It's finally over.
The past three weeks have been amazing and I feel very fortunate to have been on the sidelines for each and every Chicago Bears practice. There isn't a player on this team I'm not familiar with, which gives me a solid base for my analysis the rest of the season.
For those interested, here are a few fun facts about my time in Bourbonnais:
Subway is my friend, and at times has been my best and only friend. My dorm room, though, hasn't been so friendly. Because of the heat, my room's door doesn't close without giving it a good push. I did so on my first night here and then couldn't get the door back open. I had to remove the screen from my back window and crawl through a 2x2 opening to get out of the room.
My air conditioner is lazy; it only works when it wants to. My wireless connection is even lazier.
Because it's my first time, I parked in the wrong lot for the first two weeks, which was a 10-minute walk from the dorms, when there is another lot right behind my building. I forgot to bring my belt back with me for this past week, which has been a blast. And housekeeping woke me up every day bright and early at 8 a.m.
Finally, on my first day here, I was so jacked to talk to Gabe Carimi that the first thing I blurted out was, "What was it like to go up against Julius Peppers?" He looked at me funny and said, "Well, I haven't faced him yet but I'll let you know when I do." (He was with the second team that first day.)
So it hasn't been all fun and games, but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.
Injuries: LB Lance Briggs (knee) was nowhere to be found today, same for DE Corey Wootton (knee). DT Anthony Adams (calf) was still out, as was CB Zack Bowman (concussion) and TE Desmond Clark. LB Brian Urlacher and WR Devin Hester both practiced in full.
News and notes from Day 16
-LT J'Marcus Webb left practice halfway through on a golf cart with the trainers. Coach Lovie Smith said he wasn't feeling well due to the (ridiculously oppressive) heat. He should be fine. Frank Omiyale filled in with the starters after that. Let's just say, it wasn't pretty.
CB Corey Graham
-CB Corey Graham has solidified himself as the dime back. He had a really nice day, which included an interception off QB Caleb Hanie in 7-on-7s.
-LB Brian Iwuh was inserted into the starting lineup with Briggs out. He's an athletic guy but just doesn't have the instincts to play the position. It seems like he wants to hit someone so badly that he won't allow himself the patience to let a play develop. If the game ever slows down for him, he could be a quality linebacker.
-Up to this point. I hadn't seen C Chris Spencer do much of anything wrong. He's been solid in both run and pass blocking. Today though, in rush drills, DT Tank Tyler absolutely plowed over Spencer off the ball, knocking him into the running back. Spencer's lack of upper body strength is very evident, yet he's so fundamentally sound that it'll be hard for him to remain the backup.
-Carimi was once again destroying people in the run game. He pulled and trapped on one play and sent Iwuh flying. It elicited an "ooooh yeah" from offensive line coach Mike Tice.
-DE Mario Addison, working with the second team in place of Wootton, can get to the quarterback but he's a liability against the run.
-One thing that hit me today: Offensive coordinator Mike Martz never gets on Jay Cutler. He rides Caleb Hanie like Hanie is his custom chopper but never once did I see him even so much as raise his voice to Cutler.
-In those same 7-on-7s, Cutler lobbed a fade pass to TE Kellen Davis in the back of the end zone. The big man used his soft hands to make the over-the-shoulder grab, even with LB Dom DeCicco all over him. Davis's size is too much for one man to handle.
-Since being demoted to the third team, T Josh Davis has completely lost any drive he might have had to make the roster. He made mental and physical mistakes play after play today. I don't see him making it past the first cuts.
-Just when you think you have WR Roy Williams figured out, he has an outstanding day like today. He caught everything thrown his way and looked much more comfortable in the offense. There may be hope for him yet. (He also, in the middle of practice, walked over and handed his gloves to a young kid in the crowd. I haven't seen any other Bears player do that.)
-FB Will Ta'ufo'ou just doesn't have the burst through the hole to be an NFL fullback. Eddie Williams is entrenched as the team's starter.
-G Johan Asiata might be the slowest guard on the team. Time after time he has difficulty pulling and often is so slow, the running back beats him to the hole.
-DE Nick Reed had a good day. He made Omiyale look silly on a series of plays during pass-rush drills and had a very nice run stuff in 11-on-11s.
-Finally, during two-minute drills, WR Johnny Knox worked an out-and-up double move. Both the cornerback, Joshua Moore, and safety, Chris Conte, bit on the move. Conte has a tendency to do this and has given up a number of deep passes. Moore has been much better this past week but was completely fooled on this play. Knox streaked down the sideline with no one around him. Hanie threw a perfect pass … and Knox dropped it. He then kicked the ball and dropped about six straight F-bombs. That pretty much sums up Knox's entire camp
**I'll be getting you guys plenty of stuff this weekend, but FYI, I'll be taking it easy the next few days. I haven't had a day off in over a month and I'm in need of a little rest and relaxation. You're going to be overloaded with content on Monday. Until then, have a great weekend everyone.**
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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.