The Chicago Bears 2013 season was both memorable and forgettable at the same time. For the first time, ever, the offense was a force to be reckoned with and the defense was an absolute laughing stock. As a fan of this team since the late 70s, I can't ever remember saying both of those things in the SAME sentence. GM Phil Emery was swift and decisive in how he went about his business this off season from everything to re-signing key Free Agents like Jay Cutler, Tim Jennings, Matt Slauson and Charles Tillman to infusing a shot of youthful talent into a defensive unit pretty much left for dead after week 4 of last season with the drafting of Kyle Fuller, Ego Ferguson, Will Sutton and Brock Vereen. The Bears started 2014 training camp this week with 43 NEW faces and look to build off a tremendous offensive showing in 2013 and absolutely burn and bury a defense that made marshmallow cream look like granite.
The NEW faces range from some of the above mentioned draft picks to high profile pickups in Free Agency like defensive ends Lamarr Houston and Jared Allen down to street free agent pickups like Adrian Wilson and Jimmy Clausen. I'll discuss a handful of "newbies" that I'm excited to watch and they range from high profile draft picks and free agents to under the radar street and undrafted free agents. The first guy I want to get an up close and personal look at is 1st round cornerback Kyle Fuller. Like most of Bears Nation, I was hoping Pitt's Aaron Donald would fall to us (taken 1 pick before the BEARS by the Rams) or we'd nab Louisville's Calvin Pryor or Alabama's Ha-Ha Clinton Dix (who I hated to see fall in Green Bay's lap, by the way). I, like many others, didn't see cornerback as much of a priority (with the re-signing of Pro Bowl caliber corners Jennings and Tillman) as much as safety (with the debacle that was Chris Conte and Major Wright playing more like "Minor Wrong" last season). The more I had time to think about it, the more it actually made sense to me. With so many teams relying on multiple WR sets, you can never have too many good corners. Secondly, with Tillman on a 1 yr deal, it only makes sense to have a replacement plan brewing in case this is his last year playing if not for the Bears. Fuller was one of the top corner prospects coming out (even #1 on some experts boards) so the Bears definitely didn't hurt themselves (especially with Donald off the board at their pick). Fuller's ability to play on the outside and inside in nickel situations makes him a valuable asset for a defense featured by Mel Tucker to have multiple alignments and responsibilities for his personnel. The more you can do the better. The Bears have even started things out slowly for the rook by lining him up outside and bumping veteran Pro Bowl corner Tim Jennings inside to play nickel in passing situations. Fuller didn't disappoint in his 1st practice as a Pro with two picks (though off backups Jordan Palmer and Jimmy Clausen) so I'm sure I won't be the only one keeping a close eye on the 14th overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft.