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Bears' Webb has early lead for job at left tackle

Bears running back Matt Forte walks to the field during training camp at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais on July 26. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

BOURBONNAIS – Hall of Fame coach John Madden sought relief from the sun Wednesday by walking underneath a canvas tent by the Bears’ practice field.

Madden, 76, had started his day by watching the Green Bay Packers before boarding his famous cruiser and heading south to Olivet Nazarene University. He peered through the shade as the Bears lined up for full-team drills near the end of practice.

The Bears looked good, Madden said. Then again, almost every NFL team looked good as they took part in routine drills during the first week of training camp.

Who could argue with one of football’s most iconic figures?

One week remains until the Bears’ first preseason game Aug. 9 against the Denver Broncos, and more than five weeks remain until the Bears’ regular-season opener Sept. 9 against the Indianapolis Colts. It would be foolish to declare final answers about the team and its players so soon, but here are a few early impressions.

• If you believe the eye test, third-year offensive lineman J’Marcus Webb is the leading candidate to protect Jay Cutler’s blind side as the Bears’ starting left tackle. Webb has done well during one-on-one pass-rushing drills and received plenty of repetitions with the first team, which could bump Chris Williams to backup duty.

• Bears running back Matt Forte is grumpy, and that might be a good thing for the team.

Forte has waved off some interviews and muttered through others, possibly because he still is angry about media criticism during his contract dispute. Add that anger to a muscle-packed frame, and Forte could have another Pro Bowl season.

• Defensive end Shea McClellin, the Bears’ first-round pick this spring, has improved since his first practice but still has a long way to go to become a major contributor. Too often, McClellin has been manhandled in one-on-one drills against bigger, stronger offensive linemen. Israel Idonije’s starting job appears to be safe.

• This will sound especially strange after last season, but it’s true: If Jay Cutler misses a game or two this season, it might not be that big of a deal to the Bears. Backup quarterback Jason Campbell consistently has made great throws throughout the first week of camp, and he could step in to help win games if necessary.

Bears bits: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell visited Bears practice and was asked again about the possibility of Chicago hosting a Super Bowl. “Let’s see how it works [in New York in 2014], and we’ll make some evaluations from there,” Goodell said. “We do believe football should be played in the elements, so we’re excited about it.” … Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher did not practice because of a sore knee, but coach Lovie Smith said the soreness was not serious. Wide receiver Eric Weems also did not practice.


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