Chicago Bears Rookie Minicamp Notebook: Day 2

A detailed breakdown of today's Chicago Bears Rookie Minicamp practice, which featured some impressive pass catchers and one very effective pass rusher.

The Chicago Bears conducted the second practice of rookie minicamp this morning.

This was my first session of the the three-day minicamp, as I was returning from vacation and was unable to attend yesterday's practice, which is why there was no Friday report.

The weather today at Halas Hall was unseasonably cold, with very high winds and temperatures in the low 40s.

Players were not in pads, wearing instead just shorts and jerseys. That will be the case throughout the off-season, as the pads won't come on until the third or fourth day of training camp.

Notes from Day 2

-Fifth-round RB Jordan Howard practiced fully yesterday but was not participating today. The Bears are not required to release any information regarding injuries until the regular season, so the reason for Howard's absence is unknown. He was present on the sidelines but did not even work during individual drills. 

Notable concerning Howard: he did not appear as big as I thought he would. For a player listed at 6-1, 230, I expected a round, fullback body type. Instead, Howard looked relatively fit, with no extra baggage around the middle. It appears most of that weight is muscle. 

-First-round OLB Leonard Floyd is tall and very thin. Having seen him up close at his post-draft press conference, he's just as spindly on the practice field. Yet Floyd's quickness stood out today, while he also showed good shiftiness and burst post-snap. His agility can make him difficult to block.

-Third-round DL Jonathan Bullard is bigger than I expected. He's 6-3, 285, which is by no mean small, but he has more thickness than I expected from a 3-technique. That girth should help him two-gap on run downs as a 5-technique.

On one snap during 11-on-11 drills, the offense ran a stretch play away from Bullard, who was lined up at defensive end. Bullard shot the gap and crossed the face of RT John Kling. Bullard ripped through the arm block and was in the backfield in an instant. He then chased down the ball carrier from behind.

Trench play is very difficult to evaluate without pads, so it's too early to make any concrete declarations about the offensive or defensive linemen. Yet this snap by Bullard showed why the coaching staff are so high on him as a penetrating, one-gap pass rusher.

"My get-off and my play recognition [are my strengths]," Bullard said after practice. "I do a good job of reading offensive linemen, kind of knowing what they're saying, kind of learning that throughout the game and getting the upper hand where I can shoot gaps and kind of expect blocks."

Bullard said he learned about the importance of a quick first snap from former Florida teammate Dominique Easley, who was a 2014 first-round pick of the New England Patriots.

"My freshman year when I came in and saw Dominique Easley get off the ball," said Bullard. "He had the fastest get-off I had ever seen and freshman year, that's who I was behind so I just watched him and see how much it helped him and I just picked up from it and it kind of stuck with me."

-The rumors about Deiondre Hall's arm length (34 3/8 inches) have not been exaggerated. He is absolutely, 100-percent as long as he's been described. His arm length, for a 199-pound defensive back, is freakish. 

"I didn’t really hit a growth spurt until my freshman year of college," said Hall. "So once I started filling-in to my body, that’s when it became a point of emphasis for a lot of the coaches to utilize that.”

Hall's size and wingspan are on an entirely different level in terms of NFL cornerbacks. Yet he's clearly a work in progress. On one snap today, he was beat on a sideline route by WR Darrin Peterson, who made a nice over-the-shoulder grab, while keeping his feet in bounds. Hall was not aware of the pass, never saw the ball coming and was not in a position to make a play on the ball.

Hall thought Peterson was out of bounds, and was vocal about that fact, but either way, he got beat.

-Fourth-round ILB Nick Kwiatkoski is very light on his feet. He's a patient linebacker who shows good elusiveness at the second level. His slippery ability to work around offensive lineman will make him hard to block at the second level.

-Fourth-round S Deon Bush played almost exclusively in the box today in both Cover 1 and Cover 3. Sixth rounder DeAndre Houston-Carson worked mainly as a free safety.

-Seventh-round WR Daniel Braverman is every bit as quick as most expected. He was a load for defensive backs all afternoon and was clearly the favorite target for QB Dalyn Williams.

Braverman made a handful of grabs on underneath routes, using his quickness and burst out of his break to consistently create separation. He doesn't have good size at all but as far as his skill set as a receiver, he's a legitimate NFL pass catcher.

Worth noting is Braverman's effort on a reverse play, in which he locked up the defender and blocked him well down the field for nearly 10 seconds. He's a gamer in every area.

-Second-round OL Cody Whitehair worked with the first team at left guard the entire afternoon. Without pads, he was tough to gauge, but he did shows good balance in pass sets.

-OLB Roy Robertson-Harris is a physical specimen. At 6-7, 255, he's taller and heavier than Leonard Floyd. Robertson-Harris doesn't have the same quickness as Floyd but he's agile enough and showed decent change-of-direction ability. A UDFA out of UTEP, he's worth keeping an eye on, as he has an NFL-caliber body, with decent movement skills.

-FB Paul Lasike, who was on Chicago's practice squad last season, was one of a handful of non-rookies to participate in today's practice. Lasike is a wide body (5-11, 232) who is very light on his feet and has good hands. If the Bears are going to roster a fullback this year, Lasike will very likely be that guy.

-Arguably the most impressive player today was WR Derek Keaton, a UDFA out of Georgia Southern. On one of the first snaps of team drills, Keaton carried CB Kevin Peterson, a UDFA out of Oklahoma State, on his back on a crossing route before making the catch.

Later, Keaton ran a fly route down the left sideline, beating CB Robert Porter to the front pylon and securing the touchdown in the end zone. It was a snap that showed Keaton's speed and his ability to track the deep ball. Very impressive.

Keaton was also one of four players returning punts during the special teams session, along with RB Romar Morris and WR Kieren Duncan, both tryout players, and Braverman.

-QB Sean Goldrich has good size but he's not an NFL QB, as he has highly questionable arm strength and decision making. On one snap, he threw a dead duck into traffic on a 15-yard seam route. I'm pretty sure I heard a few of the coaches laughing at the horrible throw.

-On the other hand, QB Dalyn Williams, from Dartmouth, had a strong afternoon. He connected with Keaton on the go-route TD, dropping the ball in perfectly over the top of the defense, and also found Darrin Peterson on the aforementioned sideline route. It was a beautiful touch pass that only the receiver could catch.

If Williams has another strong outing tomorrow, he might earn himself an invite to training camp.


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