Bears training camp preview: 3 burning questions for the safeties

Bears training camp preview: 3 burning questions for the safeties

With training camp starting later this month, CSN Chicago’s Chris Boden and JJ Stankevitz are looking at three burning questions for each of the Bears’ units heading into Bourbonnais. Today’s group: The safeties. 

1. Who starts at free safety?

Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson appear to be the headliners of this competition heading into training camp. Amos is an interesting player, not having an interception in over 1,800 career plays but receiving high marks from the folks at Pro Football Focus, who dubbed him a “secret superstar.” (https://twitter.com/PFF/status/883827042168565761) But coming off a season in which the Bears only forced 11 takeaways, Amos is hardly guaranteed to keep his starting gig. Enter Jackson, the fourth round Alabama safety who has good range and showed solid ball skills while in college. Provided he’s fully recovered from a broken leg suffered in October, Jackson will have a shot to start as a rookie.

“He’s wired right, he understands the game, in the classroom setting, questions and answers, he gets it,” coach John Fox said of Jackson. “He’ll get plenty of time in Bourbonnais.”

2. What will Quintin Demps bring to the secondary?

Demps is 32 years old but doesn’t feel like an elder statesman — “I’m still in my prime, man,” he said last month — but was signed to bring a steady veteran presence to a malfunctioning secondary. Demps picked off six passes — more than half of the Bears’ turnover total — in 2016, but a year before that only managed one interception with the Houston Texans. But that fluctuation didn’t worry Demps, who said his mentality is to tackle first and cover his assignments and let turnovers come to him. It’s a mindset he’s already working to impart on his fellow safeties, even if he doesn’t see himself as the old guy of the group. 

“There’s no formula to it,” Demps said. “Just do your job the best you can and you gotta use your instincts a lot. But you gotta do your job first and help out, and they’ll come to you.” 

3. Will Deiondre’ Hall stick at safety?

Hall flashed potential at cornerback last year but the Bears (and Hall) saw a better opportunity to get him on the field by teaching him some flexibility at safety. The 6-foot-2, 201 pound Hall played some safety at Northern Iowa, so he’s not foreign to the position. The hope for the Bears is, at the least, Hall can provide depth at one position, but his ability to play cornerback as well should help strengthen his case to help out the Bears in 2017. 

‘He had some experience there in college,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “When it comes down to picking your team and you’re taking nine or 10 DBs, if someone’s got versatility to play both of those spots, that helps, so we’re gonna see if he’s one of those guys.”

Bears training camp preview: 3 burning questions for tight ends

Bears training camp preview: 3 burning questions for tight ends

With training camp starting next week, CSN Chicago’s Chris Boden and JJ Stankevitz are looking at three burning questions for each of the Bears’ position groups heading into Bourbonnais. Thursday's unit: the tight ends.

1. Will Zach Miller make the 53-man roster?

Miller didn’t play a single down from 2012-14, and has missed seven games in two seasons with the Bears, but he’s been productive when on the field: 110 targets, 81 receptions, 925 yards and nine touchdowns. But the Bears signed Dion Sims to an $18 million contract and then drafted Adam Shaheen in the second round of the draft, moves that seemingly put Miller in a precarious position heading into Bourbonnais. Not helping Miller’s case is the Lisfranc fracture he suffered last November, which kept him sidelined through OTAs and veteran minicamp in May and June. He’d be a valuable player for the Bears to keep around, but at the same time, training camp could be a perfect storm for Miller to be among the cuts.

“They’re going to cutting it close for training camp,” coach John Fox said of Miller (and Danny Trevathan) in June. “But right now they’re right on target and that’s kind of what we expected all offseason.”

2. What can we expect from Adam Shaheen?

Shaheen was among the bright spots during May and June, hardly looking like someone who played his college ball at Division II Ashland while going against NFL defenders. But those were just shorts-and-helmets practices without any contact, so it’d be premature to project anything about Shaheen off of them. The real test for Shaheen will be when he puts the pads on in Bourbonnais and gets his first experience with the physicality of the NFL after a few years of being head and shoulders — literally — above his competition in college. It’s unlikely Shaheen will live up to his “Baby Gronk” hype in Year 1, but if he handles training camp well, he could be a valuable red zone asset for Mike Glennon as a rookie. 

“You don’t know until you put the pads on,” Shaheen said. “That’s what I’m excited for.”

3. How productive can this unit be?

Between Sims — who had a career high four touchdowns last year with the Miami Dolphins — and Shaheen, the Bears have two new, big targets for an offense that tied for 24th in the NFL with 19 passing touchdowns a year ago. If Miller sticks around, this group would have enviable depth. But even if he doesn’t, the Bears liked what they saw from Brown last year (16 receptions, 124 yards, 1 TD in six games). There are fewer questions about the tight ends heading into training camp than the receivers, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Glennon leans on this unit, especially early in the season. 

BearsTalk Podcast: Analyzing Mitch Trubisky's contract as rookies arrive for camp

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USA TODAY

BearsTalk Podcast: Analyzing Mitch Trubisky's contract as rookies arrive for camp

On Ep. 56 of our BearsTalk Podcast, Chris and JJ discuss Mitch Trubisky’s contract, question marks about the final 53, go over the Vikings off-season with Dawn Mitchell from Fox-9 Minneapolis, and go “Off the Grid” on  JJ’s recent engagement.