Chicago Bears OTA Notebook: Week 2

A jam-packed notebook full of observations from today's Chicago Bears OTA practice session, including some impressive safety play, a new kicker competition and much more.

The Chicago Bears this afternoon conducted the second practice of organized team activities (OTAs). 

With rain covering the entire Chicago area, the Bears practiced indoors at the Walter Payton Center at Halas Hall. As usual it was a non-padded practice, with players wearing just jerseys and shorts. 

Injuries

-WR Alshon Jeffery was, once again, not present for today's session. He's working out on his own and obviously has no intentions of joining the team until his paychecks are on the line. 

Also absent was OLB Pernell McPhee, who is still recovering from knee surgery. S Adrian Amos, who did not practice last week as he recovers from off-season shoulder surgery, did participate in the individual sessions and the first portion of team drills, yet sat out the rest of practice. 

TE Greg Scruggs, who was too winded to finish practice last week, did not suit up today. DT Will Sutton, who was sick last week, was back on the field this afternoon. 

The mystery surrounding fifth-round rookie RB Jordan Howard continues, as he continued to watch from the sidelines today with an undisclosed issue. I've been privy to four Bears practices this off-season and I'm yet to see Howard do anything. 

Notebook

-After individual drills, head coach John Fox split the field into two 7-on-7 units, with the starters working in the red zone on one end and the backups on the other side of the field. Of note was RB Jeremy Langford, who worked with the second team, while Jacquizz Rodgers and Ka'Deem Carey worked with the first team. Later in practice, Langford rotated with the first team, but it's clear the Bears are going to make Langford earn the starting role. 

-During the dual sessions, QB Brian Hoyer struggled to find open receivers. His main target was WR Kieren Duncan, with whom Hoyer failed to connect on three straight passes. On the third attempt, a deep post, Hoyer threw a poor ball and was intercepted by S DeAndre Houston-Carson. This is the second week in a row Hoyer hasn't looked sharp on the field. 

-On a jump ball in the front corner of the end zone, ILB Danny Trevathan was on TE Zach Miller like a glove. Trevathan's prowess in coverage is well documented and I finally got an opportunity to see his second-level ability in action. He's an extremely impressive all-around defender. 

-Not to be outdone, fellow ILB Jerrell Freeman also had a quality pass breakup, reaching in front of WR Marquess Wilson on a shallow drag to knock the ball away. Freeman is considered a downhill thumper but he's adept in coverage as well. 

-With the first team, QB David Fales tossed a ball that would've landed 14 rows deep in the stands, while QB Matt Blanchard missed a wide-open TE Rob Housler on a crossing route in the back of the end zone. Other than Jay Cutler, the quarterback play has been sub-par the past two weeks. 

-The Bears cut two significant offensive line leaders this off-season in Jermon Bushrod and Matt Slauson. As such, it appears Kyle Long has fully accepted and embraced his role as the leader of the club's front five. 

On the sidelines during team drills, I saw him giving rookie Cody Whitehair advice on his technique. Later, he was working hard with RT Bobby Massie to help diagnose a defensive stunt and build chemistry. 

Following the first two-minute drill, Long came off the field yelling: "We gotta get chunks every (bleeping) play!" Then, after Cutler tossed a TD in team drills, Long became extremely amped and found Cutler as they walked off the field: "Nice throw six!"

Long is a natural leader, so seeing him guiding his teammates now that Bushrod and Slauson are gone is no surprise. Long is the future face of the franchise and will continue to be a vocal leader for as long as he's in Chicago. 

-Chris Prosinski and Harold Jones-Quartey are still the current starting safeties. Rookie Deon Bush and Demontre Hurst worked with the second team. 

Also in the secondary, Bryce Callahan continues to man the starting nickelback position. 

-One of the most impressive pass breakups of the day came from second-year CB De'Vante Bausby, who stayed in the hip of WR Josh Bellamy, running a mid-tier drag route, and tipped away a high throw from Hoyer. 

-One one snap, first-round rookie OLB Leonard Floyd lined up on the edge but split out to the slot before the snap. He manned up on TE Ben Braunecker and let fly a wicked chuck at the line of scrimmage. Floyd stayed physical through the five-yard chuck zone, almost to a fault, as he probably would've been called for pass intereference. Either way, he did not back down in the least against Braunecker, who is a highly athletic tight end. 

Later in the session, Floyd beat RT Nick Becton on a speed rush around the edge for the sack. Additionally - and I know I've brought this up before but it's worth mentioning again - no one pursues the ball from the backside with more aggression than Floyd. Don't be surprised if a good portion of his tackles this season are the result of his relentless backside pursuit. 

Finally, during a stretch run to his side of the field, Floyd showed outstanding arm extension against TE Gannon Sinclair. As the ball carrier approached, Floyd threw Sinclair inside with ease, yet Sinclair grabbed hold and pulled Floyd to the ground. It would have been an easy holding call in a real game. After the play, DL Ego Ferguson got in Sinclair's face and told him: "You can't do that man."

-CB Taveze Calhoun, a UDFA out of Mississippi State, had a quality PBU against RB Senorise Perry on a flat route. Two plays later, Calhoun was in man coverage against Bellamy, who ran a hitch-and-go. Calhoun bit on the first move and was burned badly deep down the field. Calhoun has some potential but getting beat on a double move is a bad play to put on film for the coaching staff. 

On the next play, WR Daniel Braverman caught a bubble screen and Calhoun crushed him, dropping the rookie to the turf. These are non-contact practices, yet Calhoun clearly took out his frustrations on the diminutive Braverman. 

-WR Eddie Royal looks very quick and had a good practice. The highlight came on a deep out pattern during 11-on-11 drills. Royal was manned up against CB Tracy Porter and used an inside head fake that left Porter utterly stunned. This allowed Royal to create easy separation as he broke toward the sideline. Cutler found the wide-open Royal 25 yards down the field. 

During special teams drills, Royal and WR Kevin White worked with Cutler on slant, in and bubble routes, ostensibly to build chemistry and fine tune their timing. 

-WR Kieren Duncan continues to make plays. During team drills, working with the third team, Duncan found open space on a deep drag and made a nice sliding catch. This elicited some love from the coaching staff, including receivers coach Curtis Johnson. 

When watching practice, I always pay attention to the coaches, particularly the position coaches. If they're talking up a certain player, that always bodes well for that player's shot at making the roster. Johnson has been praising Duncan since rookie minicamp. 

-Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains is almost always in Jay Cutler's hip. Those two are borderline inseparable. 

-Here is your first team kickoff unit: Senorise Perry, Deonte Thompson, Lamin Barrow, Sherrick McManis, Chris Prosinski, Robbie Gould, Josh Bellamy, Jonathan Anderson, Sam Acho, Demontre Hurst and Jacoby Glenn. 

Remember, special teams units are a great way to get a read on the guys who have the edge at filling out the bottom part of the roster. 

-Also notable was the use of P Ben LeCompte on kickoffs with the second unit. LeCompte is competing with Patrick O'Donnell for the starting punter role but he also has a shot at securing kickoff duties, an area in which Robbie Gould has always struggled. There may not be any competition for Gould on field goals but it's clear the Bears are aware of his deficiencies on kickoffs. 

-Both Jones-Quartey and Prosinski had quality pass breakups during team drills. They are making the most of their opportunities with Amos halfway on the shelf. 

-RB Ka'Deem Cary easily beat OLB Willie Young on a swing route in the left flat for a red zone touchdown. Young is not great in space. 

-On one snap, Cutler ran a play action naked bootleg and fired a pass to TE Rob Housler. In coverage was, of all people, DL Eddie Goldman. I did not see if it was a zone blitz but that's the only reason that makes sense for Goldman to be covering a tight end man-to-man. 

-The starting defensive line is DE Mitch Unrein, NT Goldman and DE Akiem Hicks. The second-team defensive line is DE Will Sutton, NT Ego Ferguson and DE Cornelius Washington. Don't write off Washington just yet. 

-OL Manny Ramirez worked with the second team at RG and with the third team at C. During team drills, he and Hoyer fumbled a snap. Not good. 

-During the two-minute drill, the defense ran a double A-gap blitz. The offense countered with a screen play, which was the perfect call. Out in front of the ball carrier was LT Charles Leno, who showed good agility and awareness in finding Willie Young and driving him out of the running back's path. 

-There were a ton of play action passes today. 

-Late in practice, CB Kyle Fuller was beat for touchdowns on back-to-back plays. Just par for the course at this point. 

-On the final two snaps of the day, Floyd beat RT Jason Weaver for a sack using an inside counter move. On the next play, he tried to duck his shoulder and turn the corner, yet Weaver shoved him four yards past the pocket. That weak stuff won't work in the NFL son. 


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