentially run the same scheme. Hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

Playing devil’s advocate, the defense continues to age, and no one knows what Shea McClellin will turn out to be. And of course with Urlacher gone, the leadership void could be an issue, as Briggs will need to step up both in being a leader and in calling the signals.

And, meanwhile, this will be yet another offense for Cutler to learn, and God forbid he goes down as the Bears have no one viable to take his place.

But there I go again wearing my negativity hat. That’s not allowed at Camp Trestman. Truth be told, it’s not a hat I want to wear. I want to drink the kool-aide. I want to believe that Cutler will finally blossom and remain healthy for a full season.

Yes, 10 wins is a tough act to follow. Normally, new head coaches walk into a situation where the team is coming off of a dismal season. But not Trestman. Despite his faults — and there were many, especially on the offensive side of the football — Lovie Smith’s team won 10 games in 2013.

Does that mean that Trestman has to win 11 games or make the playoffs to be successful? Not to me, as those goals are unrealistic for a rookie head coach.

But that optimism is contagious, I must admit. So what the heck — playoffs here we come!

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