By Doug Halberstadt
It’s that time of year again, and I love it! The Chicago Bears return to Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Ill., tomorrow (Thursday, July 24) for training camp. The scenery will look a little different around campus this year. Some veteran faces won’t be pushing around the blocking sleds or running the tires as in years past. Most notably, Julius Peppers, Henry Melton and Corey Wootton are all gone.
That trio has been replaced by guys like Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young. They make up most of the changes on the defensive side of the ball. Over on the offense, the new guy in camp who is expected to grab most of the attention and headlines is quarterback Jimmy Clausen. The former Notre Dame star will be challenging Jordan Palmer for the opportunity to be Jay Cutler’s backup once the regular season begins.
The other Jordan I’m most curious about is former Northern Illinois University star quarterback Jordan Lynch. The Bears brought in the undrafted free agent not as a quarterback prospect, but rather as a running back. Lynch set numerous records for rushing while at NIU.
Last year, during his senior season, Lynch set two NCAA records. He holds the record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a season (1920); he also set the record for most yards in a single game by a quarterback (321) and he finished third in the voting for the 2013 Heisman Trophy.
Barring any type of pre-season injury, I don’t think there’s any chance in the world that Matt Forte won’t be the starting running back when the Bears open the 2014 regular season. I’m just wondering where Lynch might fit into the equation.
Will Head Coach Marc Trestman and Offensive Coordinator Aaron Kromer consider using the rookie Lynch as a backup to Forte? Would he fit into a running back by committee situation? Could Lynch run a wildcat-style offense and take direct snaps from the center? I think it’s great the team has all of those options readily available with the addition of Lynch.
The Bears will be looking for answers to each of those questions — and several others — over the next few weeks. That’s what training camp is for. Stay tuned …
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the July 23-29, 2014, issue