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Deep backfield puts Taylor on roster bubble

The Sports Xchange
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General manager Jerry Angelo has always been a proponent of having depth at running back, and this year's team appears to have plenty behind starter Matt Forte. There might not be enough roster space for veteran Chester Taylor.

Taylor had just three carries for 3 yards in the preseason opener, while Marion Barber rushed seven times for 45 yards and Kahlil Bell picked up 73 yards on 13 carries.

"We want to have a good stable of running backs," Angelo said. "Personally, that's always been a goal of mine. You can't have enough good running backs, particularly here in Chicago. We feel like we've got a good handful of running backs, and we feel they complement one another. They can all do something as little bit different and obviously that will bode well for us."

-- In his first six years in the league, defensive end Israel Idonije started just eight games, but he took a quantum leap last season, when he started every game after the season opener.

The reason was simple.

"Pass rush," defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. "He rushed extremely well. He had 8.0 sacks, but it was more than that. He should have had double figures. He missed a couple. In pass rush, everybody will think speed, speed, and that's part of it. But it's instincts and awareness and his hand placement. He's got a really good feel for that. He's got great length and a real knack, like (Julius Peppers) does, to get the sack/fumble. I think he's a heck of an end.

At age 30, the 6-foot-6, 275-pound Idonije shows no signs of slowing down and, if anything, appears to be a player who's still getting better. His 8.0 sacks last season equaled his total of the previous six seasons.

"He's had a real solid camp so far," Marinelli said, "and I expect him to continue to grow."

-- The secondary hasn't gotten much attention, which means the starters have been solid, including second-year free safety Major Wright, who might have won a starting spot last year but was hindered by a couple nagging injuries.

His transition into the starting lineup has been seamless so far, and he stood out in the preseason opener with a team-high five solo tackles.

"We've been very pleased with him," coach Lovie Smith said. "He was outstanding in the game. He's a great tackler, playing the ball a lot better. There is a lot of upside to him. He'll just continue to get better and better. He's a coachable guy. We don't have a whole lot to complain about as far as Major's concerned."

--When last year's leading receiver Johnny Knox was replaced in the starting lineup by free agent Roy Williams, critics thought offensive coordinator Mike Martz treated Knox unfairly.

And, when backup quarterback Caleb Hanie was not given any practice reps on the Monday after his lackluster preseason debut, the Martz bashers complained that he was being too hard on him.

But Angelo didn't share those impressions.

"I think that doesn't represent Mike at all," Angelo said. "Mike, like many coaches that I have been around, has ways of motivating players. He sets a high standard for all players, and well he should. Getting those players to meet those standards, that's the art of coaching.

"If Mike feels that some players need a little extra motivation, sometimes he's going to give it to them, but Mike likes our players. And they are our players. It's not like we can go back and reinvent our roster. The players on this roster, by and large, are the players that we need to have to win this year. I see it more as Mike just doing what he has to do to get the best out of each and every one of the players."

Hanie did play against the Giants on Monday, completing 17 of 28 passes for 166 yards, no touchdowns and an interception.

-- The Bears broke camp Saturday and moved their preseason operation to Halas Hall, but some of them will miss small-town Bourbonnais in the Far South Chicago suburbs. Some won't.

"I can't even pronounce this city first of all," wide receiver Roy Williams said. "But it's a great city. Is it a city or a town? Yeah, I'll miss it."

QUOTE TO NOTE
"Not unless Caleb's arm falls off or something." --Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz when asked about the possibility of rookie quarterback Nathan Enderle moving past backup Caleb Hanie on the depth chart this season.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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