The Chicago Bears cut practice short by about 30 minutes today to let the players get an early start on their summer vacation. The group will be off for six weeks and won't convene until July 26 for training camp in Bourbonnais. Here is what we saw from the sidelines during this afternoon's session.
-Backup quarterback Jason Campbell continues to underwhelm. After the club signed him, GM Phil Emery touted Campbell's arm strength, something he said every quarterback needs in order to be successful in the Windy City.
Yet I'm still yet to see that arm strength.
Even in positional drills, where Jay Cutler is firing balls that leave trails of smoke, Campbell is lobbing in passes on timing routes. At no point have I really seen him let one fly, which is worrisome.
QB Jason Campbell
David Banks/US Presswire
Even more concerning is his strong tendency toward the check-down pass. Campbell so far appears frightened to move the ball down the field, while Cutler is slinging deep on every other pass attempt. And on the few occasions where Campbell does take a shot into the secondary, he's almost always off target.
He's a former starter with plenty of experience in this league. As a backup, he's about as good as it gets. Yet, from what he's shown so far this offseason, he appears to be nothing more than a very good game manager. It's doubtful that, if called into duty, he'll implode like Caleb Hanie, but he's also not going to light up the scoreboard.
-The left tackle competition between J'Marcus Webb and Chris Williams rages on. The two are splitting reps with the starters, as well as the backups, evenly.
On Tuesday, Williams took reps in each drill before Webb. Yesterday, Webb was up first. And today, Williams was back taking the first reps. I expect that rotation to continue. When it doesn't, and one player begins getting the first reps consistently, we'll have a good idea of which way coordinator Mike Tice is leaning.
-In 1-on-1 drills today, Charles Tillman again worked over Brandon Marshall. Tillman stymied the receiver on nearly every pass attempt, picking off two passes in a row at one point. During 11-on-11 drills, Tillman stripped Kellen Davis, just ripping the ball right out of the tight end's hands.
Coach Lovie Smith said yesterday that players coming off Pro Bowl seasons tend to enter the following campaign with a lot of energy. So far, that appears to be the case with Tillman, who does not look at all like a player on the wrong side of 30.
-Undrafted rookie James Brown, working at right guard with the twos, was put through some light hazing this afternoon before walkthroughs. The offense, including Tice, huddled around Brown, who had to do a 20-second dance in front of his new teammates. Everyone was laughing. Teambuilding at its best.
-DE Israel Idonije did not participate in 11-on-11 drills, although it's unclear the reason. He didn't appear to be injured during positional drills.
In his place, the team inserted Chauncey Davis, then rotated Corey Wootton later on. First rounder Shea McClellin was bumped to the second team, after taking most of his reps with the third team this week.
It appears Davis is the frontrunner right now for the team's third defensive end job. Although I still expect McClellin to earn that title by the end of training camp.
-During 11-on-11 drills, the defense ran a few zone blitzes. On each occasion, a defensive end dropped into coverage. On the first zone blitz, Julius Peppers dropped into the short zone. The second time, Chauncey Davis was the coverage player. Davis did a very good job keeping pace with the running back. He showed well as a run stopper last year, so it's good to see Davis can also hold his own athletically in coverage.
TE Kellen Davis
-Tight end Kellen Davis, who missed most of organized training activities (OTAs) has been fairly nonexistent so far this offseason. Yet today he was very good.
Davis was targeted repeatedly during 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s, making a number of very nice catches in traffic. When the team ran red zone 7-on-7s, Cutler looked Davis' way more than anyone else, with Davis hauling in multiple touchdowns. It was good to see the team's starting tight end finally show up this year. We'll see if he can carry that over into camp.
-CB Tim Jennings had another strong day. During 7-on-7s, he made two straight strong plays on deep passes, one of which was against Marshall on a jump ball. Jennings has performed well each of the last three days and was easily the MVP of veteran minicamp.
-The team waived G Mansfield Wrotto this morning. Wrotto, signed late last season, was working with the starters at right tackle in place of the then-injured Gabe Carimi during the first week of OTAs. It's obviously been a rough ride since, which led to his release.
-Since I first saw Nathan Enderle throw a pass in last year's training camp, I knew it would be tough road for him in the NFL. He struggled all of last year, which carried over into this offseason. His arms strength, accuracy and decision making just are not NFL caliber.
As such, it wasn't surprising to find out after practice that the club has waived Enderle. We wish him the best in his career.
…and the countdown to training camp begins.
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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.