The Chicago Bears open training camp on July 26 at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois. Here’s a closer look at the Bears' camp:
Top storyline: There are really only two major storylines for the Bears in 2017. The first involves embattled head coach John Fox, whose record in Chicago is 9-23. Will the Bears fire Fox during or after the season? The second storyline pertains to rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, whom Chicago drafted No. 2 overall in April. When will Trubisky -- the Bears' quarterback of the future -- be ready to take over the starting job? Everything else is basically window dressing. The Bears have missed the postseason nine of the past 10 years, and it will be a major upset if Chicago stays healthy and wins enough games to qualify for the playoffs this season. Chicago is still rebuilding, but you can’t properly rebuild until the head coach and starting quarterback are locked in for the foreseeable future. The Bears have a long way to go in that regard.
QB depth chart: Trubisky is the future, but right now the starting job belongs to veteran Mike Glennon, whom Bears general manager Ryan Pace guaranteed $16 million for 2017. Glennon, who took all the first-team reps in the offseason program, has been assured -- repeatedly -- that he’s the guy for now. Veteran Mark Sanchez -- guaranteed $1 million -- was the No. 2 quarterback before he suffered a knee injury prior to mandatory minicamp. Trubisky will begin camp as either the No. 2 or No. 3. Connor Shaw is the fourth quarterback on the roster. The Bears had planned to waive Shaw but decided not to when Sanchez got hurt.
Bubble watch: Veteran tight end Zach Miller is vulnerable after the Bears drafted Adam Shaheen in the second round. Miller is coming back from another foot injury and needs to have a productive and healthy camp to make the squad. Outside linebacker Lamarr Houston is scheduled to earn a base salary of $5.950 million, but he’s out of guaranteed money. That might be problematic for Houston, especially because the Bears are crowded at outside linebacker. Former first-round pick Kyle Fuller missed all of last season after a routine knee scope. The Bears spent money at cornerback in the offseason, signing Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper. Where that leaves Fuller is anyone’s guess at this point.
That rookie could start: Shaheen. The 6-foot-6, 277-pound tight end looked good in the offseason program. Chicago invested big dollars in free-agent tight end Dion Sims -- guaranteed $6 million in 2017 -- but Shaheen could give the Bears two starting-caliber tight ends. Of course, Shaheen played college ball at tiny Division II Ashland University, so he has to still prove he can do it at the NFL level when the pads go on. But so far, so good. Chicago is also high on running back Tarik Cohen, a fourth-round pick. He could spell Jordan Howard in the backfield.
Encore performance: The expectations are high for Howard, who last season finished second in the NFL in rushing yards (1,313). The amazing part about that is Howard wasn’t in great shape last season, partly because he didn’t expect to play so much. If you go back and watch the film, Howard actually left a lot of yards on the field. But he looked well-conditioned in the offseason program and should account for a large chunk of Chicago’s offense. Howard was one of only five rookies in NFL history to average at least 5.0 yards per carry on a minimum 250 rushing attempts. He also became just the fourth Bears player to rush for 1,300 yards in a season, joining Walter Payton, Matt Forte and Thomas Jones.
Now or never: The Bears have to find out whether receiver Kevin White is for real. The No. 7 overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft, White has played in just four regular-season games. After suffering two separate leg injuries (to the same leg), the Bears have no idea what to expect from White, who caught 109 balls in his final season at West Virginia. But he arrived in Chicago with limited experience running NFL-caliber routes, making all the time he’s missed even more costly. The Bears let receiver Alshon Jeffery walk away for nothing this offseason. The only way Chicago saves face after that move is for White to emerge.
For daily updates at camp, check out the Chicago Bears clubhouse page.