Kordell Stewart took control of the offense and in doing so became a team leader. The quarterback showed why the Bears believe he’s the man to lead the offense. Stewart proved he still has life let in his 30 year old legs, on several occasions tucking the ball under his arm and taking off downfield.
Bryan Robinson looks to be on the road to redemption after struggling with problems on and off the field in 2002. The veteran moved to defensive tackle at the end of last season and now looks like he’s been playing there his entire career.
Jerry Azumah seemed to pick of a ball every few days of practice, but will that translate to success on the field. The cornerback started 16 games last year and came away without an interception.
"Jerry is more confident," Jauron said. "Jerry was a first year starter last year. He’s got a lot of physical tools and he’s starting to use them. (He’s) understanding receivers more, understanding routes, understands splits, the whole thing. Just the whole experience has helped Jerry."
Charles Tillman has jumped ahead in the battle for the nickel job, but that competition is far from over. Todd McMillon returned an interception for a touchdown in the team’s preseason opener and Roosevelt Williams, who went unnoticed for the majority of camp, had a solid last week of camp.
While the Bears remained relatively healthy heading into the last week of camp, but the team’s preseason opener yielded injuries to three players.
Todd Johnson and Terrence Metcalf suffered broken bones, while Bryan Knight aggravated a knee problem. All three will miss the game this weekend and maybe longer.
"I wish we had all of our people on the field, Jauron said. "The few people we have injured, we need to get them back."
Another concern is the depth or lack there of on the offensive line. The team is considering putting Marc Colombo on the Physically Unable to Perform List, which would mean he couldn’t play until after Week 6. Metcalf is able to play every position up front and is out at least two games.
"We’re certainly light experience-wise on the offensive line, we need everybody back there," Jauron said. "But I would say in that regard, we’re probably not unlike most people in the league. Because some people have been out, others have gotten a lot more work, which has been good; it has been good for them.
Several players are still competing for return honors. Ahmad Merritt and Bobby Wade are atop the list, but nothing has been solidified.
"We’ll see both of those guys (Merritt and Wade) in the return game, we’ll also see Maurice and also see Brock Forsey on the kickoffs," Jauron said. "I wouldn’t rank them right now, we just need to see those guys do it so we have a good feeling for them."
Still through the doubt Jauron remains positive about the upcoming season. The end of training camp signals the proximity of the upcoming season, one that will determine his future with the Bears.
"I feel good about our football team," Jauron said. "I like our guys, they’re hard-working guys. They’ve given us a lot of effort in camp; they gave us a lot of effort before we ever got to camp. So I have confidence in these people. We clearly have a ways to go."
After the Bears face Denver on Saturday, the team will return to Halas Hall and will soon reclaim Soldier Field as their home.
Jauron reflected on the experience of playing at Memorial Stadium.
"They were very supportive in Champaign a year ago in a very long year – loud, that part of it was outstanding. Clearly, we’re glad to be done with the travel and trying to play games and be traveling every weekend."