Bears veteran minicamp review (Day 2)

What we saw from the sidelines at Halas Hall during the second of three practice sessions that encompass the mandatory veteran minicamp for the Chicago Bears.

The Chicago Bears this afternoon conducted a spirited session on the practice fields of Halas Hall. The second veteran minicamp practice is now in the books. Here's what we saw from the sidelines.

-The following players did not practice: LB Brian Urlacher, WR Johnny Knox, TE Matt Spaeth, LB Patrick Trahan, LB Thaddeus Gibson and CB Jonathan Wilhite.

Urlacher was seen doing sprints as well as pulling the sled. Based on the way he's moving right now, he should be ready to go come training camp.

-Alshon Jeffery, held out of practice yesterday, participated in practice today, albeit on a limited basis. He went through the positional drills and 1-on-1s but sat out the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 portions of practice. At the end of the session, he was walking with a noticeable limp.

WR Alshon Jeffery
Jerry Lai/US Presswire

Jeffery continues to lose valuable repetitions this offseason. He left the first rookie minicamp practice with a right calf cramp and hasn't been the same since. The club wants him to be a starter but the more time he misses, the less likely that is to happen. He needs to get his leg healthy by the time training camp rolls around or he'll end up buried on the depth chart this season.

-D.J. Moore, as he has done in every practice session I've seen this offseason, put in individual work with defensive coach Mikal Smith. Yet also included in the individual work was Jeremy Jones, who played safety for Wayne State.

Jones was signed as an undrafted free agent shortly after the draft ended. Moore is the club's starting nickelback but Jones was getting all the reps with the second team at nickelback. This is a roster loaded with quality corners, so it's notable when the team decides to insert a rookie safety into that role.

-The linebackers and running backs squared off today in 1-on-1 drills. Notable was the rock hands of fullback Tyler Clutts. Clutts was able to get open on a number of occasions but dropped every pass. While he's a quality lead blocker, he is not a threat as a pass catcher.

Draylen Ross, a former tight end, has been practicing as a fullback all offseason. He has much better hands that Clutts, which leads me to believe Ross will make a strong push for the starting fullback job. If he can learn how to lead into the hole, he could put Clutts out on the street.

-TE Brandon Venson has arguably the best hands of any tight end on the team. He catches every pass thrown in his area. Yet he lumbers. He lacks any semblance of speed, which is most likely the reason he went undrafted. But based on hands alone, Venson is an NFL player. He could be a valuable member of the practice squad.

-S Craig Steltz looked really good in 1-on-1s. He showed good recognition and change of direction. During one rep, he made a great play on a deep ball but dropped the interception. He proceeded to grab the ball and chuck it at the game clock that times each practice. He ended up breaking the clock, eliciting shouts of "fine" from his teammates.

-RB Harvey Unga did not show good hands in 1-on-1 drills. The odds of him making the team at this point are slim to none.

TE Evan Rodriguez
Jerry Lai/US Presswire

-The two players that were most impressive in 1-on-1 drills were TE Evan Rodriguez and LB Dom DeCicco. Rodriguez doesn't have ideal size or speed but this kid runs really tight routes and has outstanding hands. Not only that, he excels at catching the ball in traffic. During 1-on-1s, he made a number of difficult catches with defenders on top of him. He's the fourth tight end on the squad right now but if he continues on his current pace, he'll quickly move up the depth chart this offseason.

DeCicco is one of the best athletes on this team. He has ideal size, speed and quickness. He was a safety in college but his pure athleticism has helped him make the transition to linebacker. In 1-on-1 drills, he knocked down a number of pass attempts and even picked up an interception. Considering his value on special teams, he appears to be a lock to make the club this year.

-The difference in size between safeties Chris Conte and Brandon Hardin is stark. Conte is a tall, slim player that looks like a strong gust of wind might knock him over. Yet Hardin is a beast. He's rock solid and huge. When the pads go on, I expect him to be very impressive. If that happens, expect him to challenge Conte for playing time at some point this season.

-The team conducted two-minute drills today. The first teams lined up for the drill and on the first snap, QB Jay Cutler tried to hit WR Devin Hester deep down the sideline. S Major Wright cut underneath the route and picked off the ball, returning it for a touchdown. The entire defense then went ballistic, cheering each other off the field. Wright also had an interception during 7-on-7s and has looked very good during these first two practices.

Day 1 minicamp review

Day 3 minicamp review

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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