Offseason MVPs: Workout Warriors

TE Greg Olsen (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

The Chicago Bears wrapped up offseason practice this week, so it's time to recognize the players that were notably impressive throughout minicamp and OTAs. Greg Olsen, who looks primed for a monster year, was one of them. And who are the others? JC hands out some hardware before training camp.

Greg Olsen

Show me a quarterback that knows how to incorporate his tight ends into the passing offense, and I'll show you a quarterback that's going to be successful in this league. Jay Cutler turned Brandon Marshall into a Pro Bowler and Eddie Royal into a rookie sensation in Denver, but don't forget that the tight end combination of Tony Scheffler and Daniel Graham caught 73 passes for 1,034 yards and seven touchdowns for the Broncos in '09. Now Cutler has Olsen and Desmond Clark at his disposal, with Olsen in particular developing a rapport with his new signal caller quickly – fantasy football fanatics believe he'll be a top-five player at his position.

Even though Clark is technically still atop the depth chart, Olsen is as much a wideout as a tight end these days and will help augment what is believed to be a weak group at the receiver position.


Bowman has gotten his mitts on the ball often.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Zack Bowman

The original plan called for Bowman to move from cornerback to safety, as the second-year pro was a pretty good safety once upon a time in the junior-college ranks. But when the offseason began at Halas Hall, it was Corey Graham making that switch while Bowman took first-team reps on the left side – Charles Tillman has been in and out of the lineup since coming back from shoulder surgery. Bowman has the prototypical build for a Cover-2 corner at 6-1 and 197 pounds, and it was reported by the team's official Web site that the former Nebraska Cornhusker intercepted a total seven passes during the first 10 sessions of OTAs.

Since both Tillman and Nathan Vasher have had trouble staying on the field for all 16 games the last few years, Bowman may be the first reserve off the bench with Graham working at safety and nickel back.

Israel Idonije

Proving once again that he is one of the more versatile performers the Bears have had in recent memory, Idonije has dropped about 30 pounds as he prepares to make the flip back to end from tackle. But with Tommie Harris forced to sit and watch because the organization is being extra careful with his troublesome knee, Idonije has still been starting at the three-technique tackle and fitting in just fine. Assuming Harris is on the field more in training camp and rookie Jarron Gilbert begins to develop, Idonije should see increased time at end and may even supplant Mark Anderson as the No. 3 behind Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye – he's always terrific on special teams, too.

Both Ogunleye and Anderson are going into the final year of their contracts, but it was Idonije signing a two-year extension through 2011 back on May 29.


Williams could start at 'backer for many teams.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Jamar Williams

It's hard to be impressed with the resume Williams has put together during his three years in the league, starting just one of 35 games played and doing little more than special-teams work. But the former Arizona State Sun Devil has always been an impressive practice player, and you have to cut him some slack since he's been buried on the depth chart behind Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs – those two have been to a combined 10 Pro Bowls. And while it looks like he is once again nothing but a reserve after the acquisition of Pisa Tinoisamoa, Williams is going to be the immediate backup at all three linebacker positions and continues to be a critical contributor on all of the coverage units.

Like Bowman, Williams has shown a nose for the football throughout the offseason program and also has incredibly soft hands for a front-seven defender.

Frank Omiyale

Yes, it's hard to get a read on either offensive or defensive linemen during offseason workouts because nobody's wearing pads and there is very little contact, but Omiyale deserves some credit for making a smooth transition from tackle to guard so far. The free-agent signee still has to be considered inexperienced – at least in terms of games played – at tackle, his natural spot, so the fact that he's in line to bump Josh Beekman at left guard already means he's coming along quite well. If Omiyale can pull as well as Ruben Brown did a few seasons ago before he started to break down, Matt Forte will benefit from a yards-per-carry perspective.

GM Jerry Angelo has been interested in Omiyale for a long time and always believed he'd be a good candidate to slide inside, and we're starting to see why.


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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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