The Chicago Bears conducted the second practice of veteran minicamp this afternoon. The Lake Forest weather was inclement today, with storms setting Halas Hall awash, so practice was again held inside the Walter Payton Center.
Offensive tackle Jordan Mills, guard Matt Slauson and safety Craig Steltz all sat out today's practice. Steltz participated in warm ups but was a spectator for team drills. Also on the sidelines was cornerback Sherrick McManis and guard Kyle Long.
"We limited some of the reps with the veteran guys today because we've got such competition going on, we wanted to get some of the new guys and younger guys a few more reps and we did that," coach Marc Trestman said after practice.
NOTES FROM DAY 2
The addition of Ola, who played for Trestman in Montreal, is interesting. He took first-team reps at right tackle yesterday and today he was shifted inside. While in the CFL, Ola was primarily a left tackle, so the coaching staff is giving him looks at different positions.
A side note on Ola: When the team announced the acquisition, the e-mail said he weighed 278. On the Bears official Web site, he's listed at 312.
If he's 312, I'm Brian Urlacher. Ola is much closer to his initial weight (278) than the overnight pounds he ostensibly added on the plane ride into Chicago.
-Yesterday, crowd noise was pumped in pre-snap through the PA system. Today, during the first five minutes of practice AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" filled the dome. White Sox fans would have been proud.
-In place of Will Sutton at 3-technique with the second team was Nate Collins, who emerged as a playmaker last season before tearing his ACL. Collins is wearing a brace on his left knee and he tends to hesitate when putting pressure on his leg but overall, he doesn't appear to have lost his quickness.
He's in a battle for his job, so Collins must prove his health once the pads come on in training camp, otherwise he'll be on the streets.
-During positional drills, wide receivers worked on same-hash crossing routes, or "pick" plays. The goal was to free up the outside receiver running a drag pattern, with the inside receiver rubbing his outside shoulder. The coaching staff will never admit to practicing pick plays but that's exactly what they did today.
-One receiver who stood out today was Josh Morgan. During passing drills, Morgan ran arguably the tightest routes of any wideout. His breaks were sharp and on time and he consistently showed "snatch-em" hands.
Morgan has been pretty quiet this offseason but he has some playmaking potential if he's ever called into duty. If he makes the team, don't count him out as a viable backup option.
-In general, the receivers had a tough day. During positional drills, nearly every wideout took turns doing pushups in between reps – their self-imposed punishment for dropping a pass.
Marquess Wilson, who has been Mr. Solid the past month, had an easy dropped pass during team drills that harkened back to last year. Wilson needs to stay focused, as he's shown in the past that once his focus wanes, he can be very unreliable. Just ask Mike Leach.
-While the receivers struggled, the tight ends flat out stunk. Martellus Bennett dropped an easy out route during red-zone drills and Dante Rosario was stripped by Isaiah Frey after the catch on a hitch route (which earned Frey a high five from Trestman).
Then there's Fendi Onobun, who again showed off his pair of sketchy hands. On an out route during team drills, Onobun was wide-open 10 yards down the field. The pass was put right on his hands, yet the ball bounced off them as if they were made of stone and into the arms of Frey. Onobun has playmaking potential but it's obvious he can't be relied on to make catches when they matter.
-During rookie minicamp, we posted a video of the defensive linemen in bag drills. The lowlight of that film was second rounder Ego Ferguson, who looked as raw as sushi during his first run through the bags.
Today, Ferguson was noticeably quicker and more active during bag drills, showing a strong rip and decent footwork. He's still a work in progress but seeing him get better, even if only marginally, is a good sign.
-Throughout almost the entire practice, up until the final team drill, D.J. Williams worked exclusively with the second team. In the last set of red-zone drills, Williams jumped back in with the starters but for most of the session the starting linebackers consisted of Lance Briggs (WILL), Jon Bostic (MIKE) and Shea McClellin (SAM).
This is still a very fluid situation and the coaching staff has been rotating linebackers nonstop the past month, so don't read too much into Williams' role today. He'll very likely be starting at MIKE in Week 1 but it's obvious the Bears are preparing for the possibility (or inevitability) that Williams will again miss time this year.
One thing is for sure, if McClellin is called into duty and can't cut it, it won't be for a lack of first-team reps.
-Speaking of McClellin, he's been used plenty as a blitzer the past two days. He's come off the edge in a two-point stance and has been sent up the middle as well. On a number of snap, I've noticed defensive ends dropping down the seams, so it's clear the Bears plan on using a lot of zone blitzes with McClellin this year.
"Shea's made the transition," coordinator Mel Tucker said. "Up to this point he's done a nice job with that. He looks like he's comfortable playing linebacker in coverage and in rush. He's going to be a typical 4-3 linebacker for us. I see him as probably more of a blitzer than maybe a four-down rusher, but he will have some edge rush opportunities. I think you saw some today."
-Cornerback Demontre Hurst made two strong plays to close practice. During the final set of team drills, Hurst had an interception on one play and a very nice pass breakup a few plays later. He's buried on the depth chart but Hurst looked very good in rookie minicamp and is now making plays against the veterans. He'll need plenty more of those if he's going to earn a roster spot but it appears Hurst is on the right track.
-On one of the final snaps of the day, tight end Matthew Mulligan caught an out route in the flats. There is no contact in practice but apparently Al Louis-Jean didn't get the memo. After Mulligan made his catch, he turned up-field and was promptly jolted by a shoulder from Louis-Jean.
Typically, that type of aggression will get a player noticed but in Trestman's camp, one in which there is no hitting in practice, Louis-Jean's antics most likely hurt his chances at a roster spot.
-Finally, here is the starting punt return unit (remember, starting special teams units are full of backups who are frontrunners for final roster spots):
Isaiah Frey, Danny McCray and Charles Tillman out wide; Jordan Senn, Khaseem Greene, Michael Ford, Tony Fiammetta and Dante Rosario inside; with Marquess Wilson and Eric Weems back deep. Wilson's role was as the primary blocker for Weems.
With the second team, Chris Williams was the punt returner. Armanti Edwards and Micheal Spurlock, who have been the primary returners the past week, did not return a punt. Obviously, the competition for the starting returner job is going to go deep into training camp.
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.