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Bears Training Camp Position Battles: WR

Every year in August, training camp begins for the 32 teams in the NFL. The goal is to get everyone ready for the season by learning the playbook, schemes, coaches, and rapport with players. It is also a time to establish a rough draft of a team's depth chart. Training camp is a a perfect time for coaches to evaluate their personnel and see if the moves they made with the front office during the off-season, look to fill in nicely and create a good level of competition throughout camp.

The Chicago Bears are no exception. With more than their fair share of position battles going on for a very competitive roster, the Bears are in position to have a very talented starting roster, rounded out by very capable players backing them up or in supporting roles.

Some positions for the Bears are set in stone right now such as QB Jay Cutler, HB Matt Forte, WR Devin Hester, C Olin Kreutz, DT Tommie Harris, OLB Lance Briggs, MLB Brian Urlacher, CB Charles Tillman, all being penciled in as given starters (don't forget the special teams as well). However, there are a slew of positions still looking for a surefire starter and for most of which, will not be settled until the start of regular season.

Nonetheless, training camp is where the battle begins and here's what you should know:

The positions being watched the most by coaches and fans are the wide receivers, offensive tackles, offensive guards, defensive tackles, outside linebackers, cornerbacks, and safeties. Each position will have their own segment.

Wide Receiver – Devin Hester is the #1 WR for the Bears. And as long as no other moves are taking place (Plaxico Burress, Anquan Boldin, Braylon Edwards, etc.) that is unlikely to change. The question is; who's starting opposite of him? Earl Bennett, Rasheid Davis, and Juaquin Iglesias all have their hands raised.

Bennett has the edge out of the three because of his size (6'0”, 203 pounds), and his hands makes him an ideal possession receiver that would compliment the speedy, downhill threat of Hester very well. Bennett also has a collegiate rapport with Cutler from their days at Vanderbilt, that Bears coaches and fans hope carry over to the pro level. Despite doing nothing (literally) in his rookie year, the Bears staff all seem to be very impressed with Bennett's off-season workouts and he's been working with the first-string offense more than the other two.

Rashied Davis is still on the Bears roster and he has the Bears front office to thank for not paying too much attention to his ailment of the drops the last season. Davis has developed a niche for making the clutch catch and usually possesses sure hands despite last season. He is the most experienced receiver in the battle and has been in coordinator Ron Turner's offense longer. However, Davis has less than ideal size (5'9”, 187 pounds) for the flanker position, and is is not the speed threat you would expect with those measurements. Yet, Davis had the statistics last year to make a case for the job (35 catches. 445 yards, 12.7 average, and 2 touchdowns). However, it is the opinion of this writer that Davis would be better suited for the role of slot receiver.

Bears fans would love to see third round pick, Juaquin Iglesias end up with the job. The rookie had an impressive career at Oklahoma and is heralded by scouts as a potentially excellent second or third receiver for an NFL roster. He also boasts some impressive return skills. Word from the Bears was that Iglesias was also impressive in OTA's with sure hands. In college, Iglesias was also not afraid to go over the middle for the catch which is something a good flanking receiver will have to do. But Bears fans should remember, that rookie Bears receivers usually don't translate into great success in their first season. Just ask Earl Bennett.

- Joshua D. Aldis (8/02/09)

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