Strategy And Personnel

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TEAM NEEDS

1. Offensive line: Every position on the line could be upgraded with the exception of right tackle, which should be in good hands, as long as last year's No. 1 pick Gabe Carimi is fully recovered from a dislocated kneecap that sidelined him after two games. Improvement is especially needed at left tackle, given the lack of pass protection provided by J'Marcus Webb last season.

2. Pass-rushing defensive end: UFA Israel Idonije was re-signed, and he is a solid run defender, but he had just five sacks playing across from DRE Julius Peppers. The defense is based on getting pass-rush pressure from the linemen, but they did not get that consistently last season.

3. Wide receiver: With the addition of Brandon Marshall, the Bears have their long-awaited No. 1 receiver. But, the most productive member of last year's group, Johnny Knox, is slowly rehabbing from a devastating hit late last season that necessitated back surgery. There is no timetable for his return.

MEDICAL WATCH

--WR Johnny Knox continues on the long road back from the gruesome back injury he suffered late last season that necessitated spinal fusion surgery. As yet, there is no timetable for his return.

"He has made progress and will continue to make progress," Bears general manager Phil Emery said. "As I've told him, ultimately it'll be him that will decide when he comes back. It'll be him telling us where he's at in the rehab process. We're a long ways from having to make that decision, and we're going to lean heavily on Johnny helping us make that decision."

Knox was bent backward at a grotesque angle while trying to make a tackle after he caught a pass but then fumbled.

FRANCHISE PLAYER
RB Matt Forte (tendered at $7.742 million).

TRANSITION PLAYER
None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--LS Chris Massey filled in reliably last season, and Patrick Mannelly, the Bears' long-snapper for the past 14 years, is still rehabbing from the torn ACL that ended his 2011 season in November. Mannelly might not be 100 percent for some time.

--DT Amobi Okoye contributed in the rotation last season and has five years' experience, even though he's still only 24, so he could have a lot of good football ahead of him. But, with starters Henry Melton and Matt Toeaina back, and last year's second-round pick Stephen Paea expected to play a bigger role, where does Okoye fit?

--WR Roy Williams, at 6-3 and 215 pounds, is easily the biggest of an undersized group of wide receivers. But, despite high hopes last season, Williams' production was pedestrian: 37 catches, 507 yards, two touchdowns.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--RB Kahlil Bell (tendered at $1.26M with no compensation) was impressive in late-season action last year outperforming Marion Barber, although even in limited action he fumbled three times.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
None.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

--TE Kellen Davis: UFA; $6M/2 yrs, $2.7M SB.

--DE Israel Idonije: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--CB Tim Jennings: Potential UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

--QB Josh McCown: UFA; $850,000/1 yr, $25,000 SB.

--S Craig Steltz: UFA; $1.64M/2 yrs.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

--RB Michael Bush: UFA Raiders; $14M/4 yrs, $7M guaranteed.

--QB Jason Campbell: UFA Raiders; $3.5M/1 yr, $2M SB.

--LB Blake Costanzo: UFA 49ers; $2M/2 yrs, $400,000 SB.

--WR Brandon Marshall (trade Dolphins).

--WR Devin Thomas: UFA Giants; $700,000/1 yr.

--WR Eric Weems: UFA Falcons; $4.2M/3 yrs, $1,5M guaranteed.

PLAYERS LOST

--NT Anthony Adams (released).

--RB Marion Barber (retired).

--CB Zack Bowman: UFA Vikings; $615,000/1 yr.

--CB Corey Graham: UFA Ravens; $3/7M/2 yrs, $1.2M SB.

--QB Caleb Hanie: UFA Broncos; $1.25M/1 yr.

--S Brandon Meriweather: UFA Redskins; $6M/2 yrs.

--T/G Frank Omiyale (released).

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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