Bears OTAs wind down, stories to watch as team moves to minicamp

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3 storylines to follow as Bears OTAs wind down originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

After forfeiting a practice on Tuesday, the Bears OTAs will wrap up on Wednesday. It’s a transition time of sorts for the team, as they move from the early stages of the offseason program into mandatory minicamp, and eventually training camp. So, before the Bears begin their final day of OTAs, here are a few storylines to look out for.


Much was made of the Bears’ top cornerback taking reps with the second unit the last time the media watched OTAs. Was Johnson in the dog house? Was Matt Eberflus trying to send a message to the team that no one will receive preferential treatment in his program? Or was the team simply trying to ramp Johnson up to speed after he missed some earlier voluntary workouts? If Johnson is back with the 1s and playing alongside Kyler Gordon, then we can all move on knowing that either the message has been received, or Johnson is ready to rock. But if he’s still relegated to playing with the backups, then something else may be afoot, and there will be many more questions about Johnson and his standing with the new regime.


Up to this point, the Bears have rotated Sam Mustipher and Dakota Dozier at right guard with the first offensive line unit. That’s not surprising, as the position was one of the biggest questions heading into the year after the team opted not to re-sign James Daniels, then missed out on Ryan Bates in free agency. Eventually the team will have to settle on one man to play RG however, and the earlier the better. If one man holds down the position for all of Wednesday, and the mandatory minicamp next week it will be a sign that one man has taken the lead in the competition. But if they continue to switch off, or even introduce a new player into the rotation like rookie Zachary Thomas, then the competition could become one to watch throughout the summer.


No position group has drawn more scrutiny than the wide receiver unit this year. The team parted ways with Allen Robinson, and sat out for much of the spending spree at the position in free agency, opting to bring in several players on smaller contracts instead. In practice, many of the players have made good plays here and there. We’ve seen Velus Jones Jr. catch and runs, Byron Pringle working the seam and some under routes from guys like Chris Finke. Even lesser-heralded players, like Isaiah Coulter or Kevin Shaa have had people looking down at their roster sheets after making impressive catches. But no man has made highlight-worthy plays consistently when OTAs have been open to the media. As it is, Darnell Mooney will draw the majority of opposing defenses’ attention on the field. That should open up the field for someone to step up and make plays. But if no one does that could make life difficult for Mooney all season long.

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