What’s the biggest question heading into Bears training camp?

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The Chicago Bears are gearing up for the start of training camp next week, and there are no shortage of storylines to follow this summer.

With a new regime in place, quarterback Justin Fields and linebacker Roquan Smith are probably the only players truly guaranteed a roster spot at this point. Safe to say, it’s going to be an entertaining camp with plenty of competition for starting jobs and roster spots.

Our Bears Wire staff is sharing their biggest question about the team heading into training camp, which includes some big concerns on offense and a looming question for a certain edge rusher.

Alyssa Barbieri: What will be the starting offensive line combination?

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Justin Fields was battered behind his offensive line last season. And while this offensive line hasn’t gotten worse, it hasn’t gotten better either. The fact that the Bears don’t know what their starting offensive line will look like heading into training camp isn’t the most reassuring thing considering it was a huge problem last season. But a lot of that has to do with the battle at the offensive tackle position, which will essentially dictate what the starting combination looks like. Left guard Cody Whitehair and center Lucas Patrick appear to be the only locks at their respective positions. 

Matt Eberflus made it clear that all starting combinations are open along the offensive line, but it looks like it’s going to come down to the tackle position. Larry Borom and Teven Jenkins started the offseason program at left and right tackle, respectively. But the Bears wanted to get a look at fifth-round rookie Braxton Jones, who occupied the starting left tackle job in the final week of OTAs and the entirety of mandatory minicamp, which kicked Borom to right tackle and Jenkins to the second team. Depending on how things shake out, there’s a chance we could see either Jenkins or Borom at right guard, which is another hole that needs to be filled. Sam Mustipher has been the primary starter at right guard this offseason.

Eberflus noted that they were going to evaluate the offensive line following minicamp before deciding whether they were going to go back to Jenkins at right tackle with the starters. Which means the first offensive line combination we see in training camp will tell us a lot about that evaluation and exactly where they’re leaning. But the true evaluation begins when the pads go on. Let’s hope Chicago figures out the starting offensive line sooner rather than later.

Brendan Sugrue: What will happen with Robert Quinn?

AP Photo/Duane Burleson

It’s been all quiet on the Robert Quinn front over the last month or so after the star pass rusher made it be known he was looking for a trade when he was a no-show to mandatory minicamp. Quinn is coming off a season for the history books, setting the franchise record for sacks in a single season with 18.5, while also winning the Brian Piccolo award for his leadership and courage on the team. But with general manager Ryan Poles strongly indicating that a rebuild is taking place since taking over, Quinn reportedly doesn’t want to be around for more losses and would like to be traded.

It’s a tricky situation for Poles and the Bears to navigate. Quinn can still be a dynamic pass rusher and is one of the best players on defense. He’s a major asset and having him around would not only benefit the defensive line’s play on the field, but also the development of young players such as Trevis Gipson and Dominique Robinson. If he stays away from the team, however, how long do they want to drag this out?

It will be a surprise if Quinn shows up at the start of training camp. He’s given every indication he’s willing to stay away until a deal materializes. But perhaps he comes around, realizes the fines aren’t worth the headache, and reports at some point. Maybe he even sees action in the regular season while the Bears continue to weigh their options with him. Either way, his status will be one to watch going into next week. 

Ryan Fedrau: Which wide receiver not named Darnell Mooney will step up?

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

We’ve seen what Darnell Mooney can do on the field, but the rest of the wide receiving group is questionable. There were flashes of potential N’Keal Harry had in New England, but he didn’t live up to his first round pick expectations. Byron Pringle brings excitement, but there’s a question on just how good he can be. Velus Jones Jr is a rookie, but a rookie who is older than Mooney and Harry. 

Those would be my guess if the top three wide receivers. There’s still a chance for Tajae Sharpe or Equanimeous St. Brown to come surprise the coaching staff and more playing time. 

Training camp for this group is going to be what I keep my eye on the most. Everyone is looking at the progression of quarterback Justin Fields, but if he has no one to throw the ball to, he won’t be as successful as some hope.

Nate Atkins: Can the Bears get through training camp without significant injuries?

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries are inevitable, but the Bears’ roster is thin at offensive line, linebacker, and defensive back. A few severe injuries could turn an expectedly bad season worse. 

Players will indeed get injured. After about 5-10 days of practice, the NFL injury list will grow. The severity of injuries varies. Last year the Bears were lucky to make it through training camp with few injuries. Teams like the Ravens lost two starters while the Colts lost their starting left guard for the season. 

While the Bears will likely have a top 10 pick in the 2023 draft, a few unfortunate injuries during training camp, and they could find themselves in a position they haven’t been in since 1941 – picking first overall.

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