More than 8,000 fans showed up at Olivet Nazarene University for practice tonight and the Chicago Bears defense put on a show. The session began on the regular practice fields, then was switched after an hour to Ward Field, where ONU holds its home games.
Fans packed the stands and witnessed a defensive performance unlike any so far this camp. On the night, the players in blue picked off five passes. If not for the no-contact rule regarding quarterbacks, the defense would have also racked up about 10 sacks. Details below.
Players not dressed for practice: LB J.T. Thomas, DT Anthony Adams, CB Zack Bowman and LB Chris Johnson. Coaches said Bowman's injury is a mild concussion. WR Earl Bennett, who missed yesterday's session, was dressed and on the field tonight.
Right before the evening's festivities began, the Bears announced the release of former-Arizona wide receiver Travis Cobb.
*Reminder: The best way to follow all the Bears action as it happens is to follow my twitter feed @BearReport. I post up-to-date information all day and comment on the practices as they're happening. It's a great way to stay informed.
News and notes from Day 13
-The big news yesterday was the apparent demotion of Caleb Hanie to the third team, and the subsequent promotion of rookie QB Nathan Enderle. Tonight, things were back to normal, with Hanie running the second team again. Yet, if he has another performance like he did just a few hours ago, he'll find himself permanently planted on the third team. Hanie threw three interceptions on the evening and looked uncomfortable in the pocket the entire session. The first pick was by Corey Graham, the second by Craig Steltz (off a Nick Roach tip) and the third landed in the arms of Joshua Moore.
His accuracy was off all night. The pass rush was in his face on the majority of plays but in general, he just didn't seem comfortable throwing the ball. After practice, he said camp wasn't going "great" but that he's happy Martz is so hard on him, as it makes him a better player.
Toward the end of 11-on-11s, Enderle was inserted with the twos. He didn't fare much better but at least he didn't turn the ball over.
-It's hard to say if it was Hanie's bad play that was the main cause of the turnovers or the outstanding performance of the defense as a whole. They were fast and cohesive tonight, with both the front seven and the secondary playing at a very high level. It was the best overall outing for the group since camp began. Barring injury, this unit will be just as good, if not better, than they were last season.
-In 1-on-1 drills, featuring the cornerbacks and wide receivers, CB Antareis Bryan demonstrated why his odds of making the 53-man roster are slim to none. WR Dane Sanzenbacher beat him badly on a double move for a deep TD. A few plays later, camp body Jimmy Young also flew past Bryan. The rookie out of Baylor doesn't show good footwork and is to easily set off balance. Right now, he's fighting for a spot on the practice squad.
CB Joshua Moore
-The 1-on-1 drills heavily favor the receivers, as there is no pressure on the QB and no support from safeties or linebackers. Most of the defensive backs had a hard time, except for Joshua Moore. I spoke yesterday about how well he's progressing and he took another step tonight. Moore worked over Johnny Knox during one rep in 1-on-1s, knocking the receiver to the ground and picking up the interception. He also had a nice knockdown during 11-on-11s on a deep ball to Roy Williams, who has a four-inch height advantage. With Bowman out for the second day in a row, Moore is seizing the opportunity for more playing time. If he continues his hot streak, he could potentially leapfrog Bowman on the depth chart.
-In fighting to earn the fifth and final receiver spot, Dane Sanzenbacher has looked good, but Sam Hurd has looked better. He gets low in his breaks and comes out of them fast, while also catching pretty much everything thrown his way. The coaches are going to have a tough decision to make when it comes cut time but Hurd has the advantage right now, especially with his history as a special-teams standout.
-G Edwin Williams continues to impress. In pass-rush drills, he absolutely worked over DT Marcus Harrison. In 11-on-11s, he drove Harrison back three yards on a run play, opening a wide hole on the left side. He keeps his feet very wide and has a strong upper body, both traits of a good interior lineman.
-Speaking of Harrison, he continues to get reps with the second team. Yet he really hasn't stood out at all. He's playing very hard right now but the results just aren't there. Apparently the coaches see something in him that I don't.
-DE Corey Wootton may be out for a month or longer. As such, Mario Addison was again working with the second team today. He's very inconsistent but that's to be expected from an undrafted rookie. Yet he's shown flashes of playmaking ability. He has a tendency to lean too far on his toes, compromising his balance. On one play, T Josh Davis stepped aside and Addison fell on his face. Yet he had two straight plays, one against Davis and the other against Levi Horn, where he just blew past the blocker. Rod Marinelli was all over him today, which for a rookie is better than him ignoring you, so it's obvious the team thinks he can be a contributor down the line.
-Lance Louis continues to struggle. In 11-on-11s, DT Henry Melton had his way with him. Louis was very glum after his performance on Saturday and it looks like he's carried that over to the practice field. It may only be a matter of time before Chris Spencer is named the starter at center, shifting Garza to right guard and relegating Louis to second-team duties.
-Martz has been getting very creative with his offensive play-calling. Bears media rules won't allow me to go into specifics about what I see on the field but expect to see some things this year you probably have never seen out of a Chicago offense in the past. Come talk to me on the Payton's Place message boards and I'll give you more details.
-S Chris Harris had a strong night, picking off two passes, both diving efforts. He's the most-vocal leader on the team and more often than not, he's backed it up with his play on the field.
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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.