Bears Training Camp Notebook: Day 12

We empty the notebook from the 12th practice of Chicago Bears 2015 Training Camp, a session that featured Jay Cutler’s first interception, a new starting safety and much more.

The Chicago Bears conducted the 12th practice of 2015 Training Camp this afternoon. It was an exceptionally hot afternoon, with humidity you could almost see with the naked eye.

The Bears participated in shells today: helmets, shoulder pads and shorts. This wasn’t surprising, as it appears head coach John Fox wanted to reduce contact in practice following Thursday’s preseason opener.

INJURIES

The big news of the day was the announcement that Kevin White will need surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left shin. White will be placed on Return/PUP, meaning he could return as early as Week 6, although GM Ryan Pace said there’s a chance he could miss the entire regular season.

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Pace also addressed Alshon Jeffery’s calf injury, which held him out of the preseason opener.

“He has a mild calf strain,” Pace said. “He's not going to participate vs. Indianapolis. But this isn't a long-term injury with Alshon.”

TE Chris Pantale is sick and did not participate. Neither did RB Daniel Thomas, who was getting treatment on a swollen knee.

CB Tim Jennings took a veteran day off.

NOTES FROM DAY 12

The play of the day came from LB Shea McClellin. During 11-on-11 drills, the offense lined up with TE Martellus Bennett wide left.

As I pointed out in an earlier camp notebook, the Bears like to run Bennett on slants from that spot on the field. We saw it during the first preseason game.

On this snap, Bennett again cut across the field. QB Jay Cutler fired a pass over the middle but McClellin slipped under the slant route and picked off the pass. It was Cutler’s first interception of training camp.

“I’m glad,” McClellin said after practice. “Linebackers finally got one, so that’s good, and I finally got one as well. I think it’s good. You want to break that streak. You don’t want to have no interceptions as a defense.”

The fact Cutler went 11-plus practices without an interception is exceptional and McClellin earned this pick. He diagnosed the play, cut swiftly on a bullet pass and snatched the ball out of the air over his head. McClellin has had a strong camp this year and played well in the preseason opener, and this play just furthers his progress at inside linebacker.

-S Adrian Amos worked alongside Antrel Rolle with the starting unit today. S Brock Vereen, who has been a first-team staple since OTAs, worked with the second team.

“We thought enough of him to draft [Amos],” Fox said. “He's earned where he is. I don't know if that's the way it'll stay. It's not where you start the race it's where you finish it. He's earned that and we'll go from there.”

Vereen struggled in the preseason opener, getting run over on a tackle attempt and then allowing a touchdown catch. On the flip side, Amos, the club’s fifth-round rookie, has shown outstanding coverage skills, so it’s a well-deserved promotion.

Yet this says more about Ryan Mundy than anyone else. It appears the Bears are willing to put anyone but Mundy, who started 16 games and led the team in tackles last year, into the starting lineup. I’m not sure why Mundy is in the doghouse but the new staff obviously doesn’t think highly of him.

-During red-zone drills, Amos lined up across from TE Dante Rosario in the left slot. WR Eddie Royal was lined up left of Rosario, across from CB Tracy Porter. At the snap, the two receivers crossed on a pick play, for which Amos was not ready. He collided with Porter, which opened up the underneath lane for Royal, who caught the easy touchdown pass.

Most rookies go through growing pains and obviously Amos is no exception. Worth noting is offensive coordinator Adam Gase’s consistent use of two-man rub plays, particularly in the end zone.

-With receivers White and Jeffery sidelined, Josh Bellamy and Marc Mariani split time as the No. 3 wideout with the first team. Mariani has been surprisingly solid as a pass catcher and has made a number of plays during camp. In addition, he has value as a kick returner.

Considering White’s prognosis, I think Mariani’s roster spot is borderline locked up. And if Bellamy can take advantage of this opportunity, he could find his way onto the final 53-man roster.

-Here are the players who returned kicks today (we’re down to five): Terrance Mitchell, Marquess Wilson, Senorise Perry, Marc Mariani, A.J. Cruz.

Here are the four players who returned punts: Mariani, Cruz, Levi Norwood, Eddie Royal.

-During team drills, quarterback Jimmy Clausen dropped back to pass. RB Ka’Deem Carey cleared the line of scrimmage and ran a hitch in the middle underneath zone. Clausen fired the pass but the ball was tipped up in the air. Carey tracked the ball and made an impressive diving catch.

Carey had a solid outing in the first preseason game (7 rushes, 34 yards, 1 TD) and followed it up with a strong practice. Carey was a long shot to make the roster coming into camp, and still has an uphill climb ahead of him, but he’s not going down without a fight.

-With Jennings out, CB Sherrick McManis served as the first-team nickelback. When Jennings was out previously, Demontre Hurst filled in at nickel, but today it was McManis.

McManis had a very good game on Thursday, leading the team in tackles, while adding a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup. He’s now getting first-team reps in the slot, which means the coaching staff has plans for McManis this season.

-I cannot count how many naked bootlegs that result in a pass to the flat I’ve seen this off-season. The bootleg is alive and well in Chicago under Gase.

-One of the best plays of the day came during first-team 11-on-11 drills. WR Eddie Royal ran a wheel route to the left side. Shea McClellin trailed the route, with S Antrel Rolle breaking forward on Royal’s cut. Yet as Rolle approached in coverage, Royal broke up-field and flew past the safety, with McClellin trailing helplessly. Cutler then hit Royal for a wide-open touchdown pass.

With White out indefinitely, expect Royal to pick a lot of the slack in the passing game.

-The second-team offensive line: LT Charles Leno, LG Vladimir Ducasse, C Hroniss Grasu, RG Conor Boffeli, RT Michael Ola.

Of note is the presence of Boffeli, who has been a third-team staple to this point. Boffeli has struggled in practice but looked good against the Dolphins, which obviously earned him a promotion.


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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