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Bears Head to Bourbonnais

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jul 22, 2008 2:54PM

2008_07_bears_training_camp.jpgChicagoist returned from our honeymoon [Ed note: Congrats, Benjy!] just in time to see the Bears off as they head downstate to Bourbonnais, where the team will report for the start of training camp today. Unlike last season when the Bears headed into camp as defending NFC champs, this year's team is under the microscope as fans look for clues about whether or not we can be optimistic about the 2008 squad. There a lot of unanswered questions that we hope can be answered before taking the field on September 7.

At least one of the big question marks can be crossed off the list after linebacker Brian Urlacher finally got his contract reworked on Monday. While the face of the franchise is most certainly happy with his additional money, can he stay healthy?

While Urlacher's deal is done, the same can't be said for top pick Chris Williams just yet. His agent is optimistic about getting his contract hammered out before practices begin on Wednesday—we just pray that there's no repeat of Cedric Benson's lengthy holdout a couple years ago.

Speaking of the now former Bear, the team's running game is another cloudy situation. With Benson dismissed following his second DUI in a matter of weeks, the running game—and hence the backbone of the Bears' offense—will rest in the hands of either second round pick Matt Forte or recent free agent signee Kevin Jones. Is either one prepared to step up and lead the ground attack?

Otherwise, the Bears will have to depend on their passing game, but that leads us to two more big questions: who'll catch the ball and, more importantly, who'll be throwing it? The Bears are without both starting wideouts from last year, and have two mediocre quarterbacks on equal footing heading into camp.

Mushin Muhammed was cut and Bernard Berrian signing with Minnesota, the Bears will rely on the likes of the Marty Booker, Rashied Davis, and Devin Hester to fill out their receiving corp.

Throwing them the ball with be either Rex Grossman or Kyle Orton—both of whom have had sufficient time to prove whether they can be an NFL starting QB. Unfortunately, while we know that neither really are, the team remains stuck with the two duking it out for the top job after the Bears were unable to upgrade at the position in the off-season. Are the Bears sure they can't land Brett Favre?

For those who want to see what's in store for Lovie Smith's squad in person, Bourbonnais is just 60 miles from Chicago. The team will begin their free, open to the public practices on Wednesday at Olivet Nazarene University. Special fan days include Armed Forces Day, Comcast Hispanic Day, Family Night at ONU, and Safety Service Day.