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updated: 8/2/2014 8:45 PM

Several Bears' backup battles coming into focus

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  • Rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller, here chasing down running back Matt Forte during minicamp in June, has been getting valuable time with the first team as starter Tim Jennings recovers from a quad injury.

    Rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller, here chasing down running back Matt Forte during minicamp in June, has been getting valuable time with the first team as starter Tim Jennings recovers from a quad injury.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer


BOURBONNAIS -- Just past the halfway point in training camp, some of the Bears' position battles for backup roles are beginning to shake out.

Marquess Wilson appears destined to be the No. 3 wide receiver, veteran Trevor Scott is a strong contender for the No. 4 defensive end spot, and rookie Kyle Fuller is establishing himself as a reliable third cornerback.

Wilson seems to make a big reception in nearly every practice. The 6-foot-4, 184-pounder displayed some of his skills Friday by leaping over cornerback Kelvin Hayden and high-pointing a Jay Cutler pass, snagging the ball at its highest elevation, where few DBs are capable of reaching.

Wilson is much more comfortable than a year ago when he was a raw 20-year-old who was drafted in the seventh-round as a project.

The project is now running right on schedule.

"He's still competing for that (No. 3) position, and he's in the lead right now," coach Marc Trestman said. "We're still going to look closely at each and every guy and let the training camp and the preseason make that decision for us."

Although he played sparingly last year, Wilson acquired some valuable experience and was able to learn the offense. He enjoyed a productive off-season, including an invitation to train with fellow wideouts Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery near Marshall's South Florida home.

"His conditioning level is better," Trestman said. "He's bigger now. Believe it or not, he's thicker, and there's more girth to him now than there was a year ago.

"And he knows the offense. He's highly intelligent. We can play him at any (receiver) position, which increases his value to our football team if Brandon or Alshon were -- heaven forbid -- to go down. Right now, he's on track to be the third. But we're still working with the other guys to make sure that we get it right."

Scott is looking to recapture and refine the pass-rush skills that helped him accumulate 12 sacks in his first two years in the league after he was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the sixth round out of Buffalo.

But in 2010 he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee and has just 3 sacks in the three years since, playing one more season with the Raiders and one each with the New England Patriots and last year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The 6-5, 260-pound Scott has been one of the stars of 1-on-1, full-speed, full-contact pass-rush drills. But he has a long way to go to earn a spot in the Bears' new-look DE rotation behind starters Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston and Willie Young. None of those four were with the Bears last season.

Scott's competition is coming from David Bass and Austen Lane. Bass played in 12 games for the Bears last season as a rookie, after he was cut by the Raiders, even though they drafted him in the seventh round.

Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker likes Scott's versatility and his ability to play special teams and set the edge against the run, in addition to his pass-rushing skills. But the 29-year-old Scott knows he's in for a fight.

"I don't feel comfortable at all," he said. "I feel like as soon as you start to get comfortable you lose your edge. I take it one day at a time and go full speed when I get in there.

"You just have to bring your lunch pail every day and go to work."

Because starting cornerback Tim Jennings has been hobbled by a quad injury for most of camp, Fuller has been getting more work than expected with the first team, which means he has daily encounters with Pro Bowlers Marshall and Jeffery.

"It's a test," Tucker said. "You can't take a play off; it's like sharpening steel. We should be making each other better. Definitely you have to bring your 'A' game when you go against our offense."

Fuller had a diving interception on the first 11-on-11 series of the first practice and added a second pick later in the day. Despite being schooled by Jeffery from time to time, Fuller will continue to get plenty of opportunities to become the extra cornerback on the field in nickel situations.

Expect to see him there on opening day, although veteran Hayden remains in the mix, and 2012 sixth-round pick Isaiah Frey is in the competition as well, after getting experience at that position last year.

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