It was a hot one today at Chicago Bears training camp in Bourbonnais, Ill. On the campus of Olivet Nazarene University, Bears players, coaches and fans packed the practice field for a scorching two-and-a-half-hour session.
The big news today is that the team's longtime center, Olin Kreutz, will not be returning to Chicago. His agent indicated as much yesterday and it was made official today that talks have been called off.
A few new faces were on hand for practice today, including recently signed cornerback Corey Graham. Graham is one of 12 free-agent players the club signed this week. Per rules of the collective bargaining agreement, said players won't be allowed to practice until Thursday, Aug. 4.
The two Bears players signed last night, former-Texans defensive tackle Amobi Okoye and former-Cowboys running back Marion Barber, were not on the field today. Sources say they will be on the sidelines tomorrow.
Notes from Day 2
T Gabe Carimi
Dennis Wierzbicki/US Presswire
-Yesterday, rookie offensive tackle Gabe Carimi participated solely with the second unit at left tackle. Such was the case during the first portion of practice today, yet during 11-on-11s, offensive line coach Mike Tice inserted Carimi into the right tackle spot with the first team for a handful of plays. T J'Marcus Webb subsequently moved to right tackle. Carimi had some trouble with DE Julius Peppers, which is understandable. In general though, he looked a little slow off the ball and tentative. If that's where Tice plans on playing him, it's going to take Carimi a good number of reps to get comfortable on the right side.
-In the last set of plays for the first group during 11-on-11s, Webb played left tackle and Frank Omiyale slide to right tackle. The offensive line is very fluid right now, so expect Tice to continue tinkering with the personnel.
-Tight end Kellen Davis has been getting first-team reps the first two days of practice. His performance has been off and on so far. Yesterday, he looked great beating linebacker J.T. Thomas on a 30-yard seam pass. Yet today he looked tired, even going so far as to drop a pass in positional drills – a rarity for a contributing professional. It will be interesting to see what role Davis plays once new addition Matt Spaeth is cleared to practice. Up to this point, Mike Martz hasn't called up a play with more than two receivers, with most including two tight ends – the other being undrafted free agent Kyle Adams out of Purdue. My guess is Spaeth and Davis will be the two on the field in double-tight-end sets, although neither is likely to accomplish much through the air in Martz's offense.
-The signing of Marion Barber most likely means five of the six running backs on the field today – Chester Taylor, Harvey Unga, Robert Hughes, Khalil Bell and Dan Dierking – are most likely battling for the third running back spot on the roster. Yet that is typically given to the runner who shows the most on special teams, not in the backfield. It's the reason Garrett Wolfe stuck with the team so long despite never producing as a runner. Unga again demonstrated today his soft hands in positional drills but he's not a special teams standout, which means his time with Chicago may soon be over.
-Along with Devin Hester, the players returning kicks in the special-teams portion of practice were D.J. Moore and Travis Cobb, a UFA from Arizona. Former Ohio State receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, who returned kicks yesterday, was not in that position today.
-During special-teams drills, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli put in a good 10 minutes of extra time working with defensive tackles Tank Tyler and rookie Stephen Paea on the sidelines. Both have been working with the second team, yet neither has shown much in the 11-on-11 drills. Tyler has had a hard time keeping his feet once he makes contact in the trenches. He'll need to work on his balance if he's going to make the 53-man roster.
-Also during special teams practice – which seemed to go on forever – Tice walked his offensive linemen through the first steps in zone blocking schemes. Expect to see more zone blocks in the offense's second year under coordinator Mike Martz.
QB Nathan Enderle
Dennis Wierzbicki/US Presswire
-Rookie quarterback Nathan Enderle looked better today. Yesterday, his form often broke down, causing many of his passes to fall short. Today, he was crisp in his throws. Yet he still insists on throwing into traffic during 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s, presumably because he thinks he can use his canon of an arm to fit the ball in tight windows. He'll need to continue working on his field vision if he's to avoid becoming the next Rex Grossman.
-Rookie tight end Andre Smith, Virginia Tech, fumbled the ball after catching a crossing pattern over the middle – an unforgivable mistake. He also had a ball go off his hands in 7-on-7s that was subsequently intercepted by Chris Harris. He might as well pack his bags now.
-On two straight plays during 7-on-7s, the defense tipped away a Jay Cutler pass attempt. The first tip came from safety Chris Harris, one of the most vocal players on the practice field. The second tip was by linebacker Lance Briggs, who said after the play, "I would've caught that if it wasn't a laser beam."
-Safeties Major Wright and Chris Conte were both beat deep on separate plays in 7-on-7 drills. Conte can often look a little lost in coverage but he breaks on the ball well on underneath routes. He looks like he's chomping at the bit to get the pads on. We'll keep an eye on his physical play going forward.
-Andy Fantuz couldn't bring in a tough grab on a post pattern during 11-on-11 drills. It was the first pass in two days that hit his hands and he didn't catch. As it looks right now, he'll be fighting for the fifth receiver spot with newly signed Sam Hurd, who won't practice until this Thursday.
-In place of recently signed Nick Roach, who will have to wait until Aug. 4 to get on the practice field, rookie linebacker J.T. Thomas worked with the starters today for the second day in a row. He again looked confused in coverage and allowed a deep completion to Devin Hester over the middle of the field. It's obvious he isn't comfortable defending the pass, which could preclude him from seeing the field this year on defense.
-Thomas' performance in 11-on-11s forced linebackers coach Bob Babich to substitute in second-year player Patrick Trahan. He did not fare much better. Nick Roach can't get back fast enough.
-Quarterback Jay Cutler did not complete a single pass of more than 30 yards during either 7-on-7s or 11-on-11s.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.