5 storylines to monitor at Chicago Bears OTA's

5 storylines to monitor at Chicago Bears OTA's
TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 27: Jay Cutler #6 and Kyle Long #75 of the Chicago Bears walk to the sideline during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on December 27, 2015 in Tampa, Florida. The Bears defeated the Buccaneers 26-21. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The Chicago Bears are getting back to football this week. Well at least somewhat.

Organized team activities, OTA’s start on Tuesday at Halas Hall. The Bears will have 10 total practices over the next three weeks. The dates: (May 23, 24, 26, June 1-3, June 6-9).

Yes, we are far away from training camp and even the preseason, but these practices are very important especially for the new players trying to settle into the team’s schemes. It’s 11-on-11 football nonetheless.

With that being said, here are five storylines to monitor at OTA’s.

What will the offense look like under Dowell Loggains?

Last season’s offensive coordinator Adam Gase is now in Miami as the head coach. The Bears averaged 20.9 points per game, ranking 23rd in the NFL in that department in 2015. Quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains takes over for Gase and it should be a rather smooth transition for Jay Cutler and company. Cutler tossed 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, completing 64.4 percent of his passes with a career-high 92.3 quarterback rating.

Loggains will implement the same strategy for the most part offensively, but with the return of Kevin White this offense should have a lethal vertical passing game. Alshon Jeffery will benefit from White’s presence and the rest of the offense will be better off. The offensive line is younger and more versatile and that is something to pay attention to during the off-season training.

Quote: “He’s [Loggains] somebody that works so well with Jay,” Right guard Kyle Long told ESPN Chicago on Jan. 14. “He’s with him every day, all day. I couldn’t see Jay Cutler without him, and I couldn’t see this offense without him because of his ability to hold guys accountable.”

Young influx on defense

The Bears currently have 23 rookies on the roster including 11 on the defensive side of the ball. Six of those players came in the draft process while two others were priority undrafted signees. After having very little talent on the defensive line and at linebacker, the Bears have amped up the versatility and competition there. No. 9 overall selection Leonard Floyd is the leader of the pack at outside linebacker.

Adding playmakers was an important task this off-season and right now this defense is mixed with fresh young bodies and some crafty veterans. Being fast is something that should help them get off the field on third downs. Last season, the Bears owned the fourth-worst percentage on third down at 46 percent.

Quote: “We wanted speed,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio told the Sun-Times. “Our team speed up front last year was below average. To add somebody with some speed as part of his toolbox is something we were intrigued by.”

Who will get the first crack at safety next to Adrian Amos?

Last year it was fifth round rookie Adrian Amos that emerged as a full-time starter, recording 67 tackles in 16 starts. Veteran Antrel Rolle was sent packing after one season while Ryan Mundy is no longer around after missing 2015 with an injury. Right now, the safety spot is very young and inexperienced in Chicago.

Amos is set to start at one of the two safety spots that is for sure. Next to him, the top options are fourth rounder Deon Bush, sixth rounder DeAndre Houston-Carson and second-year man Harold Jones-Quartey. The Bears also have 29-year-old Chris Prosinski, special teamer Omar Bolden and third-year man Demontre Hurst. Jones-Quartey seems to be the favorite to run with the first-team, but my darkhorse to start next to Amos is Houston-Carson.

Quote: “When you have a young group like that, it’s been kind of my philosophy to throw everything at them and see how they react. And as you learn more about them as you go, maybe then curtail it back if you need to,” Fangio told the Tribune.

Weakest positions

The Bears are stronger all-around the roster for the most part, but two positions to me are weak in terms of overall talent. That is tight end and cornerback. Martellus Bennett is gone and that leaves injury prone 31-year-old Zach Miller at the top of the depth chart. Rob Housler along with youngsters Khari Lee, Ben Braunecker, Joe Sommers, Gannon Sinclair and Greg Scruggs will all be vying for roster spots. Look for a veteran to be added as the off-season picks up.

At cornerback, Kyle Fuller and Tracy Porter are the returning starters with slot corner Bryce Callahan, fifth-round pick Deiondre’ Hall, undrafted rookie Kevin Peterson and special teamer Sherrick McManis rounding out the group. The Bears also have undrafted rookie Taveze Calhoun and second-year players De’Vante Bausby and Jacoby Glenn. Hall and Peterson should provide nice young depth, but this is still a shaky group for the most part.

Quote: “We put some pieces in place where I feel like we’ve improved,” Miller told CBS Chicago. “Hopefully, we start out fast and let it take over from there.”

Running back timeshare

Outsiders may look at the Bears’ backfield and say it can’t be successful without longtime veteran workhorse Matt Forte. I’ll be honest, I was one of those skeptical people at first and I still think keeping Forte would have been wise. But the Bears have options in the backfield and it is something to be excited about.

Last year’s fourth-round pick Jeremy Langford will be the No. 1 back here initially while 2014 fourth round selection Ka’Deem Carey, this year’s fifth-round pick Jordan Howard and veteran Jacquizz Rodgers will all get a chance. The Bears also have special teamer Senorise Perry. A three-headed rotation of Langford, Howard and Carey is one that I really like and I expect to be productive under head coach John Fox. He loves having multiple high-end backs.

Quote: “The biggest part is just kind of settling on two guys typically in the rotation, who they are, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and then situationally or it can be even just as far as whoever has got a hot hand as far as in the game or the course of a game,” Fox told ChicagoBears.com.

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