Mills and Allen practice
Due to the occurrence of scare tissue in his surgically repaired left foot, Chicago Bears RT Jordan Mills has not practiced or played with the team since August 6. This afternoon, Mills returned to practice, although in a limited fashion, participating in individual drills but not the team portions.
It’s unlikely Mills will return Friday night against the Seattle Seahawks but he said he expects to practice fully on Monday, which is good news for Chicago’s offensive line.
Coordinator Aaron Kromer said there is little concern about Mills not being ready to go, mentally or physically, once the regular season begins.
“Jordan Mills had a lot of practice before being injured. So we believe that he could be ready physically and mentally due to the practice he had in training camp prior to getting hurt,” Kromer said. “Obviously we’d like him back as soon as we can. We’re lucky to be in a situation right now where the backup Michael Ola went in and played well in the game. So it’s really on Jordan to come back in and be ready.”
In other good news, defensive end Jared Allen practiced in full today after missing yesterday’s session with a sore shoulder. He should be ready to go Friday.
Conte to play
Safety Chris Conte said after practice he’s been cleared medically from offseason shoulder surgery and will play against the Seahawks. It will be Conte’s first action since the season finale last year.
“He's had a good week of practice. He's running around. He's involved in terms of what we're doing. So we'll see,” coach Marc Trestman said. “He's going to play. It looks certainly that he's going to play and we haven't decided how much yet. But he'll be out there and he'll be competing and he's back in it to try to show us what he can do and we're excited to have him back.”
Conte still in the mix to reclaim his starting position, although Trestman said there won’t be any expectations for fourth-year veteran this week.
“I don't know if there's a litany of things we want him to do,” said Trestman. “First of all, we just want him to play and have an opportunity to go out there and compete. I don't have a list of things that he's got to get done to put him in a position to start or be on our football team or whatever it might be. It's simply, he's getting an opportunity every day in practice, this is the first time he's really going at it.”
If Conte shines in the next two preseason games, don’t be surprised if he’s in the starting lineup alongside Ryan Mundy in Week 1.
Williams will return
The Bears expect WR/KR Chris Williams to suit up on Friday as well. Williams hurt his hamstring in the preseason opener on a 73-yard touchdown reception. He practiced this week and is expect to play.
This is really good new for the Bears, who are desperate for someone to step up as the club’s kick returner. Williams has lights-out speed and homerun potential every time he touches the ball. If he can stay healthy – a big “if” for a 5-8, 175-pound player who played just a handful of snaps before getting hurt – he’ll easily help cure what has ailed Chicago’s return game during the preseason.
Williams also has value on offense as a straight-line runner who will force safeties out of the box, so it’s imperative he returns to the field and solidifies his spot on the 53-man roster.
"We need to see him be productive," said Trestman. "He was when he was playing the last time as a receiver, he made some plays, and he was productive in practice. We want to see that certainly come into play again on Friday night. Hopefully we’ll give him an opportunity to get a couple returns and see what he can do with the ball in his hands as well."
Team undecided on Holmes
Trestman said the team has not yet decided if new wide receiver Santonio Holmes will play Friday, although he said he’d like to see the veteran on the field.
"I really don’t know. I’d like him to dress," Trestman said. "I haven’t had a chance to talk to him and where he is. As I said yesterday, we want to get him in there as quickly as possible. We also want to respect him and do the right thing. We don’t want to put him in a position where he can hurt himself or hurt our football team. We’ll have that talk, I’ll talk to [receivers coach] Mike Groh about it and I’ll talk to Santonio about it and see how he feels about getting some playing time on Friday night.
It’s safe to assume QB Jay Cutler would also like Holmes to play, as Cutler is expected to play well into the second quarter.
“He’s probably, to be honest he’s a little bit rusty,” Cutler said yesterday. “He’s been out of football. But getting in and out of cuts, catches the ball well, extremely explosive, fast. He’s exciting. We’ve just got to get him caught up with everything right now. It’s hard coming in where we are offensively and just kind of throwing him into the mix.”
Time on the field with the Cutler and the first team will help lessen Holmes’ learning curve.
The Bears are desperate for Holmes to pan out, as it appears the broken collarbone Marquess Wilson suffered will likely keep him out through the first half of the regular season. I expect Holmes to play, although his snaps might be limited.
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.