Bears training camp diary: Day 12

Today's Bears practice featured a Brian Urlacher sighting, a renewed left tackle competition and much more. We break down all the action from the practice fields at Olivet Nazarene.

The Chicago Bears underwent their 12th practice of training camp this afternoon. It was a long session, more than two-and-a-half hours, likely a punishment for the 31-3 drubbing the club endured in last Thursday's preseason opener.

The team made some roster moves prior to the practice, waiving DT Ronnie Cameron and CB Jeremy Ware, and placing Alex Brown, who signed a one-day contract on Wednesday so he could retire a Bear, on the reserve/retired list.

To fill those roster spots, the team signed LB Xavier Adibi, LB K.C. Asiodu and DE Aston Whiteside.

From the press release:

Adibi has appeared in 38 games with eight starts over four seasons with the Houston Texans (2008-10) and Minnesota Vikings (2011). The 6-2, 242-pound linebacker has recorded 55 tackles (41 solo), two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and 13 special teams stops after being selected by the Texans in the fourth round (118th overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft out of Virginia Tech.

Asiodu has appeared in 11 contests over two seasons with the St. Louis Rams (2009) and New Orleans Saints (2010) recording nine special teams tackles. He spent part of the 2011 preseason with the Green Bay Packers but was released before the regular season.

Whiteside entered the NFL this season as an undrafted free agent with the Dallas Cowboys out of Abilene Christian University.

Injuries

LB Brian Urlacher was back on the field this afternoon, albeit in shorts and a jersey. He did not suit up and did not participate.

After practice, he bolted for a golf cart and did not talk to the media. Coach Lovie Smith said afterward that there are no new revelations about the team's starting middle linebacker, other than his knee is sore and he's been excused recently for personal reasons.

LB Dom DeCicco (groin) was not dressed. Smith said DeCicco pulled his groin "pretty good" and will "be on the shelf for a while.

G Chilo Rachal also did not suit up with what Smith termed as "general soreness." In place of Rachal at left guard with the backups was undrafted rookie A.J. Greene.

DL Demario Pressley (ankle) did not practice.

LB Jabara Williams (hamstring) did not practice.

WR Eric Weems (ankle), after missing a week of practices, was suited up and participated in the entire practice.

S Major Wright, who felt tightness in his hamstring on Thursday and was held out for most of the game, participated in full today.

DT Stephen Paea hurt his left ankle midway through the session. He had it taped on the sideline but did not return.

News and notes from Day 12

-The big news today was the return of Chris Williams to left tackle. Coordinator Mike Tice put J'Marcus Webb in to start but rotated Williams in during walkthroughs, positionals and red zone drills.

For those who read my post-game wrap of Thursday's game, this should come as no surprise. Webb was not impressive in the preseason opener and it didn't take Tice long to reignite the left tackle competition, which is obviously back on.

-For the past week, Williams had been working at right tackle with the backups. That role was handed to undrafted rookie Cory Brandon, who even got a few reps with the starters during red zone drills.

I paid close attention to Brandon during 1-on-1s. He has a ridiculously strong punch, one that knocked DE Cheta Ozougwa to his knees during one rep. Brandon doesn't have the quickest feet and he's easily confused by defensive line stunts and blitzes. While he's still very raw, his prototypical size (6-7, 324) and strength has the coaching staff intrigued enough to move him up the depth chart.

-Brandon's footwork issues were exploited by DE Corey Wootton during 1-on-1s. On the first rush, Wootton flew outside and ripped his way into the backfield. On the next snap, Wootton put a spin move on Branond that knocked the rookie to his butt. It was really a thing of beauty.

-During 1-on-1 drills, WR Brandon Marshall repeatedly took CB Charles Tillman behind the woodshed. Marshall beat him on almost every snap, on both underneath and deep routes, using his physicality and speed to make Tillman look silly.

Marshall also had a pair of touchdowns during red zone drills, both back corner catches in which he was able to keep his feet in bounds.

-Yet Marshall was outdone by WR Alshon Jeffery, who put on a clinic during red zone drills. He made three plays in the back of the end zone that few receivers can make. On each grab he out-leaped the defender, the ball sticking to his hands like Velcro, and got both feet down.

His performance on Thursday looks as if it built some confidence in the rookie, who is starting to really come around. Jeffery is getting more reps by the day with the starters. If he continues to play like this, he'll be a fixture on the first team before long.

-With Wootton looking like arguably the best pass rusher on the team, and Shea McClellin showing well in the preseason opener, the coaches today chose to slide starting DE Julius Peppers inside to defensive tackle. During 2-on-2s, Idonije was at defensive tackle with McClellin rushing off the edge.

During nickel packages in team drills, Idonije would slide inside next to DT Henry Melton, with McClellin rushing off the edge. When he was drafted, it was assumed that McClellin would replace Izzy on passing downs, yet few saw them sliding Idonije inside on said downs. Yet there he was today, looking very good as a defensive tackle.

-On a related note, it appears as if Wootton and McClellin have leapfrogged Chauncey Davis, who came into camp as the No. 3 defensive end. Davis was working with the third team today. This isn't too surprising, as both Wootton and McClellin offer much more as pass rushers than does Davis.

-Speaking of McClellin, he twice beat RT Gabe Carimi for sacks during team drills. This signals two things. The first is that Carimi is still coming around. He's not yet back to the player he was before the injury. It appears that may take a little bit more time.

The second is the development of McClellin, who twice blew past the team's best offensive lineman. His improvement over the past week has been very impressive and, as of right now, he is looking like a first rounder.

-I mentioned in my left tackle film work that James Brown has a tendency to drop his head when pass blocking. Today, after DE Cheta Ozougwa beat Brown around the edge during 1-on-1 drills, offensive line coach Tim Holt said the exact same thing to Brown about dropping his head. It's obviously something Brown must work on if he's going to earn a roster spot.

-On an inside run play during red zone drills, LG Chris Spencer absolutely destroyed DT Matt Toeaina, driving him a good 10 yards out of the hole. Spencer was manhandled on Thursday, twice getting pushed backward into the quarterback's face. It was good to see him come out and show some nastiness.

On the other hand, it was disappointing to see Toeaina get pushed around so easily. We don't know the extent of Paea's injury but if he misses time, Toeaina becomes the starting nose tackle again. He's had a poor camp and needs to start improving quickly.

-Marshall and Jeffery both looked great today but that was at the expense of CB Tim Jennings, who was the man being abused on most of those catches. Let's face it, Jennings will never be a stud cover corner and will always be inconsistent when manned up on bigger receivers. He is what we thought he was. The one positive takeaway is that he'll only get better working against those two behemoths every day in practice.

-With both Urlacher and DeCicco out, undrafted rookie Ronnie Thornton was getting reps at middle linebacker with the second team. J.T. Thomas and Patrick Trahan rounded out the backup linebackers.

-During red zone drills, Craig Steltz took some reps with the starters in place of Major Wright, who is always dealing with some type of injury. The gap between Wright and Steltz isn't that big and it appears the team wants some extra looks at Steltz with the starters. If Wright continues to get banged up or plays poorly, the coaches won't hesitate to throw in Steltz, who showed last year he's more than capable of being a starter.

-WR Devin Hester made a circus catch on a deep ball from QB Jay Cutler. Hester went up over the defender – Jennings no less – tipped the ball up to himself and made a diving grab. It was an outstanding play from a player few folks are talking about right now.

-CB Kelvin Hayden twice resorted to pass interference, blatant defensive holding, on Jeffery. The gap between Jennings and Hayden is widening and interference calls aren't going to help. Jeffery has been dominant of late but that's no excuse; Hayden needs to get better.

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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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