The Chicago Bears conducted the first practice of rookie minicamp this afternoon. It was a beautiful day in Lake Forest, with sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 70s.
The organization this year has completely overhauled the media policy, which I believe deserves a thorough explanation, as it will affect the coverage of this team from every media outlet going forward.
The Bears no longer allow video or still shots taken beyond the first 10 minutes of practice. Gone are the days when we could film the rookies throughout practice to give the fans a better idea of their skill sets.
The Bears no longer allow media to report on the specifics of practice, including who is playing where and with what team (starters, backups, etc.).
Today, the rookies conducted team drills on the far practice field, 80 yards from Halas Hall. Media were not allowed to walk over to the far field to see the practice and were forced to stand within 15 yards of Halas Hall. As such, it was nearly impossible to see who was playing, how they looked and what the team was able to accomplish on the field.
In addition, players were not available on the field for interviews following practice.
So in essence, we can’t watch practice, film practice, talk about practice or talk to any players other than those the media relations department trots out that day.
This lack of access will not only hurt the coverage of this team but for some, restricting access to 1/100th of what it was just four years ago is going to legitimately compromise their ability to do their job.
So with that, here is what I was able to cobble together today.
Notes from Day 1
“I don’t want to report about anything that happens on the field, especially in these camps,” he said.
Following practice, Goldman’s press conference was canceled because he was getting treatment from the training staff.
-First-round wide receiver Kevin White looked like a man among boys during the brief practice session.
He showed good hands, the ability to adjust to off-target passes and solid route running. White sinks his hips quickly when heading into his break and explodes out of it. I was surprised at the quickness of his cuts. He’s far and away a better route runner than was Alshon Jeffery during rookie minicamp in 2012.
From what I could see 70 yards away, I saw at least four passes Carden completed to White, who just dominated during the team drills.
“He [played] predominantly on the right side in [West Virginia’s] offense, so moving him around a little bit is going to be different for him, but I don't think intelligence-wise we have any concerns with him,” coordinator Adam Gase said after practice. “We brought him in for his interview and he was outstanding, picked up what we taught him very quickly and was able to bring it back to us. I think he's going to fit in well with us.”
When you see high-round draft picks in rookie minicamp, they should stand out as the best players on the field. White did just that today, which is a great sign for the passing attack.
-All three of the quarterbacks on the field – Carden, Northern Arizona’s Chase Cartwright and journeyman Patrick Devlin – were very inaccurate. Devlin specifically was off target throughout the entire session.
Carden did develop nice rapport with White and was able to consistently utilize his best weapon, yet even he struggled to accurately locate balls during positional drills. It’s only been one practice but it’s going to be tough for Carden to de-seat David Fales as the team’s developmental passer.
-Fourth-round running back Jeremy Langford was one of the fastest players on the field. His speed wasn’t as evident during positional drills but during 11-on-11s, he was a burner, slicing through the offensive line at top speed.
His straight-line speed is going to be a big boost to Chicago’s offense this season.
-TE Alex Deleon (6-2, 244), a tryout player from Florida Atlantic, is a lumbering player who lacks balance – his fell on his face making his cut on a stop route during positional drills – yet he looked pretty good during the team work.
On one 11-on-11 snap, Deleon ran a deep drag and made a nice hands grab in traffic with a defender on his back. With Martellus Bennett’s future with the team uncertain, a player like Deleon could sneak onto the training camp roster.
-During team drills, a pair of UDFAs had impressive pass breakups. CB Qumain Black (East Central) and CB Bryce Callahan (Rice) both broke on passes in front of them, showing good quickness and recognition, and knocked away the pass in front of the receiver.
-Baylor WR Levi Norwood was the only player returning punts during special teams drills.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fifth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.