The Chicago Bears finished off their first stretch of training camp practices today. The session wasn't as packed with fans as yesterday but it was still one of the largest crowds I've seen in two years covering the team.
The players now get a day off before resuming practice on Tuesday. Although coach Lovie Smith said the coaches will not be taking a day off.
WR Devin Hester was back on the field today, practicing in full, after missing yesterday's session with a minor ankle injury.
WR Joseph Anderson, who left the field yesterday, was back on it today.
No other players, besides Johnny Knox obviously, were out due to injury.
News and Notes from Day 4
-DE Julius Peppers participated in positional drills but then took the rest of the practice off. I asked Smith afterward if Peppers was just resting, and not injured, and he said they just wanted to give him a day off.
-In his place was Chauncey Davis, who appears to be No. 3 on the depth chart in terms of defensive ends. Davis didn't show very well in pass rushing drills but did a good job setting the edge against the run in team drills.
-Cornerbacks D.J. Moore and Cornelius Browns did nickelback drills with an assistant DB coach during positionals. While it's unlikely Brown will make the final roster, it's interesting to note that he's the only player working as a backup to Moore right now. If Moore goes down, Jonathan Wilhite or Kelvin Hayden would likely slide into the slot role.
-Defensive backs coach Gil Byrd was walking the safeties through their runs keys during positional drills. As he did so, he drilled rookie Brandon Hardin with questions. I was right next to them and it appeared that Hardin answered every question correctly. That's a good sign going forward, as Hardin played solely corner in college.
-Coordinator Mike Tice was not happy with J'Marcus Webb during positional drills. They were working on technique and Tice had Webb repeat one drill three times. After the third rep, Tice just shook his head and walked away. Conversely, Tice seemed pleased with Chris Williams during the same drills.
As such, Williams got the vast majority of the reps with the first team today. During 1-on-1 drills, Williams looked marginally better than Webb. It's still a competition but it look like Williams has a slight edge at this point.
-Harvey Unga again worked as a fullback today during positionals and then followed that up by lining up there during team. He is no longer a ball carrier for the Bears.
-During 11-on-11s, the offense really struggled to move the ball through the air. The secondary was on point all day. There were no official interceptions but the group made a number of nice pass breakups, including strong plays by Moore, Hayden and Wilhite. The offense had gotten the upper hand the last few practices but they were shut down today. They'll need to step up their game next week to avoid getting embarrassed again.
-DE Shea McClellin – who was elevated to the second team yesterday during his best practice of the offseason – was awful today. During 1-on-1s, he wasn't able to get any pressure. On only one of his roughly 10 snaps was he able to get into the backfield. He admitted after practice that he had a bad day. Another poor session could move him back to the third team.
-I'll again reiterate how impressed I am with DE Thaddeus Gibson. He again showed great burst and quickness off the edge. He has arguably performed better than any other player at his position so far in training camp.
-Another player whom I've talked a lot about is RB Armando Allen. He had another strong session today, showing very good field vision when carrying the ball. His small size allows him to hide behind his blockers and sneak through tiny creases.
-T James Brown stood out today. He was dominant in 1-on-1s and did well during team activities as well. He shows a strong hand punch and good balance. In his effort to make the roster, he did himself well today.
-WR Brittan Golden made another very nice play during 11-on-11s. He ran a crossing pattern, undercut the defender and made a fingertip grab. He's easily the most impressive pass catcher on the third team.
-At the end of practice, the third teams squared off in live action. It was the first tackling we've seen since the season finale last year. During that session, QB Matt Blanchard finally redeemed himself. He completed the majority of his passes and was very accurate. His arm strength was not that impressive but he made big strides today.
-The offense ran a ton of bootlegs and play action today. It was nice to see the quarterbacks get out in space and moving. The problem is that most of the bootlegs were naked and almost every time the backside defensive end was in the quarterback's face immediately. Tice will need to tweak those plays but they definitely have potential.
-DT Nate Collins was working with the second team today for the first time. Up until today, John McCargo had assumed the backup 3-technique spot. Collins was very impressive yesterday once the pads went on and apparently the coaches took notice.
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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.