We had one good day of sunshine on Monday but today it was back to the rainy, overcast skies that have hung over Bourbonnais since Chicago Bears training camp began last week. More than 5,000 fans showed up for practice this morning and it was estimated that more than 30,000 fans were in attendance the first four days combined.
In spite of the early start times and less-than-ideal weather, Bears fans never cease to amaze in their dedication to the team.
The Bears reached an injury settlement with DE Turk McBride, who tore his Achilles tendon during Monday's practice. To replace him, the team signed DE Josh Williams, an undrafted rookie out of Kansas who tried out for the Bears during rookie minicamp back in May.
-LT Jermon Bushrod, who strained his right calf on Monday, was in a walking boot and did not participate.
-DE Cheta Ozougwu (hamstring) warmed up with his teammates but was limited.
-LT Jonathan Scott (knee) left practice early and had his right knee wrapped in ice the remainder of the session. It was reported as soreness and he's day to day.
-DL Jamaal Anderson (knee) also had his right knee wrapped roughly midway through. He's also day to day.
-CB Tim Jennings missed practice but he was excused for personal reasons.
-During positional drills, I walked over to the linebacker group to watch them run bag drills, which they don't typically do. I quickly realized D.J. Williams wasn't participating and soon found him on the far sidelines working with a trainer on his lower right leg. About a minute later, a cart was brought in and Williams was taken off the field. It was reported later as a calf injury and he will be "week to week."
That's not a good designation by any means.
"It's going to be week to week, and these things happen during training camp," coach Marc Trestman said after practice. "He's had a very good first week. He's totally locked in, been all business, excited about being here and as I said before when these things happen you just have to move on. I anticipate he'll be ready to go when the doctors clear him and hopefully that will be sooner than later. That's an opportunity again for our young guys to get reps and for Mel [Tucker] and Tim [Tibesar] to move people around and see what people can do. That's going to help our team get better as well."
Notes from Day 5
-In place of Bushrod, the team inserted Scott at left tackle on Monday. When Scott went down today, the club initially put third-year player Cory Brandon on the left edge, yet only for a few snaps, after which Eben Britton was placed at left tackle, where he stayed for the remainder of practice.
During 1-on-1 drills, Britton did not look horrible against Julius Peppers. He got outmuscled once but for the most part, he held his own.
"That was a lot of fun," Britton said after practice. "When you're going against a guy like [Peppers], you've just got make sure your technique is right. Like we always say on the O-line, take little steps. It just makes you better playing against a guy like Julius."
Britton started 26 games at right tackle and eight game at left guard in Jacksonville his first four years in the league. Those are also the two positions at which he has been practicing with the Bears. He has never started a game at left tackle during his four-year career.
-After Williams was carted off the field, the team engaged in an 11-on-11 session. Yet the defense used only nickel sets, which kept just Lance Briggs and James Anderson on the field at linebacker. It wasn't until nearly a half hour later that defensive coordinator Mel Tucker inserted rookie linebacker Jon Bostic into the starting middle linebacker spot.
Yet Tucker went back to nickel-only formations during the next team drill and didn't put Bostic back in with the ones until the final red-zone period of the practice. It was almost as if Tucker was hesitant to give the rookie first-team reps. But why wait? Williams' designation of "week to week" basically means he's out indefinitely. So there's a great chance that Bostic will be the starting MIKE in the first preseason game and beyond.
When asked after practice about the possibility of starting, Bostic was noncommittal.
"To tell you the truth, I don't know," he said. "I'm really just taking it day by day. I'm not really looking ahead to then. I'm just looking forward to watching film today and trying to get better on the stuff for tomorrow."
Linebackers are a tough position to evaluate when they aren't allowed to tackle. Bostic looked fluid on the field with the starters but we'll have to wait until live action before we can properly calculate his potential.
-The tight ends worked on pass-blocking today in 1-on-1 drills with the safeties. It was a blitz-pickup period, where the safeties came off the edge and tried to work around the tight end.
The most impressive blocker was third-year tight end Kyle Adams, who stonewalled the defender on both of his reps. Martellus Bennet and Steve Maneri were also solid, yet Fendi Onobun struggled. It was my first chance to see Onobun in a pass-block set and he looked flat footed and slow. He's a natural athlete and has shown a lot of potential as a receiver but he has a ton of work to do before he can be considered a competent pass blocker.
-In pass-rush drills, Stephen Paea and Corey Wootton again were outstanding. Wootton split his reps 50/50 between defensive tackle and defensive end, which he also did during team drills. If I had to guess, I'd say Wootton plays 60 percent of his snaps this year at end and the other 40 percent at tackle.
During one defensive-tackle rep against Kyle Long, Wootton exploded to Long's outside shoulder and then threw a wicked spin move then left the rookie stunned. In fact, Long struggled throughout the 1-on-1 period for the first time in camp, so apparently he is human. Long tweeted this after practice:
"Can't win every rep! Everybody gets beat sometimes. Gotta move forward and learn from your mistakes..."
Corey Wootton is helping him do that.
"Naturally with [Long] not practicing [during the offseason], he's way behind," offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said after practice. "But he's really a smart guy. He's smart, strong and fast. And that's what you're looking for in an offensive lineman. So I don't think it's going to take him long to figure it out."
-Edwin Williams was brutal in 1-on-1 drills. He got beat on almost every snap and was very demonstrative in his frustration, which seemingly mounted after every bad pass block. It has been this way for most of camp.
Williams has been working with the second team at center but he has also taken snaps at both guard positions, with G Matt Slauson filling in at center. If Williams doesn't step up his game, Kromer may elect to keep just Slauson, and not Williams, as the backup center, with James Brown serving as the swing guard. That would then allow them to hang on to an extra tackle, as those guys are currently dropping like flies.
-By my count, the offense had four false starts today. The first was by Brown and the second by Long. The third and fourth were mulit-player false starts, with nearly everyone moving except C Roberto Garza. Every time it happened, Trestman kicked the entire offense off the field.
"I equated practice today a little bit like a Wednesday after an off day," Trestman said. "You saw there were a bunch of pre-snap penalties that forced us to look a lot sloppier than we have practiced throughout."
-With McBride gone and Ozougwu out, rookie Cornelius Washington again saw most of the reps with the second team. In the second half of practice, he visibly wore down. For most of camp he's been the definition of hustle but he took a lot of extra snaps today and he obviously wasn't ready for it. I focused on Washington in the second-to-last team drill and he offered absolutely nothing as a pass rusher. He was spent. He's an explosive player when fresh, and he even took a rep at defensive tackle during 1-on-1s, but he must work on his conditioning if he's going to make the team.
-Right now, the player getting the most reps as the club's fourth defensive tackle is Corvey Irvin. He's a hard worker who can get occasional one-gap penetration but he hasn't stood out much. Yet he and Nate Collins are almost always inserted with the second team at defensive tackle.
One DT that finally showed something today was undrafted rookie Brent Russell. A squat, powerful player, Russell hasn't showcased much quickness to this point but during 1-on-1 drills, he flashed some serious power. Lining up at nose tackle across from Edwin Williams, Russell exploded off the ball and nearly knocked Williams on his behind. The only reason he stayed on his feet was because he grabbed Russell's jersey. Otherwise, it would have been pancake pass rush. Very impressive.
-In red-zone drills, the offense put on a show. During one rep, QB Jay Cutler fired a pass to WR Alshon Jeffery in the back of the end zone. Jeffery leaped over the top of CB Kelvin Hayden to secure the ball and keep his feet in bounds. It was a play Jeffery needed to make, as he dropped a pass and was stripped by CB Charles Tillman earlier in practice.
The second TD was a back-corner fade to Brandon Marshall. Working against Tillman, Marshall contorted his body in midair and high-pointed the back-shoulder throw. He came down in bounds, completing an amazing touchdown grab, but landed awkwardly. He stayed down briefly and got up slowly but was able to jog off the field. Marshall might want to consider taking it a bit easier next time if he's going to save his body for the season.
The third and final TD was a bullet to TE Martellus Bennett just before he reached the end line. It was great pass, at Cutler had to fit the ball in a small window just over Bostic's outstretched arm.
-The best pass of the day came late during team drills. WR Earl Bennett streaked down the left sidelines and Cutler fired a dart that split the safety and cornerback. Bennett is sort of the forgotten man on this offense. He's been pretty steady in camp so far and this play showed he can still be a weapon at times.
-Second-team nickelback Isaiah Frey had another pair of pass deflections today. On the second deflection, he chased down WR Devin Aromashodu on a crossing pattern and closed quickly to knock the ball away. Frey just continues to impress.
-C Tyler Boggs is solid against the bull rush and showed a lot of strength in 1-on-1s today. Along with Sluason, Boggs might be able to challenge Edwin Williams for the backup center job.
-WR Devin Aromashodu has ascended to the second team, where he took all of his reps today. He made a number of nice downfield catches as well. Outside of Joe Anderson, Aromashodu has made the most plays of any backup wide receiver on the team so far.
-There was a report by the Chicago Tribune that Trestman is installing zone-read-option plays in his offense. Personally, I have not seen the offense run a zone-read play. I have seen fake handoffs across the quarterback's face out of shotgun formation, which looks like zone-read, but those were designed bootlegs and not option plays.
And when asked how much zone-read they will run this year, Cutler responded: "None."
-Bears president Ted Phillips was on the practice field today. It was the first time I have seen him out there.
-CB Sherrick McManis, working with the twos, has not looked great on defense in camp so far. Today, he was beat horribly by Aromashodu on a fly pattern that likely would have resulted in a touchdown. Yet McManis made up for it with the only interception of the morning. All in all though, he's a special teams player, not a corner.
-During one snap of team drills, Bostic and fellow rookie linebacker Khaseem Greene lined up over center, showing blitz. At the snap, Greene came, but he got nowhere. He showed no burst and was stonewalled immediately.
-Blake Costanzo was inserted at middle linebacker with the twos in place of Bostic.
-Trestman, after Kyle Long's false start: "Twos are up. That's ridiculous!"
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his third season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.