Originally posted on Midway Illustrated  |  Last updated 7/28/12

The Bears finished up their last mandatory practice without pads on Friday.  Today we find out what the rookies are made of for real after two days of showing their stuff without pads.

The two stories that have emerged early on are the play of rookie TE Evan Rodriguez and Alshon Jeffery.  These two rookies have stood out the most, but it's way too early to make any sort of judgment call on how good they can be.

The pads come on and the vets can start to put some hits on the first year players.  From there it's a matter of how they react to being put to the test and from the sound of it the vets are eager to lay some wood.

Devin Hester came up limping during practice twisting his ankle.  Jeffery immediately came in and filled his spot, though it's not a serious injury if the Bears take it slow, then Jeffery has a big opportunity in front of him.  Regardless of Hester's health it is apparent that Jeffery may be the strongest key to the offense this season.

In order to get the balance the Bears desire there is a strong need to have consistent reliable options in the passing game.  Kellen Davis has potential and showed it working out of two TE sets.  Earl Bennett has solid consistent hands, but neither has proven that they can be a play maker on a game to game basis.  Brandon Marshall is the obvious threat, but the Bears need another option otherwise teams will focus solely on stopping Marshall.

On defense the focus is on the defensive line and the health of DT Stephen Paea.  Paea is probably the most complete defensive tackle the Bears have on the roster right now.  Paea is strong and athletic where as Brian Price is strong and Melton is mostly athletic.  Paea has the change to emerge and really push for playing time as a starter.

The pads go on it will be time for Paea to step in and win a starting job.  No knock on Matt Toeaina, but the time is now for the young Paea to full grab the opportunity in front of him.

The next big move, time to see what we have in Shea McClellin.  McClellin was on special teams and got a pressure on Jason Campbell from this third team  DE spot.  Now with the pads  coming on McClellin needs to elevate his game and prove why he was worth the 19th overall selection.

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