The Chicago Bears conducted the final practice of 2013 training camp today. It was a cool morning, with temperatures in the upper 60s throughout the session. The stands were packed today, yet unfortunately for the fans, the Bears practiced in shells today and it was mostly walkthroughs. As they did last Wednesday, the team today was mimicking what will be Friday practices during the season.
"Today you saw a different type of practice," coach Marc Trestman said after practice. "It would've been more like a Friday practice up at Halas Hall where we wouldn't be padded up. We were in shells. You didn't see them finishing across the field. They'd be saving their legs for the game. Quick whistle, as you saw, but still a full speed practice."
"[Scott} was actually with the doctors today," said Trestman. "His knee was aspirated over the last couple days. It looks like it's gotten better. We should see some movement in the right direction in the next few days and the next week."
Notes from Day 14
-WR Joe Anderson (shoulder) was dressed and practiced in full today. He had an MRI on his shoulder yesterday and the results were negative.
Yet Anderson was not inserted back into the starting lineup. Instead, Devin Aromashodu held his spot with the first team. In fact, Anderson even took a few reps with the third team. I still believe Anderson's roster spot is safe, so the third-team snaps were likely just a way to get him more time on the field. But it does appear Aromashodu has passed Anderson on the depth chart.
"We're trying to get some other guys in there, get some combinations of receivers out there and just see what we feel comfortable with, see what these other guys can do," Jay Cutler said. "We're putting some different guys in the slot, moving Alshon over to X. I think it's been good work for those guys, just to play different positions and see exactly what we have."
With that in mind, if the season started today, here are the five wide receivers I believe would be on the final 53-man roster: Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Earl Bennett, Devin Aromashodu and Joe Anderson. If Bennett's concussion lingers into the regular season, Eric Weems will likely hang on to his roster spot.
-Tight ends coach Andy Bischoff ran his players through one-hand drills, where his players have to catch an over-the-shoulder pass with just one hand. All of the tight ends did well in the drill and did not drop a ball, except for Fendi Onobun. On his first rep, the ball bounced off his hand like a rock. On his second rep, he had to use both hands to haul it in. He did snag his third pass but overall, it wasn't an impressive display.
-Third-string QB Matt Blanchard struggled mightily today. He was hesitant, inaccurate and repeatedly forced passes into coverage. Against the Panthers, Blanchard played well, but he didn't build on that performance today.
-CB C.J. Wilson was working with the second team today. With Kelvin Hayden done for the season, Wilson has jumped up the depth chart. Trestman even called out Wilson today as one of the rookies in whom he's seen improvement. Wilson, an undrafted rookie out of North Carolina State, could be given serious consideration for the 53-man roster if the club keeps six corners. And if they don't, he looks like a lock for the practice squad.
-For the first time in camp, the offense ran a zero screen to Brandon Marshall. On this play, Marshall lined up wide left with Alshon Jeffery in the slot. At the snap, Marshall immediately turned to face Cutler, who took one step back and fired the ball to his receiver. At the same time, Jeffery sprinted out in front of Marshall to block the wide corner. With Marshall's after-the-catch ability, it won't be surprising to see Trestman use this play numerous times this season.
-CB Tim Jennings has been fairly quiet in camp this year. He has been his usual solid self but he hasn't had a lot of standout plays. During red-zone drills today, Jennings lined up across from Marshall at the 10-yard line. Marshall ran seven-yard out pattern and Cutler passed him the ball. Yet Jennings broke quickly and undercut the route. He picked off the pass and sprinted 100 yards to the opposite end zone, before bowing to the Bourbonnais crowd.
-Offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said something very interesting after practice, when asked about the demotion of T J'Marcus Webb.
"He moved to the left side, and he had been working the right side, so it did take him a little time to adjust," said Kromer. "But if he's going to be on our team, if he makes our eight, then he's going to have to play more than one spot, and this is a great opportunity for him to get those reps."
Notice Kromer said "if" Webb makes the team. That's not a strong vote of confidence from the coach who will be responsible for Webb's future with the team. Yet I still contend that Webb will be a pivotal member of the offensive line this year. This could be Kromer using a Tice-like tactic in using the media to fire up Webb. We'll see if it works on Thursday when the Bears take on the San Diego Chargers in the club's second preseason game.
"I think there's a lot of natural ability in both the guys," Kromer said. "One (Mills) has more experience than the other playing the offensive line position. They're rookies. They have a lot to learn. It's going to take time. But the only way they can learn is by doing it. So they need to continue to get reps. Last week, they both got 51 reps in the game, which is the most in the offensive line. This week, we'll get a lot of reps for them again, so they have hands-on work to learn it."
-Finally, I would like to thank all of the Bear Report subscribers for a great training camp this year. I have enjoyed every minute of it and I hope you have to. I still have a cache of video to use, so I'll continue posting those for the next few weeks. It's going to be an exciting season and I hope you all stick with us as we guide you through it.
Have a great Tuesday evening everyone. I'm taking a long-overdue night off.
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.