The Chicago Bears conducted the second practice of 2016 Training Camp this afternoon.
Like yesterday, the crowd was very sparse. Some on the Bears beat believe the first two days of camp this year have been the least-populated openers of any camp in recent history. I guess that's what happens when you win 11 games the last two years combined.
That said, a much larger crowd is expected this weekend.
The weather this afternoon was hot and muggy, although considerable cloud coverage made it bearable for long stretches. Still, everyone in attendance surely took a shower when they got home.
Former Bears tight end Dez Clark was present today.
-G Kyle Long suffered a calf strain yesterday and did not practice today. For the second day in a row I saw him at lunch with his left foot in a walking boot.
John Fox said there is no timetable for Long's return.
"I don't put time frames on it because I don't know and so I can't tell you," Fox said. "We just take it day-to-day. It's a calf strain and it was mentioned that he's in a boot, well that kind of helps facilitate the healing of a calf strain."
-OLB Leonard Floyd, who left yesterday's practice early due to sickness, did not practice today. I did see him at the cafeteria and he appears fine, so this is likely a precautionary measure.
-Also out today were TE Khari Lee (shoulder), OL Nick Becton (illness) and OLB Roy Robertson-Harris (illness).
-Three players left practice today due to cramping: CB Bryce Callahan, DE Ego Ferguson and Josh Bellamy. CB Brandon Boykin left early due to a pectoral strain, while NT Terry Williams left with a shoulder injury.
Day 2 Notebook
-Footing was an issue for the pass catchers today. There was some rain overnight, which apparently made the practice field slippery. I saw little Kieren Duncan (5-11, 175) fall three times during positional drills.
That said, it's clear that Duncan easily has the best burst of all the team's wideouts. His 0-to-60 time is exceptional and his 4.25 40-yard dash translates to the playing field.
-Back in OTAs, I wrote about the issues WR Kevin White had with drops. His first few practices were filled with balls bouncing off his hands.
That's no longer the case, as White has been sucking up balls like a vacuum during training camp. I haven't seen him drop a ball in nearly two months.
White has been most effective on deep crossing routes. I wrote yesterday about a deep cross the utilized Alshon Jeffery underneath. Today, he was wide open on a 20-yard cross during two-minute drills. Two plays later, White beat CB Kyle Fuller on another 20-yard cross. At the end of the play, OLB Lamarr Houston helped White to the ground and then sat on him. This elicited a string of obscenities from offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, which Houston just waived off.
White is developing rapidly within the offense and he's taking full advantage of the extra attention Jeffery receives. Yet he's not making every play.
During the first 7-on-7 session, White ran an intermediate out route at 12 yards. He couldn't create any separation out of his break and Fuller was able to knock the pass away. It was a strong play by Fuller.
Two snaps later, White ran a go route up the right sideline. It was against zone coverage and S Harold Jones-Quartey was a step slow getting to the sideline. Jay Cutler let fly one of his majestic deep balls but White slowed up and turned back to the ball just a half second too early and the ball bounced off his fingertips. If White waits half a step before adjusting to the ball, it's a 40-yard gain. White and Cutler had trouble connecting on deep balls during off-season programs and it's clear they still aren't completely on the same page on those deep fly routes.
-The first 11-on-11 session was a live drill with the offense trying to drive the length of the field. The first two plays were screen passes to RB Jeremy Langford, yet the speed of the defense never allowed either screen to open up. DE Ego Ferguson did a good job of working laterally to find Langford on 2nd down. On 3rd down, Langford beat ILB Jonathan Anderson on a flare route near the sideline to pick up the first down.
A lot has been made of Langford's drops last year but it's clear Loggains isn't going to shy away from calling 33's number in the passing game.
Later in practice, Langford ran a stretch run left. The play was well blocked and Langford turned the corner. Once he hit the sidelines he turned on his jets and his speed was eye opening. He may have some areas of improvement but the Bears are going to stick with Langford for the time being due to his exceptional explosiveness and big-play ability.
-With Long on the shelf, Ted Larsen took over at right guard with the first team, with Cody Whitehair at left guard and Hroniss Grasu at center. Whitehair is also rotating at center with the third team, where he had a very bad shotgun snap late in practice.
-WR Daniel Braverman just continues to make plays. Early in practice he ran a crossing route and made a tough grab in traffic with CB Deiondre Hall on his back. Braverman would later beat Hall on a quick slant. Hall tried to hand check at the line of scrimmage but Braverman was too quick on his cut and avoided the contact.
Later, Braverman caught an eight-yard pass on a quick route against ILB Jarrett Grace, in which he created an easy three yards of separation, then caught another 5-yard hitch in which he sat in the soft spot against zone coverage.
I've been raving about Braverman since rookie minicamp and nothing has changed since. He has the quickest feet and best route running of any receiver on the team, and he always finds a way to get open.
If he continues to dominate once the pads come on, Braverman is going to be a serious contender for the starting slot role.
-TE Greg Scruggs struggled as a blocker yesterday and wasn't any better as a pass catcher today. On one snap, he ran a quick out but never looked back for the ball, which bounced off his hip. Right now, Scruggs looks like first-cut material.
-During the first 7-on-7 session, WR Josh Bellamy had a nice catch on a deep cross with a defender on his back. Later, Bellamy caught a 15-yard pass on a crossing route in which he created four yards of separation from CB Sherrick McManis. Bellamy has been consistent the entire off-season.
-Undrafted CB De'Vante Bausby had a good practice. In team drills, he had a pass breakup against WR Deonte Thompson, reaching over the receiver on a hitch route. During the following 7-on-7 session, Bausby nearly intercepted a Brian Hoyer pass that was behind WR Cameron Meredith. Bausby had a third PBU later in practice.
The Bears are weak at corner and plays like those from the 6-2 Bausby are going to leave an impression on the coaching staff.
-DE Akiem Hicks was the MVP of today's practice. Early on he shut down an off-tackle run by tossing Ted Larsen around like a rag doll. This got Hicks fired up, with him yelling "That's what I'm talking about!"
Later, Hicks crashed down on a stunt and drove Grasu five yards deep into the backfield. Then, during the final team session, Hicks had back-to-back sacks.
The first came using a bull rush against Larsen, who had no chance in a one-on-one situation with the massive Hicks. On the following play, poor TE Gannon Sinclair was tasked with blocking Hicks, who tore right through the block attempt and into Cutler's face. Cutler had to throw the ball into the dirt in disgust. Hicks was hyped up after each sack, letting out screams that could be heard throughout ONU campus.
I have a feeling that when the pads come on tomorrow, we're going to see Hicks' true potential as a dangerously disruptive 5-technique for Chicago's defense.
-Bryce Callahan worked at nickel with the first team but also at boundary corner with the second team. They worked him at both positions during veteran minicamp as well.
When Callahan went down, Demontre Hurst took over in the slot with the first team, with Sherrick McManis at nickel with the second team.
-Speaking of McManis, he took reps at safety for the first time since the team traded for him in 2012, lining up alongside DeAndre Houston-Carson with the third team. McManis was a failure in the slot but his 6-1 frame could have value on the back end.
-OLB Lamarr Houston had another strong day and consistently set the edge against the run. Late in practice, Houston pushed RT Jason Weaver six yards into the backfield, nearly knocking over QB Brian Hoyer in the process. After the pass was released, Hosuton stared down Weaver and had words.
Houston is an intense competitor whose had his fair share of on-field scuffles with teammates during his two-plus seasons in Chicago. It's only the second day of camp, so it appears he's just getting started.
-On a bubble screen to Jeffery, WR Eddie Royal got out in front of the play and drove the corner 15 yards down the field. It was an impressive block from a 5-10 slot receiver.
Later, Royal beat CB Tracy Porter on a deep post, catching a perfect strike from Cutler between the hashes.
-During the first-team two-minute drill, the final third-down play was ended after DE Cornelius Washington beat Larsen and sacked Cutler. I've said all along do not sleep on Washington, who is working mainly with the second team but is seeing occasional first-team reps.
-Third-round DT Jonathan Bullard is working mainly with the third team but he did take some second-team reps today. On one snap, he shot across the face of the guard and stuffed a run play from the backside. Later, he pushed G Donovan Williams six yards backward into the quarterback's face.
-The second-team offensive line: LT Adrian Bellard, LG Martin Wallace, C Cornelius Edison, RG Donovan Williams, RT Jason Weaver.
-RB Jordan Howard made a couple of nice catches in the passing game. On one snap, he beat fellow rookie ILB Nick Kwiatkoski on a flat route before turning up the field.
-Here is the first-team kick return unit. Up front: Sherrick McManis, Jonathan Anderson, Chris Prosinski, Lamin Barrow, Christian Jones, Josh Bellamy. Mid: Sam Acho, Will Sutton and Mitch Unrein as the wedge, and Jacquizz Rodgers as the up-back. Deonte Thompson is the No. 1 kick returner.
When Bellamy was injured midway through practice, Cameron Meredith replaced him on the first-team kick return unit. Later, Ka'Deem Carey took over as the first-team up-back, replacing Rodgers. That's significant, as Carey is battling Rodgers for a roster spot and showing special teams value will be key for Carey.
-QB Connor Shaw looks much more decisive than David Fales. Shaw is quicker with his decisions and more accurate with his throws.
During team drills, Shaw threw a 20-yard strike on a goal-line cross to WR Deonte Thompson, who had a defender on his back. Shaw put the ball in the perfect spot for Thompson to reach out and make the TD grab.
-During team drills, ILB Danny Trevathan blitzed the B gap. Langford stepped up to block him but couldn't corral Trevathan, who worked his way into the backfield and forced Cutler to throw the ball away.
Two things here: The first is that Trevathan has shown prowess as a blitzer all off-season, where his size and speed allow him to slip through gaps. Second, Langford struggled in pass protection last season and this play was no different. It's an area in which he must improve.
A few plays later, Trevathan had a nice PBU against TE Zach Miller, getting in front of the out route and knocking the pass away. Trevathan is an all-around beast.
After the play, Loggains yelled to Trevathan, "Hey Danny, he beat you. That was a bad throw."
-During one of the final live drills with the second team, WR Cameron Meredith caught a 15-yard pass up the left seam. S Deon Bush broke forward on the pass and put a shoulder into Meredith, which jarred the ball loose and incomplete. This elicited rave reviews from Bush's teammates.
Bush is a physical player who I believe is going to excel once the pads come on.null