The Chicago Bears were scheduled to practice today at 3:15 p.m. At 9:40 a.m., the team announced that practice would be moved up four hours to 11:15 a.m. due to "inclement weather." Because we had the day off on Sunday, I was still at home when I found out the news. Living roughly an hour and 10 minutes away, I had to make an unbelievably frantic dash to get to Bourbonnais.
I showed up about a half hour into the session. I missed warmups, some of the positionals and the first two-minute drill. Other than that, I caught the rest of the action.
Unfortunately for a guy wearing shorts and a T-shirt, the weather decided to drop 30 degrees and dump rain on us about midway through practice. And what do you know, it's 4 p.m. as I type this and it's sunny and gorgeous outside. Sigh….
-T Jermon Bushrod (calf) was dressed and worked out in positional drills. He did not participate in team drills. He said after practice he wants to play in the preseason opener this Friday against the Carolina Panthers but coach Marc Trestman said the team isn't going to take any risks.
"I don't think it's out of the realm that [Bushrod} would play on Friday night but he would have to be 100 percent for us to even think about playing him," Trestman said after practice. "There is no need to push this. We're going to be very patient. Doctors will tell us the condition he is in. We'll evaluate on Thursday and Friday morning and see where we're at."
-T Jonathan Scott (knee) also returned to the practice field after sitting out almost all of last week, yet he was limited as well.
-LB D.J. Williams (calf) is still in a walking boot.
-WR Earl Bennett (concussion) is still being evaluated for concussion-like symptoms that knocked him out of Family Night.
-DE Julius Peppers (hamstring) did not practice but it was precautionary.
-CB Kelvin Hayden (hamstring) did not participate and is listed as week to week.
Notes from Day 6
-New tight end Leonard Pope is one tall human being. At 6-8, he's the tallest player on the team, yet he only weighs 264 pounds, so his frame is very thin. He was brought in to compete with Steve Maneri for the club's blocking tight end role.
During 1-on-1 drills, Pope stonewalled DE Josh Williams on his first rep, then stifled DE Cornelius Washington on his second snap. Williams worked with the second team during 11-on-11s and again looked good in pass protection. On one snap, I saw him lock up Williams and then he drove the defender backward three yards. He's not exceedingly strong but Pope demonstrated great technique and use of leverage today. If that continues, he could quickly leapfrog Maneri, who has been decent but not great to this point.
-During the late part of positional drills, Kromer had Kyle Long in at right guard with the first team. He was explaining correct technique on double-teams and spent an inordinate amount of time working with Long. Kromer has said it's going to take Long some extra time to get up to speed, so it's not a surprise he was spending so much time with the rookie.
Yet what I found interesting was Long's willingness to ask questions. The reason their conversations lasted so long was due to Long's insistence on understanding fully what Kromer was teaching him. One thing is obvious, the kid wants to learn, and the Bears staff is going to put in whatever time it take to make that happen.
-With Bushrod and Scott sitting out team drills, the starting left tackle was again Eben Britton. Yet, as he did this past weekend, Kromer shuffled his two offensive tackles, sliding J'Marcus Webb to the left edge, with Britton on the right side, for one series. The shuffling will likely stop once Bushrod returns but Britton hasn't looked bad at right tackle. If he can play well in the preseason games, Britton could challenge for the swing tackle spot. Now is his chance to earn a place on the 53.
-With Hayden out, the starting nickelback was Isaiah Frey. This is no surprise, as Frey has been arguably the most impressive corner in training camp. On one play, Frey was in the slot and read the swing pass to Matt Forte in the flats. Frey shot like a cannon into the passing lane and nearly picked off the ball. It was an extremely impressive, athletic play.
"I like him," defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. "I'm pulling for him because every day he comes out with a great attitude. He's got a smile on his face. He's not playing cautious. He's looking to make plays. He's doing what he's coached to do. That's what you're looking for out of young players. He's a great young man, and we're just really excited about the progress he's been making out here on a day-to-day basis."
Frey was pushing Hayden for playing time even when he was healthy. With Hayden on the shelf, the door is wide open for Frey, who just needs to keep doing what he's doing to start the season on the first team.
"It's a good opportunity," said Frey. "I'm just making the plays I'm supposed to. It seems like the ball is kind of a magnet towards me right now. But Kelvin's the starting nickel and I'm just taking his place right now. Hopefully he can get healthy, so we're still a very good team with both of us out there."
-DT Corvey Irvin stands out more and more each day. He's working as the club's fourth defensive tackle and made two notable plays today. The first came during 1-on-1 drills, when Irvin put a spin move on Jordan Mills that left the blocker with nothing but a handful of air.
The second came during 11-on-11s. The second-team offense set up a screen pass. The rest of the defensive linemen rushed up the field but Irvin wasn't fooled. He sniffed out the play, found Micheal Bush in the flats and made a play that would have gone for no gain. If the season started today, Irvin would be a part of the defensive-tackle rotation.
-Twice today, I noticed Lance Briggs working individually with rookie linebacker Jon Bostic. Briggs was discussing reads, technique and giving the youngster tips to get better. The first time I noticed the two talking, Mel Tucker came up to listen in on the conversation. After about 10 seconds of listening to Briggs teach, Tucker nodded his head and walked away.
-DE Cheta Ozougwu looked really good today during 1-on-1 drills. He showed great speed off the edge and continually beat his man around the corner. Defensive line coach Mike Phair was praising Ozougwu after almost every snap, as he can be lightning quick off the edge at times.
Ozougwu took reps with the second team and all that pressure he was applying in 1-on-1 drills disappeared during the team portions. I focused on him for a number of snaps and he never even sniffed the backfield. Ozougwu is very gifted and has a great opportunity to be the club's fourth defensive end but he needs to start making plays when it matters, as he's already missed time due to injury.
-Jarrett Payton, son of the great Walter Payton, was in attendance today.
-DE Kyle Moore, who is also in the mix for the fourth DE position, got a lot of love from Mel Tucker on a couple of occasions today. Moore was inserted with the starters last week when Corey Wootton and Julius Peppers sat. His stock rose even more this afternoon.
-RT Jordan Mills, who worked with the second team today, has struggled with stunt pickups. On more than one occasion, he crashed down with the defensive end, which left an open lane for the tackle swinging outside. Yet Mills does look good at the second level, consistently finding players to block. He's athletic; he just needs some work.
-During rush drills, Harvey Unga lined up in the fullback spot in an offset-I formation. I focused on him to see what type of lead block he'd offer. At the snap, he took off into the hole and laid a block that wouldn't have been acceptable in a powder puff game. FB Tony Fiammetta's job is safe.
-With Bennett out, Joe Anderson again worked at wide receiver with the first team.
-DE Cornelius Washington is raw and unpolished. He's a work in progress to say the least but my goodness is he powerful. I saw him explode into Mills off the snap and he nearly knocked the blocker on his butt.
-Speaking of Mills, he and Kyle Moore got into pushing matches on two separate occasions today, once after a play and then later before a play. These things happen in camp but it's worth noting going forward.
-T Cory Brandon has been working at left tackle with the second team and the third-year player hasn't shown much. Today, I watched him get beat horribly by Josh Williams in team drills, the same player tight end Leonard Pope was dominating. Brandon spent last season on the practice squad but he's going to have really turn it around for that to happen again in 2013.
-WR Terrence Toliver caught two straight touchdowns with the second team in red-zone drills. The second was a jump ball that Toliver rose over the defender to grab. Toliver is battling for the fifth receiver spot on the roster and days like today are going to help him.
-With Paea sitting, DT Nate Collins took all of the first-team reps.
-During the last set period of 11-on-11s, the offense practiced a fake snap, where they tried to get the defense to jump offside. The defense didn't bite and QB Jay Cutler signaled for a timeout. As usual, Trestman is leaving no stone unturned.
-Working with the third team, undrafted rookie CB C.J. Wilson has looked pretty good in Bourbonnais. He made another nice play today, closing on a seam route and getting there just in time to knock the ball away from WR Josh Lenz. Right now, Wilson appears bound for the practice squad.
-Trestman quote of the day, to an offense that lacked energy practicing in the cold and rain: "Can we get excited?"
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.