REPORT DATE: July 25th
SITE: Olivet Nazarene University, Bourbonnais, IL
CAMP OBJECTIVES: A situation of disharmony that threatened to disrupt Chicago's summer practice schedule was averted in the days leading up to camp when the team came to agreement with Matt Forte on a new four-year contract, preventing a potential holdout from the standout running back and allowing head coach Lovie Smith and his staff to devote their full attention to the most pressing on-field matters. As has been the case with the Bears in past years, chief among them will be stabilizing an offensive line that's struggled in pass protection in recent times. The main battle lies at left tackle, where returning starter J'Marcus Webb endured an inconsistent 2011 season and will be pushed for his job by Chris Williams, a 2009 first-round pick whose career has also been marked by erratic play. Right guard is also unsettled, with ex-49er Chilo Rachal brought in to compete with returnee Lance Louis for the starter's role. Achieving continuity between quarterback Jay Cutler and a revamped receiver corps that now contains three-time Pro Bowl honoree Brandon Marshall and big-bodied rookie Alshon Jeffery (2nd Round, South Carolina) will also be on new offensive coordinator Mike Tice's agenda, while 2012 first- round selection Shea McClellin will have a chance to take snaps away from veteran Israel Idonije at left defensive end with a strong preseason. Expect Smith to be cautious with his cornerstone players in camp, with Cutler, Forte and young right tackle Gabe Carimi all missing significant time with injuries last year and longtime middle linebacker Brian Urlacher sitting out the spring with a knee problem.
PRESEASON SCHEDULE (All Times Eastern):
Aug. 9 - vs. Denver, 8:30 p.m. Aug. 18 - vs. Washington, 8 p.m. Aug. 24 - at N.Y. Giants, 8 p.m. Aug. 30 - at Cleveland, 8 p.m.