The Chicago Bears conducted the final practice of 2014 rookie minicamp this afternoon in windy and sunny conditions. The session was very short, clocking in at less than an hour.
Most of the non-rookies who took part in practice on Friday and Saturday were not in attendance today. No players were injured on the field.
Notes from Day 3
-Aaron Kromer spoke yesterday about his elevation from offensive line coach to offensive coordinator. He said it gives him a chance to move around in practice and lend a coaching hand to different positional groups outside of the linemen.
That held true today, as current offensive line coach Pat Meyer was again left alone to work with the blockers. Kromer spent his time observing the quarterbacks as they worked with coach Matt Cavanaugh.
-Today's practice featured an extended special teams session. Every player outside of the quarterbacks and the offensive linemen were part of one of four groups being shuffled from station to station. For most of these players, special teams is where they can make their mark and potentially earn a roster spot, so it makes sense for the coaching staff, particularly special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis, to spend extra time evaluating the rookies.
Undrafted linebacker Christian Jones and fourth-round safety Brock Vereen showed very well during the third-phase drills. Jones moves very well for a player of his size, while Vereen's combination of quickness and balance stood out amongst his peers.
Vereen was drafted as a potential starter at safety but also for his ability on special teams. He showed today that he could easily become a key contributor for DeCamillis going forward.
For Jones, he must continue to build on today's performance. Some off-field problems saw him fall out of the draft, despite being considered a third-round talent by some, so he must prove his value in multiple phases. He's a talented, athletic linebacker who could have a lot of value for the club down the line, but the first step is to get his foot in the door on special teams.
-TE Andre McDonald, who had two strong catches yesterday, struggled this afternoon in 1-on-1 drills. He has the size (6-8, 278) to out-leap defenders in jump-ball situations but his hands aren't consistent, his balance is horrible, and he tends to lumber in and out of his breaks.
-For second-round DT Ego Ferguson, leverage is everything. On one snap today, he kept his pads low and ripped into the gap between the offensive tackle and guard. Once he got to that point, his strength took over and he drove two blockers into the backfield.
When Ferguson hits the gap hard, he can be beastly. The problem is that he rarely puts himself in that position. Yet the potential is there and we saw it today. He's a work in progress and it could take a year or two before he hits his ceiling, but it's a very high ceiling.
-There was very little action in the brief 11-on-11 sessions the team conducted today. Quarterback Jerrod Johnson was not in attendance today, leaving just David Fales and Adam Kennedy to run the offense. Both passers struggled to find open receivers, with Kennedy getting picked off by Indiana S Greg Heban on the final snap of practice.
Based on three days watching Fales throw the ball, it appears he's going to have to take a big step forward to earn the No. 2 job this season. Depending on how Jordan Palmer performs in OTAs and training camp, Fales could be bound for the practice squad. His lacks arm strength and right now, the game is a little too fast for him. Things are going to have to quickly slow down for him if he plans on being a part of the final 53-man roster.
-Other than that, it was a quick and eventless practice. Enjoy your Sunday everyone!
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth 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.