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5 players to watch in OTA practices
May 22, 2017 03:49 PM | Larry Mayer
The Bears begin the third and final phase of their offseason program Monday when they conduct the first of 10 OTA practices. With that in mind, here are five players to watch:

1) Quarterback Mike Glennon

The Bears signed Glennon in free agency March 10 to be their No. 1 quarterback and remain committed to the fifth-year pro as the starter even after trading up to select North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky with the second overall pick in the draft.

Glennon has been studying the playbook since the offseason program started April 18 and will have his first opportunity to transfer what he's learned in the classroom to the field in OTAs in terms of his grasp of the offense. Teammates and coaches have been impressed with Glennon's leadership, but the practices will give him his first chance to begin developing cohesiveness with a wide receiver group that includes free-agent acquisitions Markus Wheaton and Kendall Wright.

It will also be interesting to hear what Glennon has to say Tuesday when he speaks to the media for the first time since the Bears selected Trubisky in the draft.

2) Receiver Kevin White

Bears wide receiver Kevin White has suffered serious leg injuries in each of his first two NFL seasons. After suffering serious leg injuries in each of his first two NFL seasons, White is determined to get back onto the field and show that he still possesses the explosiveness and speed the Bears saw when they selected him with the seventh overall pick in the 2015 draft.

White, who has been limited to just four games in two years, hasn't shown any lingering effects of his injuries while participating in the first two phases of the offseason program.

"I haven't seen anything that would worry me," said offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. "The way he works, his attitude, you see the traits that we drafted him with. We're excited about getting him healthy and getting him into a 16-game season.

"He's done a good job out here in the offseason program and it really is as simple as getting comfortable and getting healthy and learning the offense and learning the new wrinkles we've put in and doing a good job with that stuff."

3) Tight end Dion Sims

An under-the-radar free-agent signing, Sims has impressed the Bears during the first five weeks of the offseason program and could be in line to start at the tight end position this season. It's clear how much the Bears value Sims given that they signed him to a lucrative contract on the second day of free agency along with Glennon and receiver Markus Wheaton.

Sims' first chance to impress as a pass catcher will come in OTAs; his blocking ability will be better tested when the pads come on in training camp. The 6-5, 262-pounder joins the Bears after spending his first four seasons with the Dolphins after being selected by Miami in the fourth round of the 2013 draft out of Michigan State.

Sims, who set career highs with 26 receptions and four touchdowns last season, will be challenged at the position by veteran Zach Miller and second-round pick Adam Shaheen.

4) Safety Quintin Demps

The Bears signed the veteran safety to help solidify a young and inexperienced secondary that has struggled mightily generating takeaways. Demps had six interceptions last season with the Texans, only two fewer than the Bears had as a team in 2016.

The Bears are hoping that Demps not only will help get the ball back for the offense but also mentor a plethora of young prospects in the secondary. Four players who were selected by the Bears in the last two drafts will get reps at safety this offseason: 2016 picks Deon Bush, Deiondre' Hall and DeAndre Houston-Carson and 2017 selection Eddie Jackson.

Demps himself is a late bloomer; he didn't make his first NFL start until his sixth season in the league with the Chiefs in 2013 and has recorded 15 of his 18 career picks the past four years. The Bears need him to be a stabilizing force in the secondary this season.

5) Linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski

After showing promise as a rookie last season, the 2016 fourth-round draft pick no doubt will gain valuable experience while lining up with the starting unit at inside linebacker in OTAs in place of veteran Danny Trevathan, who continues to recover from a serious knee injury.

Kwiatkoski missed valuable time last summer when he suffered a hamstring injury on the third day of training camp and was sidelined for four weeks. So every rep he gets in offseason practices is extremely important. He made big strides over the course of last season, ultimately finishing his rookie year with 52 tackles, five tackles-for-loss and one sack.

Kwiatkoski no doubt will benefit from playing next to veteran inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman. But the West Virginia product must take another step this year for the defense to excel.

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