The Chicago Bears players did not practice in full pads today for the first time since the fourth training camp session. Today's action was nothing more than walkthroughs, with the team gearing up for Thursday's preseason matchup against the Denver Broncos at Soldier Field.
The Bears made some roster moves during practice, signing DE Derek Walker to a one-year contract today and waived T Tyler Hendrickson.
From the press release:
"The 6-4, 270-pound defensive lineman comes to the Bears after spending part of the 2012 season with the Chicago Rush. In four games for the Rush, Walker recorded five tackles, three tackles for losses, two sacks, four quarterback hurries, an interception and a blocked kick.
"Walker entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Seahawks in 2009 out of the University of Illinois."
LB Brian Urlacher was nowhere to be found for the second straight day. He was excused for personal reasons. This is the sixth straight practice he has missed.
WR Devin Hester also was not on the practice field. He was excused due to illness.
Notes from Day 11
Like I said, not much happened today, literally. There were no pads, no hitting and no live action. The starters took a handful of reps but for the most part, it was a chance for the coaches to look a bit more at the third-string players.
-WR Dane Sanzenbacher took reps in place of Hester, working out wide and in the slot.
-RB Armando Allen was used as a wide receiver on two occasions, one time catching a deep slant pattern.
-WR Joseph Anderson dropped a pair of easy passes.
-LB J.T. Thomas is growing in coverage. He looked solid today and appears to have finally grasped his role in Chicago's zone schemes.
-WR Terriun Crump had his second straight strong day, muscling his way up for a couple of very nice catches.
-FB Tyler Clutts made the best catch I've ever seen from him. He was running a 15-yard crossing route. He had a defender draped on his back. QB Matt Blanchard made a very nice throw on the run and somehow Clutts pulled it in. Showing some skills in the passing game will go a long way toward him keeping his roster spot.
Quotes from Day 11
Head coach Lovie Smith
On what he's looking for from his players on Thursday:
"Just getting guys into the game, in a game situation. So everything. Even for the veterans, we're starting over a new year. Everybody for the most part will play a little bit. We haven't decided exactly how many reps everyone will get. We just want to keep the evaluations going. We have some tough decisions to make on the 53-man roster, on who starts, all of those things, that's what we're looking for.
"We just want to see exactly where our players are. We want to see who can finish plays, and who can make plays. Whenever you go out there you want to win a football game. And even the things that are just routine, like getting ready for a football game. So everything, even for us. You know we go through a lot of what we do for game week. We're going to stay in the same hotel, go to the same meetings. The warmups, something as simple as that, some of these guys have not warmed up before a game before. All the things like that will help."
On the depth behind Brian Urlacher:
"We like our depth. Nick Roach is our backup MIKE linebacker. He had an outstanding day yesterday. Nick has played good, winning football for us around here. Dom DeCicco has played, it's a great opportunity for younger guys like Dom to get reps. During the course of the year you have injuries. Training camp is a great time to develop some of that depth."
On LT J'Marcus Webb:
"J'Marcus, he's making progress too. Again, for what we've done, everybody is about where we wanted them to be. We need to get, of course Denver has a couple of good defensive rushers, this will be a good challenge for not only J'Marcus but all of the offensive linemen."
On seeing the third stringers in live action:
"That's why it's so important to let those guys play, guys that we don't know what they can do. We've got some new players that we want to get reps, but guys that are in a hard competition, you want to see both of those guys play against the same player. So, you talk to those guys, and you're really see how important preseason games are.
"Even us as a staff, too. I mean we can't wait to go through our Game Day. All of us are ready for a game.
Special teams coordinator Dave Toub
On signing Rashied Davis:
"It was perfect. He's a puzzle piece really. Devin Thomas was going to be the fifth or sixth receiver. Offense felt good with him, I felt good with him as a special-teams player. Rashied, same thing. You all know how I feel about Rashied. He was a four-phase player for us, great special-teams player so it was a great fit for us."
Dane Sanzenbacher on special teams:
"The last four games of last year he was a starter for us on two phases. He was a PP and an off returner for us on kickoffs, so he's got game experience. If he's in that role, fifth receiver or sixth receiver, we know he can play special teams for us."
Young guys he's watching:
"Isaiah Frey is not going to be a returner but I want to see him block people on a kickoff, lock people out. I know what Blake Costanzo can do; we know he's going to be good. Weems, we know what he can do. J.T. Thomas has really established himself as a linebacker; now we want to see what he can do on special teams."
Importance of the gunners, with Corey Graham gone:
"It's key this year because we've got to replace Corey [Graham] and find that guy. We're going to start out with D.J. Moore. We think he can do it. He's got the quickest first step out of anybody out of anybody on the edge so we think he can do it. It's just a matter of him having the effort to get down every time and finish, because it takes a lot of effort. You're going to get knocked down and you have to keep coming back. Takes a lot of tenacity. He thinks he can do it, we think he can do it so we're going to use him there."
Linebackers coach Bob Babich
On Geno Hayes:
"I don't know if you guys noticed, but he's shown up and done a really good job. There are some differences in the system [at Tampa Bay], but he's been a real pro. I've been very pleased with Geno from that aspect. He still has a little ways to go, but he shows playmaking ability. He shows he can play winning football. We just have to get him doing some things the way we do them. Not the way that he's done them in the past. And he's been very receptive to that. We're extremely excited about having Geno Hayes on our football team."
On Lance Briggs:
"We've got a great player in Lance Briggs. He's going to show up every day. Lance is having a great training camp. I mean I'm so pleased with Lance. We all are so pleased with Lance, with his professionalism and coming out here with a chip on his shoulder and being a pro every day. Along with all his athleticism and talents. He knows the system 10 times better than he did nine years ago. That's such a big plus and he's shown it in training camp. He shows why he is so good in our system."
On whether Dom DeCicco can replace Urlacher down the line:
"Guys I'm not thinking about a replacement for Urlacher. We're taking it one day at a time. Dom has work to do. He comes out here, one thing about Dom he's a hard worker. He comes out every day and he's trying to get better, striving to get better, but he's got work to do."
CB Tim Jennings
"I always ask Brian how you doing today, and he just says he's still got a little soreness. There's a little concern and we feel bad because we know how bad Brian wants to be out there, and how hard he works just to be out there. When he's not out there, there's a little concern because we need that piece of the puzzle so badly. He puts everybody into position, and with the season almost getting started, we want him out there."
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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.