Bears Training Camp Notebook: Day 2

We break down in detail the second practice of Chicago Bears 2015 Training Camp, a session that featured our first round of fisticuffs, an exciting catch from a diminutive receiver and more.

The Chicago Bears conducted their second practice of 2015 Training Camp this afternoon. The weather in Bourbonnais was hot, with temperatures in the mid-80s, and very muggy. The crowd today was better than yesterday but still not up to par with the last four seasons.

Today’s session was in shorts and jerseys. The pads come on tomorrow.

INJURIES

During positional drills, CB Kyle Fuller walked off the field and had his right leg taped up. He then finished individual work but never returned to the field during team drills.

“He tweaked his ankle,” head coach John Fox said after practice. “I don’t know the extent of it. I haven’t been inside to meet with the trainers. But we did back off of him some in the late part of practice.”

Rookie NT Eddie Goldman left practice early due to dehydration and TE Dante Rosario was excused for personal reasons.

DAY 2 NOTEBOOK

-About halfway through today’s practice, RB Jacquizz Rodgers took a handoff up the middle. DE Jarvis Jenkins swallowed up the diminutive running back as he hit the line of scrimmage but then refused to let him go. He whipped Rodgers all the way around his body trying to strip the ball well after the play had ended.

G Kyle Long then drilled Jenkins in the upper back. Jenkins then spun around and threw a punch to Long’s helmet, which knocked the Pro Bowl guard to the ground. At that point, cooler heads prevailed and the scuffle ended.

“This is a combative game played by combative people,” Fox said. “You try to discourage it but I’m sure this won’t be the last one, I can pretty much guarantee that. But like I said it’s a combative game played by combative people and you just do you best to keep our guys healthy.”

For the players, it was good to get the first on-field fight out of the way.

“That's a good thing,” Pernell McPhee said. “That's just like we're all family. You know, brothers fight. It's just being competitive, being one of the guys out there.”

“It's fun,” said Eddie Royal. “That's what football's about, getting after it a little bit. But at the end of the day, we're all family. People with family, you fight with your brothers and everything, but at the end of the day, you love each other and you're willing to fight for each other. That's what you want. You want everybody to go as hard as they can and sometimes a fight's going to happen, then you shake hands at the end of the day, and when it comes time to play somebody else you'll be that much closer.”

-Earlier in practice, Long reached the second level on a run block and threw ILB Christian Jones to the ground. Jones responded by standing up with his arms out, while Long just walked away.

We all know Long is one of the fiercest competitors on this team and it appears he’s chomping at the bit to get the pads on.

-During team drills, QB Jay Cutler dropped back to pass and let fly a 40-yard bomb toward the right sideline. WR Eddie Royal was covered by CB Tim Jennings running up the sideline. Royal undercut the defender and then skied into the air and hauled in the pass.

It was, by far, the most impressive catch I’ve seen the entire off-season.

“I just went up and got the ball,” Royal said after practice. “I don’t know how high I was. A couple of the guys said I was pretty high up there.”

Royal has looked very good since voluntary minicamp. He looks bigger than his 5-10, 185-pound frame and he’s extremely quick in and out of his breaks. He brings an element of shiftiness that this team has lacked for years and he should be an outstanding addition to the passing attack this year.

-Outside linebackers coach Clint Hurtt put his players through bag drills, focusing on footwork and hand technique, not speed. Notable during the drill was the hand punch of OLB Lamarr Houston, who was sending the bags to the ground.

Houston then participated in team drills for the first time since his ACL tear, working with the second team. He did not show any signs of hesitancy or any type of limp. He said yesterday he’s 100-percent healed and he showed that today.

-During individual drills, the cornerbacks and safeties worked with a medicine ball. They lined up as if in the nickel position and the ball was thrown at their knees. The players had to put their hands down and knock the ball away, then set the edge against a lead blocker before shedding the block and attacking the ball carrier.

It was an impressive drill, one that shows this new staff’s desire to build fundamentals through hand usage, a necessary trait for successful defenders in today’s NFL.

-TE Zach Miller has looked good the past two days. With Rosario out, Miller took the majority of his reps with the first team in two-tight-end sets. He’s fully healthy, he’s moving very well and he has great hands.

During positional drills, Miller made a beautiful over-the-shoulder grab on a sideline route, something no other tight end on the roster was able to accomplish. If Miller can stay healthy, which is a major concern, he can have an impact in the passing game this year.

-WR Marquess Wilson had the second best catch of the day, grabbing a ball near the sideline in between three defenders. Wilson is working with the first team and has been throughout offseason activities.

Folks keep talking about Kevin White and his potential but Wilson is entering his third year, the season in which most receivers take the next step, and he’s looked very good of late. With White still sidelined, Wilson is further ingraining himself in the offense and has a lot of potential if he can stay on the field this year.

-RB Ka’Deem Carey is not showing good awareness. On one play, a hole as big as a Mach truck opened on the left side and he ran right into the middle of the pile. If that lack of vision is noticeable to me, it’s noticeable to the coaching staff as well.

Carey could explode in the preseason but he’s hanging on to his roster spot by a thread right now.

-The Bears used a revolving door of kick returners today, including Marquess Wilson, A.J. Cruz, Jacquizz Rodgers, Senorise Perry, Levi Norwood, Marc Mariani, Terrance Mitchell and John Chiles. Obviously, that position is wide open.

“Let’s be honest: we’re trying to evaluate the best 53 guys that we can get,” said Fox. “They may be here now. They may be somewhere else. I don’t know. So we have kind of open tryouts.”

-Offensive coordinator Adam Gase was using the walkie talkie to call in plays to his quarterback’s helmets. It was the first time this off-season Gase has called plays in from the sidelines.

-There were a number of pass breakups from balls thrown by Jimmy Clausen. Sherrick McManis, Tracy Porter and Mason Foster each nearly picked off a pass. All were great plays by the defenders but the common denominator here is Clausen, who has not shown anything since OTAs.

-On one play during 11-on-11 drills, TE Martellus Bennett ran a drag route behind the linebackers. Neither Christian Jones nor Shea McClellin, both of whom were in zone coverage, had any idea the wide-open Bennett was right behind them.

Obviously, those two youngsters need some work on their coverage recognition.

-I’ve been talking about Alshon Jeffery since voluntary minicamp and he just continues to impress on the field. On one play today, he ran a five-yard in route and had CB Alan Ball on his back, literally. The pass from Cutler was a missile, as he was trying to get the ball there before the defender, and it stuck in Jeffery’s gut. He then shed Ball and turned up the field.

That was an extremely difficult catch to make, considering the coverage and the speed of the pass, yet Jeffery made it look easy. Only injury can stop Jeffery from tearing up the league this year.

-During kick return drills, Will Sutton and Cornelius Washington served as the two-man wedge leading the kick returner.

Washington has also been a part of nearly every other special teams unit and today took reps with the second team at 5-technique, which bodes well for his chance at securing a roster spot. He’s added 20 pounds of muscle and looks like an absolute beast, so don’t sleep on Washington.

-Yesterday, Charles Leno worked as the third-team center. Today, Ryan Groy worked at center with the third team.


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.

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