Offensively Speaking

Rex Grossman will get a chance to work in Terry Shea's offense for the first time starting Friday. While picking up the new offense is critical, according to Lovie Smith the success of the offense will ultimately fall on the supporting cast on both sides of the ball.

"Whether we win or lose, it is Rex who, of course, has to play well," Smith said. "But to me, the pressure is more on the guys around him. The defense has to come through and get a lot of turnovers to put Rex in position where he has to take a team 40 yards instead of 80 yards. We're going to be concentrating on that type of stuff right there as much as anything."

Grossman showed flashes of being the man to lead the offense in three starts last year. The influx of new talent around Grossman will help him make the adjustment to being the man from day one of mini-camp, which runs Friday through Sunday.

New right tackle John Tait gives Grossman another blocker to protect him as well as open up holes in the running game. The addition of Thomas Jones gives the Bears a speed threat out of the backfield.

Jerry Angelo has put his efforts in free agency towards filling holes on the offense. Still there are questions to answer at multiple positions. Some of the areas might be addressed in free agency or next month's draft, but at this point this is how wide receiver, right guard and left tackle breakdown.

The biggest unknown is left tackle. Smith is content to go with Qasim Mitchell, who has two career starts. The combination of an inexperienced left tackle and quarterback could lead to trouble, but Smith feels the only thing Mitchell lacks is a chance.

"First off, my idea on playing guys that have never played: If you like the talent, they have to start sometime," Smith said. "We like his talent. So we think we'll be OK."

Although there is a chance that Ephraim Salaam could sign with the Bears, the tackle rejected the Bears first contract offer.

Mike Gandy, the 2003 opening day starter at left tackle, looks to be the favorite to replace Chris Villarrial. The free agent departure of Villarrial shouldn't hurt the Bears because Gandy will move back to his natural position of guard.

Smith said that David Terrell is the top choice to start opposite Marty Booker heading into mini-camp. Terrell has spent the majority of his three years with Chicago behind Booker at flanker, which became a sore spot under the previous regime.

Booker is looking to bounce back from an injury plagued 52-reception campaign. Justin Gage and Bobby Wade contributed in their rookie campaigns and will get even more time this year. In the new offense there will be situations where one of them could get the start in a three-receiver set.

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