The Chicago Bears open training camp on July 30 on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois. Here's a closer look at the Bears camp, which wraps up on Aug. 16.
Top storyline: For the first time since he arrived in Chicago six years ago, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is in a vulnerable situation. The organization's new regime, led by head coach John Fox and general manager Ryan Pace, is under no true obligation to keep Cutler beyond 2015. Cutler is guaranteed $10 million of his 2016 salary, but Chicago's chances of potentially trading the quarterback next offseason are much more favorable than this past spring, when draft-day talks with Tennessee fizzled because of Cutler's massive contract. Based on the offseason program, Cutler does appear to be on solid ground with offensive coordinator Adam Gase and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains. However, Bears fans have seen this story before. Cutler is on his third head coach, fifth offensive coordinator and third general manager since 2009. Cutler is likely the next to go unless he thrives in the club's new offense and guides Chicago to the playoffs for just the second time in his career.
Position battles to watch: Veteran Ray McDonald's sudden release in late May left a void at defensive end. Second-round pick Ego Ferguson (2014), former Washington Redskin Jarvis Jenkins, Brandon Dunn, Cornelius Washington and possibly veteran Jeremiah Ratliff are expected to battle for playing time up front as the club transitions to a 3-4 scheme. Converted 4-3 defensive end Lamarr Houston could be another option, although Houston missed the entire offseason program rehabbing from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The Bears list Houston at outside linebacker, but his best position might still be on the line. The defense is also searching for an outside linebacker to compliment top free-agent acquisition Pernell McPhee. Houston, Jared Allen, Willie Young (injured), Jon Bostic, Sam Acho and David Bass are among those players in the mix.
Veterans to watch: Allen -- a five-time Pro Bowl selection -- spent the offseason learning a new position. The 33-year old is moving from his customary 4-3 defensive end spot to outside linebacker in new Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio's version of the 3-4 defense, in which the 12-year veteran will be required to operate out of a two-point stance and occasionally drop back in coverage. "My body feels fresher because I'm not banging every single day and putting my hands on a 300-plus pounder and banging heads and that kind of stuff. I'm having fun with it," Allen said in June. Allen had a career-low 5.5 sacks in 2014. Cornerback Tim Jennings is also feeling pressure to have a bounce-back season after he failed to intercept a single pass last year. Tailback Matt Forte is entering the final year of his contract and might be playing his last season in Chicago.
Rookies to watch: No. 7 overall draft choice wide receiver Kevin White is expected to contribute immediately. White did not participate in the Bears' mandatory minicamp for precautionary reasons, but the rookie is now healthy and recently spent time working out with Cutler, tight end Martellus Bennett and several of the other receivers in Nashville, Tennessee. White has drawn comparisons to star Arizona Cardinals wideout Larry Fitzgerald. Chicago is high on second-round pick Eddie Goldman, who should receive snaps at nose tackle. Goldman is particularly strong versus the run but needs to develop more pass-rushing skills. Fourth-round choice Jeremy Langford, a running back, is the favorite to be the primary backup to Forte.
Bubble watch: Former first-round pick Shea McClellin moved to inside linebacker in April after lining up the past three seasons at both defensive end and strongside linebacker in a 4-3 defense. McClellin is athletic, but outside of one memorable game against the Green Bay Packers in 2013, he’s made few impact plays to justify being the 19th overall selection of the 2012 NFL draft. McClellin likely has to beat out Mason Foster for the right to start inside next to Christian Jones, but Foster is an experienced linebacker in this scheme. It will not be easy. McClellin's athleticism could lend itself to a role on special teams if he fails to win a starting job, but he enters training camp with zero assurances regarding his future in Chicago.
Moving parts: In just two short seasons, Kyle Long developed the reputation as being one of the NFL's best offensive guards. Interestingly, Long wrapped up the final two weeks of the offseason program playing both right and left tackle. That chain of events immediately raised questions about the Bears' long-term vision for the two-time Pro Bowl selection. Veteran Jermon Bushrod is expected to remain at left tackle, but if right tackle Jordan Mills suffers another medical setback, Long could be on the move.
For daily updates at camp, check out the Chicago Bears' clubhouse page.