Today's practice was the first after the Chicago Bears players and coaches had a chance to study the film from last Saturday's preseason game against the Buffalo Bills. A few players were shuffled around due to injury and one was demoted due to poor performance.
Players not practicing: WR Earl Bennett, LB Chris Johnson, DE Corey Wootton, DT Anthony Adams and CB Zack Bowman. Bowman said at lunch he was ready to practice but coach Lovie Smith said after practice he was held out as a precautionary measure. The same went for Bennett. Adams was not in a boot but was limping noticeably.
News and notes from Day 12
-The biggest story today revolves around the apparent demotion of backup quarterback Caleb Hanie. Rookie Nathan Enderle took every single rep with the second team today. I don't think Hanie ever even got a chance to throw a pass.
QB Caleb Hanie
This offseason, coordinator Mike Martz refused to give Hanie a vote of confidence, despite his play in the NFC Championship, and the team wound up drafting Enderle in the fifth round of this year's draft. Smith said that, after watching the film of Saturday's game, he realized Hanie had a much poorer game than the coaches originally thought. He said it wasn't a demotion but that the coaches wanted to get Enderle more reps.
That's tough to swallow, as Enderle received a ton of reps during the first week of camp when Hanie couldn't practice due to new CBA regulations. Enderle looked like his head was swimming that week and was uncomfortable in the pocket. Only when Hanie returned did Enderle's reps drastically reduce. He has had plenty of work this offseason, so to me this looks a demotion pure and simple.
Enderle was decent today and wasn't staring down his receivers like he did earlier in training camp. It was his best day of practice so far.
Hanie stormed off the field, telling reporters he wasn't talking today. From the looks of it, Martz's pet project has jumped Hanie on the depth chart … for now.
-The news of Wootton possibly missing four weeks with a knee injury opens the door for some of the younger defensive ends. Vernon Gholston will likely be called upon more as the third man in the DE rotation. He played well in the preseason matchup and looked better in practice today than he has all offseason. He made some nice, physical plays against the run and got pressure on the quarterback more than once. His pass-rush moves are still basic and repetitive, but he overcomes that with his strength.
Mario Addison, an undrafted free agent out of Troy, was promoted to the second team in place of Wootton. He played mostly the right side, with Gholston switching to the left side. In line drills, Addison blew past Josh Davis two plays in a row and went right past Levi Horn on another play. Coordinator Rod Marinelli was all over Addison about getting off the ball quicker but his overall performance today was impressive.
DE Nick Reed also has a chance to capitalize on increased playing time. In line drills, his quick stutter step caused Frank Omiyale to lose his balance and Reed drive him right on his back. Both Addison and Reed look like they realize the opportunity in from of them and are ready for the challenge.
-Corey Graham was the starting cornerback with the second team, replacing the injured Zack Bowman. Graham was hot and cold, getting a good knockdown on one play and burned for a touchdown on another.
On the other side of the field, Joshua Moore had a phenomenal day. In 11-on-11 drills, Moore had four pass breakups by my count, many on deep balls. He wasn't allowing receivers behind him and was going after the ball. With Bowman out, Moore is line for starting reps should either Charles Tillman or Tim Jennings get injured. His performance today was very encouraging.
-WR Roy Williams has looked lethargic, almost uninterested, every practice since coming over from Dallas. Yet today, Williams looked like the 2006 version of himself. He had three nice catches during 11-on-11s, each difficult grabs in traffic. If he can stay focused, it's obvious he still has enough talent to be the team's No. 1 wideout.
RB Marion Barber
Dennis Wierzbicki/US Presswire
-Another former-Cowboys receiver, Sam Hurd, also had a big day today. He made multiple difficult catches, laying out for one near the sideline. His motor never quits and he goes all out every play. In 11-on-11s, he got reps as the third receiver with the first team in place of Bennett, with Johnny Knox staying at the split end spot with the second group.
-Speaking of Knox, he looked distracted today. He made some uncharacteristic drops and just didn't seem to have his head together. His demotion could be affecting more than it first seemed.
-If Frank Omiyale's pass protection issues weren't enough to keep him on the second team, his constant false starts will. In team drills, he false started on nearly every pass play.
-Middle linebacker Dom DeCicco is running with the second team. He made some very good plays on Saturday and seemed to build on that performance today. Too often he gets lost in the interior wash but when he properly diagnoses a play, he has the athleticism and pure speed to run down ball carriers. In college, he played safety at Pittsburgh, so some growing pains are to be expected with him learning a new position. Yet his pure talent gives him a ton of potential for the future.
A good sign for DeCicco came during special teams drills, where he was lined up with the first-team kick return squad. The way onto an NFL roster for any undrafted rookie is through special teams. Coordinator Dave Toub has inserted him into a starting unit, which greatly increases chances of making the roster.
-FB Eddie Williams likes to hit. He had some nice blocks in the Bills game and today he laid a vicious hit on LB Patrick Trahan. He looks like he'll be a valued part of the offense as a lead blocker.
-There were no personnel changes to the starting offensive line, despite the unit's poor performance Saturday. On the second line though, Levi Horn has been moved to right tackle from right guard, replacing Josh Davis, who was awful in the Bills game. Johan Asiata has been promoted from the third team to play right guard with the second unit.
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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.