The Chicago Bears just finished up the first training camp practice of the new week, a session that baked all participants under a relentless sun. If you are coming down to Bourbonnais this week, be sure to bring sunscreen.
During 11-on-11 drills, CB Charles Tillman tripped up WR Devin Hester, propelling the wideout to the ground. Hester hopped up fine but later got treatment from the trainers on his left leg and hip area. He appeared to be fine though.
News and Notes from Day 5
-The best player on the field today was CB Tim Jennings. During the team portions of practice, he picked up two pass breakups as well as an interception. The pick came against WR Brandon Marshall, with Jennings undercutting the receiver and being physical against a much larger player.
This is a great sign from Jennings, who has been lagging so far in camp. After shining during OTAs and veteran minicamp this offseason, Jennings hasn't stood out so far during camp. Marshall especially has made Jennings repeatedly look foolish, yet not today.
Jennings has Kelvin Hayden breathing down his neck for the starting gig, as well as Jonathan Wilhite, who also scored an interception today. Yet coach Lovie Smith singled out Jennings after practice for his strong outing. He apparently has reclaimed a firmer grasp on the starting role.
-The worst player on the field was newly acquired DT Brian Price. In his first positional drill with his new team, Price weaved through the dummies and then fell flat on his face. After his next trip through the bags, he was noticeably winded and had to stop and put his hands on his knees.
Remember, Price had difficulty passing his physical in Tampa Bay, one of the many reasons the Bucs were looking to unload him.
Things got even worse during pass-rush drills. In his first rep against C Edwin Williams, Price was stonewalled. Williams finished the block and Price took exception. The two swung each other around, bordering on a full-blown wrestling match. Coaches and teammates had to step in.
Again, this isn't the first time Price has quarreled with a teammate – he got into a fistfight this offseason with a Bucs teammate during a team meeting – although I didn't expect to see him nearly come to blows after his first contact rep.
On the next snap, Price was again dominated. He got one more snap later on in that drill and he was beat again. During 11-on-11s, he was on the field for one snap that I saw. During that rep, third stringer Nick Pieschel buried Price into the ground.
I did not see an ounce of quickness out of Price, or any semblance of a pass-rush maneuver. He lumbered off the ball with horrible balance and attempted nothing more than a bull rush. I'm willing to chalk it up to nerves but if he doesn't quickly show improvement, he may not even make it through next week.
Paea is the more talented of the two players and is day-and-night quicker off the ball than Toeaina. It's unclear yet whether this is a permanent move or a one-time thing; I'll ask coordinator Rod Marinelli tomorrow. But this move is not surprising to me in the least and I expect Paea to emerge from camp as the starter.
-The team engaged in live-action goal line drills today. It was an explosive affair. For the most part, the defense won out. Harvey Unga lumbered in for a touchdown out of the fullback spot, while Kahlil Bell also scored on a pretty dive over the top of the pile. Other than that, the defense dominated.
I filmed the entire session from the back of the end zone and will be cutting up those videos today and tomorrow for you guys to watch.
-During positional drills, WR Brandon Marshall ran an out pattern and, for no apparent reason, chose to catch the ball with one hand. The pigskin stuck as if Marshall was wearing Velcro gloves.
-WR Devin Thomas, who is fighting for a roster spot as the team's sixth wide receiver, was getting a lot of love from receivers coach Darryl Drake during positionals. Thomas has been fairly invisible on offense so far, so it was a good sign for him that Drake was taking notice.
-J'Marcus Webb took every single snap with the first team at left tackle. Chris Willliams worked exclusively with the second team. Coordinator Mike Tice said afterward that he is rotating the two players every day, yet this is the first time one of them has taken all of the first-team reps. Don't read too much into this just yet but it's an interesting development.
-At the end of positional drills, quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates had Cutler work on swing screens to receivers out of the slot. Basically, the slot receiver swings toward the sideline after the snap, with a wideout blocking ahead of him. Of note is the fact that only Earl Bennett and Eric Weems took reps out of the slot during this drill.
-T Gabe Carimi looked good during pass-rush drills. He doesn't appear to be hampered by the knee and is not favoring it at all. Assuming he stays healthy, I have every confidence he'll again be the team's best offensive lineman this year.
-RB Armando Allen caught a touchdown pass from Jason Campbell on a deep pass down the left sideline. He was just too fast for the linebacker to handle. Not only has Allen looked good running the ball and on screens, but today he showed the ability to be a downfield threat as well.
-I was highly impressed with Chilo Rachal during 1-on-1 drills. Working as the backup left guard, Rachal was dominant against defensive tackles Jordan Miller and Stephen Paea back-to-back. Also on the backup offensive line, RG Nick Pieschel looked good.
Conversely, I haven't seen a lot of good things from staring RG Lance Louis. He still lacks power and push up front. He has a lot of quickness but he cannot consistently outmuscle defenders.
-Following up his subpar performance from Sunday, DE Shea McClellin again looked awful. He was stuffed twice in a row during pass-rush drills by T Tyler Hendrickson, a camp body. On the very next rep, DE Corey Wootton stepped in and blew past Hendrickson.
McClellin appears to have lost some confidence. He's not coming off the ball quick enough and cannot turn the corner. Additionally, it's lights out for McClellin once the blocker gets his hands on him. He cannot separate.
And against the run, things were even worse. During 11-on-11s, Chris Williams twice drove McClellin right into the ground.
I'm not panicking yet, as this was only his third padded NFL practice, but it's clear that he's not a natural defensive end. He's going to need a lot of coaching if he's going to ever be a consistent contributor.
-Like we saw on Sunday, the offense ran a number of play-action bootlegs today, getting the quarterbacks out on the run. On most of these plays, the first read is the tight end.
-Marinelli wants more out of DT Henry Melton. He was all over the fourth-year player today, hounding him incessantly to do better. Marinelli knows that Melton is a key cog to this defense and isn't going to let him rest on his past accomplishments.
-I've talked a lot about the quickness of DE Thaddeus Gibson but I realized today why he's buried on the depth chart: he is worthless against the run. He's a thin player (6-3, 243) and cannot set the edge. Were he to see time on defense, he would be a liability against the run.
-T James Brown looked good today at left tackle. In 1-on-1s, as well as the team portions, Brown showed solid balance and power. He's deceptively strong and was flat out manhandling McClellin every time they squared off. Brown is definitely making a case for a roster spot.
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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.