Bears training camp diary: Day 6

Today's practice featured visits from Commissioner Roger Goodell and John Madden. We break down all the action from the practice fields of Olivet Nazarene University.

Chicago Bears media and fans were treated today with a visit from NFL Commissioner Roger and Hall of Fame broadcaster John Madden. Goodell made us wait for nearly an hour after practice started, which meant I did not get a chance to speak with him.

As you guys know, I'm not going to miss what's happening on the practice field.

Injuries

WR Eric Weems rolled his ankle during yesterday's session. His left ankle was taped up today and he did not practice.

LB Brian Urlacher was given a veteran day off and will return tomorrow. Throughout most of the practice, FOX's Jay Glazer talked Urlacher's ear off.

LB Adrien Cole did not practice for the second straight day.

News and Notes from Day 6

-The big news today revolved around the left tackle position. Throughout camp so far, offensive coordinator Mike Tice has rotated J'Marcus Webb and Chris Williams at the position. One day Webb works with the first team and the next day it's Williams. Typically, both players would at least get a rep or two with the first team.

Yesterday, J'Marcus Webb took every single snap at LT with the first team and Williams worked solely with the twos. I asked Tice after practice why Williams didn't get any first-team reps.

"We alternate days," Tice said. "So, Webb one day, Williams one day. Really, only two tackles taking any reps at the left tackle position. We'll give the rookie two snaps here, two snaps there, but we're trying to make sure that they both go against the good competition, and this way we can grade them against Julius and Izzy and the rook and 98 and see how they do. That's very important."

Today though, Webb was again lined up at left tackle with the starters, where he stayed for the entire practice. Williams, on the other hand, took all of his snaps at right tackle. He rotated with Gabe Carimi with the ones and took all the second-team reps at RT.

At left tackle with the backups was James Brown, who has been very impressive so far in camp. Unfortunately, the team has limited our access to coaches, so we won't be able to ask Tice about this development until next week.

For now, it appears Webb has a stranglehold on the LT job, with the team trying to find a place for Williams.

Here's the thing, if the coaches like Webb where he is and have faith in Brown as a backup, why even bother with Williams on the right edge? Carimi has performed very well so far and should be in no danger of losing his job. Why not put Williams at left guard, where he has started the past two years?

That way you can move Chris Spencer back to right guard, where he started last year, and get Lance Louis out of there. Louis is by far the weak link of this group. By inserting Williams back inside, you get the five best offensive linemen as your starters.

But what do I know?

-Yesterday, Stephen Paea saw action ahead of Matt Toeaina at nose tackle. It was unclear at the time if that was a one-time thing or a permanent move. Today, we found out the answer: permanent.

Paea was gain inserted with the starters at nose tackle. Yet he also rotated to 3-technique in place of Henry Melton. He is the most-explosive interior defensive lineman on the team and is having an outstanding camp.

"I'm very pleased with all of [Paea's] work, at the nose and at the three and at the nickel," defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said after practice. "One thing he shows is tremendous skill. Great pad level. He's healthy. You can tell, when you're out there, you feel him. That's the way it should be. You should be able to feel him."

For Bear Report subscribers paying attention, I've been touting Paea all offseason. He was the first player I grabbed during our lunch access, before even the first practice. I expected big things from him then and I expect even bigger things now. Barring injury, he will be an impact player this year.

-With Urlacher out, your starting linebackers: MLB Nick Roach, WLB Lance Briggs, SLB Geno Hayes. Roach is obviously the primary backup to Urlacher, with Hayes entrenched at number four.

-The most impressive linebacker today was Dom DeCicco, working at middle linebacker with the backups. During 11-on-11 run drills, DeCicco scraped off tackle to his left and lit up FB Harvey Unga, knocking him to the ground.

Later in the same drills, DeCicco again scraped left, blew through one player and then absolutely destroyed Edwin Williams, sending the big offensive lineman to his knees. If DeCicco continues to develop as a linebacker, he could be a starter down the line. He has the requisite athleticism and speed, and the kid can hit.

Additionally, in red zone drills, DeCicco was able to tip a pass from Jason Campbell that ended up going for an interception.

-Just like last year, DT Henry Melton continues to struggle against the run. He comes off the ball hard and low but he does not have the power to matchup with the big offensive linemen. For that reason, Paea has been getting occasional reps at 3-tech. Unless Melton soon raises his game, expect Paea to see additional action on 1st and 2nd down this year.

-Rookie safety Brandon Hardin had a solid day. He nearly intercepted a deep pass intended for Brandon Marshall during 11-on-11s. He followed that up by intercepting a pass during red zone.

Hardin is playing free safety with the backups and appears to be getting better at the position each day. He's been good about keeping receivers in front of him and being cognizant of the deep pass. The best part about this kid is his size and frame. I cannot wait until the preseason games, when we'll finally get a chance to see him tackle. It should be great theater.

-For the second practice in a row, I saw Julius Peppers slide inside, moving Melton to defensive end. The Bears did this occasionally last year, with good results, and it looks like the coaches will again give Peppers the freedom to move around the defensive line.

-FB Tyler Clutts caught a flat pass during red zone and then fumbled it. He was also inconsistent as a lead blocker, and walked away from a number of plays shaking his head in self-disgust. He has not looked great so far in camp and has to step it up if he's going to make the final 53-man roster.

-On a related note, H-back Evan Rodriguez lined up at fullback in I-formation for a couple of snaps during team drills. He played that role in college and showed well as a lead blocker. If Clutts can't get the job done, the team will fall back on E-Rod.

-DT Brian Price had a better day today. He showed good power on the inside. When he gets leverage, he can move blockers backward. I haven't seen anything but a bull rush from him though. He was touted as a 3-technique player but so far, he looks more like a nose to me.

-DE Shea McClellin did much better for himself during 1-on-1 drills. On three different snaps, he got to a hand on the quarterback, which is three more touches than he's had in the past two practices combined.

Still, during team drills, McClellin was nonexistent. James Brown dominated him the entire afternoon.

"He's a work in progress right now," said Marinelli. "He's just got to keep coming. The work is there. The effort is there. It's just about developing a counter, not so much a counter move but just being comfortable from really coming off every down. Sometimes he's kind of looking around a little bit instead of just going. That'll come. Each day he makes a little progress."

-CB Kelvin Hayen forced two fumbles today, which is the fastest way to catch the eye of Chicago's coaching staff. Hayden has been pretty invisible so far in camp and has not truly challenged Tim Jennings for the starting gig. Today was his best day by far.

-WR Alshon Jeffery is a schizophrenic on the field. On one play, he'll look outstanding, using his size and great hands to beat defenders. On other plays, he's clearly a rookie, so temper your expectations for him this year.

A perfect example: Jeffery lined up wide right across from Tim Jennings. At the snap, QB Jay Cutler rolled out to the right. Jeffery ran straight ahead and got behind Jennings, yet once he saw S Chris Conte roll over the top, Jeffery had no idea what to do. He started to break down and then just stopped running. Cutler was forced to throw the ball away.

Jeffery must learn how adjust on the fly or he'll be only a minor contributor this season.

-The bunch formation in Tice's offense is deadly, particularly when Earl Bennett and Brandon Marshall are stacked on top of each other. Almost every time, Marshall runs off the defenders, leaving Bennett wide open underneath.

Yet today, the safety crept up on the play to take away Bennett, and Marshall blew right past him. Cutler hit him in stride for a touchdown. With Marshall and Bennett next to each other, it's a pick-your-poison scenario for the opposing secondary.

-DT Nick Collins, for the third day in a row, lined up at 3-technique with the backups. So far, he's the frontrunner for the fourth defensive tackle position. Collins is a powerful, aggressive player that hits gaps hard. If he makes the roster, he'll have value as a rotational defender.

-WR Brittan Golden was again impressive today. Working with the third team during 2-minute drills, Golden caught three passes in one drive. One of those catches was a 30-yarder down the right seam, in which QB Josh McCown made a beautiful touch pass.

Receivers Dane Sanzenbacher and Devin Thomas are ahead of Golden on the depth chart, yet the rookie has outplayed both of those veterans so far.

-I like offensive lineman A.J. Greene. He's an explosive player. He was a tackle in college at Auburn, where he weekly played against the best collegiate players in the land. Yet he's currently at left guard with the third team.

On one play during goal line drills yesterday, Greene leveled Toeaina, driving the defender to the ground. It's unlikely Greene will make the 53-man roster, but he's got practice squad written all over him.

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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.


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