It seems like only yesterday we began our training camp diary but unfortunately, all good things come to an end. Chicago Bears 2014 Training Camp officially finished this morning with a two-hour practice in the coldest conditions of any practice in my four years covering the team. Under dark clouds, temperatures hovered in the low 60s, with a strong wind that made it feel much cooler.
Today’s session started out in shells but about halfway through, coach Marc Trestman had the players take off their pads. The remainder of practice was a glorified walkthrough.
ESPN’s Monday Night Football crew of Jon Gruden and Mike Tirico were in attendance, as was this year’s Miss Illinois, Marisa Buchheit.
Mills was in a walking boot and Trestman said he’s day to day.
“I really think it’s just day to day,” said Trestman. “He’s in that boot. He’s out of the boot. He’s doing the things he needs to do. I don’t want to put a time limit on this thing. We’ll just see. As I’ve always said, I’ve been consistent, when the trainers and doctors say he’s ready to go, he’ll be out here. I don’t make those decisions.”
Mills, who told me last week he’s just in discomfort from scar tissue, isn’t expected to miss any time in the regular season.
“Right now, as we look at it right now, they’ve looked at it closely from a lot of different directions and they feel that this time off will be sufficient,” Trestman said.
OL Brian de la Puente was not in attendance, although I did see him in the lunchroom after practice.
NOTES FROM DAY 14
Since there was very little to glean from practice today, which was without pads and loaded with special teams work, let’s break down the players who shined in this year’s camp, those that struggled and those with work left to do.
CB Kyle Fuller
Fuller appears to be the real deal. Day after day, he answered the call covering both Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Fuller is fearless and aggressive when the ball is in the air. Fuller is Day-1 ready and should have an immediate impact on defense this season.
CB Sherrick McManis
McManis is a core member of nearly every special teams unit and he looked very good in pass coverage as well. With Tillman not practicing today, McManis took first-team reps in base sets. He’s night-and-day better than he was last season and could be a contributor if any of the top three corners go down.
TE Zach Miller
Miller was having a strong camp even before his two-touchdown performance in the preseason opener. Since then, he’s split reps with Dante Rosario as the club’s No. 2 tight end. Miller runs solid routes, has good hands and has made the most of his opportunities. He scored two more touchdowns today and is on track for a roster spot.
“I think you’ve seen that [Miller] has done a very good job in his route running. He’s consistently catching the football. He’s making an impact certainly,” Trestman said. “He’s got a great skill set for running routes and catching the football. He also did a good job today in some of the run blocking as well. So he’s performing well. We’re happy where he is right now.”
P Patrick O’Donnell
O’Donnell has been inconsistent but he’s shown off his big leg on numerous occasions, sending balls 70-80 yards through the air. He’s worked his way into the first team as both the club’s punter and holder for Robbie Gould.
RB Shaun Draughn
Draughn has emerged as the top candidate to backup Matt Forte. He’s experienced in West Coast systems, runs with a low pad level, has solid hands and he’s good in pass protection. No other back has stood out, meaning Draughn will likely enter the season as Chicago’s No. 2 ball carrier.
WR Eric Weems
Weems is the frontrunner for both the punt and kick returner roles, and has taken numerous reps with the first team since Marquess Wilson’s injury. Weems has looked good as a pass catcher and could contribute in multiple roles this season.
S Danny McCray
McCray is a core member on special teams and has risen up the safety depth chart, getting the lion’s share of first-team reps the past two weeks. McCray was the surprise of camp and could play significant role on defense this year.
S Ryan Mundy
There is a lot of uncertainty at the Bears’ safety position, yet not with Mundy, who has taken firm hold of the starting gig. Mundy plays physical in the box and picked off a pass in the first preseason game. He’ll be lined up on the back end of the defense in Week 1.
DE Trevor Scott
Scott has played very well against both the run and pass, showing quickness off the edge and strength at the point of attack. He has a stranglehold on the club’s No. 4 defensive end spot.
OL Michael Ola
Ola has worked at every position but center along the offensive line, showing power, balance and a strong hand punch. With Britton and Mills on the shelf, Ola has worked as the club’s starting right tackle the past week. He’s on the verge of locking up a roster spot.
McClellin has struggled in coverage and had no impact at the point of attack in the preseason opener. His transition from defensive end to linebacker has not been smooth and he still has a long way to go.
Palmer has shown poor decision-making and an inconsistent arm. He’s fallen behind Jimmy Clausen in the race to be Chicago’s backup signal caller and, if he doesn’t step up in the preseason, Palmer could be looking for work in a few weeks.
Carey, Chicago's fourth-round rookie, hasn’t stood out at all in camp. He’s a fluid runner but he’s not fast and he’s inconsistent in pass protection. The team is going to keep Carey on the roster but he’s fallen to third on the depth chart.
Frey was struggling to make an impact in practice then pulled his hamstring. Frey, last year’s starting nickelback, could be out of a job following final cuts.
It was a nice story but Lynch isn’t in the team’s plans. He’s not big or fast and has been outplayed by nearly every other back on the roster. His career in the NFL may soon be coming to an end.
Allen hasn’t been impressive in 1-on-1 drills, getting routinely stonewalled by Jermon Bushrod, and missed a week of practice due to the birth of his daughter. He’ll likely be fine this season but Allen did very little the past three weeks to get Bears fans excited.
WORK LEFT TO DO
Williams was emerging as a weapon as both a receiver and a returner, yet hurt his hamstring on a 73-yard TD catch in the opener. He needs to get back on the field if he’s going to convince the coaching staff he’s durable enough to warrant a spot on the final 53-man roster.
Conte returned to practice this week after missing all of OTAs, minicamp and the first two weeks of training camp due to offseason shoulder surgery. He intercepted a pass in his second practice but was beat badly down the seam today. He still has a shot at earning the starting gig but for that to happen, he needs to shine over the next three weeks.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
After Conte slipped in his break and was beat down the hash, the Bourbonnais crowd turned on him with vitriol. After one bad play, the crowd was calling for his head. In response, Charles Tillman yelled, “Shut up!”
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.