The Chicago Bears conducted the third practice of 2016 Training Camp this morning. While crowds have been light the past few days, the campus of Olivet Nazarene University was flooded with Bears fans today.
The weather today was again hot and humid, although a heavily overcast sky kept the sun under wraps for most of the morning.
Today was the first padded practice of 2016 so, for all intents and purposes, football is finally here.
-OLB Leonard Floyd (illness) and OT Nick Becton (illness) both returned to practice today, although both were limited. OLB Roy Robertson-Harris (illness) sat out his third straight day of practice.
-TE Khari Lee (shoulder) did not practice today. CB Brandon Boykin (pectoral) and NT Terry Williams (shoulder) were limited.
-Rookie LB Nick Kwiatkoski left practice early due to a hamstring injury.
-OL Kyle Long (calf) sat out his second straight practice, yet he was on the sidelines and is no longer wearing his walking boot.
"I would say it’s positive on Kyle," GM Ryan Pace said today. "You know how he is, you’ve got to hold him back a little bit but it’s positive on Kyle."
I would expect Long back on the field fairly soon and definitely before the first preseason game on Aug. 11.
Day 3 Notebook
-During positional drills, FB Joe Sommers made an impressive one-handed grab on a flat route. He obviously has some sticky fingers.
-During the first 11-on-11 session, WR Kevin Whtie ran a deep out route toward the sideline. The pass from QB Jay Cutler was a little late, which allowed CB Tracy Porter to undercut the ball and intercept it. The play would have gone for a pick-six.
Porter hasn't stood out much this off-season, so it was good to see him make a play in man coverage against a receiver much bigger and faster than him.
-During 7-on-7 drills, ILB John Timu broke hard an a hitch route in front of him and was able to pick up an interception off QB Brian Hoyer. Timu struggled in coverage last year, so he's showing some improvement.
-Also during 7-on-7s, WR Darrin Peterson ran a wheel route up the left side and caught a nice pass from QB Connor Shaw, who put the ball just over the outreached hand of the cornerback. Peterson made the overhead grab and was able to tiptoe down the sideline to complete the 25-yard catch.
During a later 7-on-7 session, Shaw took a snap and read through three progressions, none of which were open, before rolling to his right. WR Kieren Duncan broke toward the end zone and Shaw let fly a deep pass off one foot on the run.
Duncan was able to get a step on two defenders and made a diving grab in front of the safety. The ball moved when Duncan hit the ground but it appeared he kept his hands under the ball. The NFL referee on hand disagreed and called it incomplete. The fans were not happy with the ref's call.
This was easily the play of the day. Shaw threw this pass on the run and dropped it between three defenders where only his receiver could catch the ball. Duncan easily separated from two cornerbacks and made the diving over-the-shoulder grab, once again showing off his speed, explosiveness and athleticism.
-To start off one session of team drills, ILB Danny Trevathan had a trio of very impressive snaps.
The first play was a well-designed screen play to RB Jeremy Langford. The defensive front all pulled forward and Langford had three blockers in front of him. It had the makings of a 25-yard gain or potentially a touchdown, yet Trevathan knifed through all three blockers and made the tackle.
On the second snap, Trevathan blitzed up the right A gap. Langford stepped up to block him but Trevathan put him on his heels and then used a swim move to get the sack on Cutler.
On the third play, RB Jacquizz Rodgers ran a stretch play left. Trevathan scraped from the backside, closed laterally and tackled Rodgers for a five-yard loss.
After the last few seasons of inept inside linebacker play in Chicago, Trevathan is a breath of fresh air. He's intelligent, slippery, fast and very decisive. He can beat blockers with speed or pure power and his awareness in coverage is off the charts. Trevathan is the real deal.
-During team drills, ILB Jonathan Anderson blitzed the right A gap and gained leverage on second-team C Cornelius Edison. RB Jacquizz Rodgers took the off-tackle handoff and was able to outrace Anderson to the corner. Rodgers then turned up the field, made one defender miss on an inside cut and picked up 15 yards.
Later, Rodgers hit a large hole off the left side. He made two defenders miss at the second level and picked up 20 yards. Rodgers had a good day as a runner.
-With Becton back, here was today's second-team offensive line: LT Nick Becton, LG Martin Wallace, C Cornelius Edison, RG Donovan Williams, RT Jason Weaver.
-During 11-on-11s, rookie DL Jonathan Bullard used a lightning fast swim move to fly past recently signed LT Dan Buchholz for a sack on Hoyer. Bullard continues to show his penetrative, disruptive ability.
-During 7-on-7 drills, OLB Leonard Floyd lined up in the slot across from WR Eddie Royal. It was zone coverage with Floyd responsible for the underneath half.
At the snap, Floyd stretched out his long arms and delivered a wicked chuck. Royal had to fight to get off the line of scrimmage before cutting toward the sideline. Floyd immediately broke with Royal and stayed in his back hip all the way to the sideline.
A few plays later, Floyd lined up slot left and delivered another effective chuck, this time WR Deonte Thompson. This allowed the ILB time to break forward and pick up Thompson on the crossing route. Floyd then slid off Thompson and quickly changed directions, picking up Rodgers on a flat route.
Floyd's awareness in coverage is outstanding for an outside linebacker. His length allows him to get healthy, effective jams at the line of scrimmage, while his quickness and change-of-direction ability is going to give him plenty of playmaking opportunities in coverage.
-In team drills, Royal ran a 5-yard crossing route against CB Kyle Fuller. Fuller read the play and stuck in Royal's pocket, then reached around to knock the ball away.
Fuller excels in these types of plays, where he's able to face the line of scrimmage throughout the snap. When he can see the play in front of him, he's a very effective corner but when he's forced to turn his back to the line of scrimmage, he becomes a liability.
Case in point: A few snaps later, Fuller was in zone coverage but had to shift his hips in order to trail TE Zach Miller. As Miller approached the sideline, Fuller looked back to the line of scrimmage and lost track of Miller, who had already turned up the field. Miller made a very nice sliding grab over the top, with Fuller tailing the play helplessly.
-During the same 11-on-11 session, WR Deonte Thompson ran a deep out route and CB De'Vante Bausby fell on the cut. Thompson made the catch near the sideline, then turned up-field and outraced S Adrian Amos to the end zone.
Whenever he's on the field, whether it's on offense or special teams, Thompson's speed is always a factor. If you give him a crease or some open space over the top, he's gone.
-Daniel Braverman was as busy as ever today. He caught a slant pass against CB Jacoby Glenn. He caught another slant against zone coverage between the underneath linebacker and the safety over the top. He caught a 7-yard hitch against zone coverage and absorbed a big hit from S DeAndre Houston-Carson. He caught a bubble screen, cut inside a block and then back outside for 9 yards. He was also one of six players returning punts.
Just another ho-hum highly productive day from Braverman, who wasn't affected in the least with pads on.
-TE Tony Moeaki was open on an intermediate crossing route during 7-on-7 drills. Shaw fired a perfect pass but Moeaki dropped it. Those are catches Moeaki needs to make if he wants any chance of making the roster.
-During team drills, Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman ran a dual cross blitz up the A gaps. The interior of the first-team offensive line -- LG Cody Whitehair, C Hroniss Grasu, RG Ted Larsen -- were completely caught off guard and both inside linebackers reached the quarterback.
A few plays later, the two ILBs ran the same blitz, only this time the offense was ready. Grasu locked up Freeman at the snap and Langford filled the opposite A gap, securing Trevathan.
Blitz pickups have been a sore spot for the offense all season, particularly for Langford, but at least they're showing progress.
-The following play, the offense ran a screen to Langford. Grasu reached the second level quickly and sealed off Trevathan inside, which gave the running back a crease for big yards.
The offense later ran a similar screen to Langford. Again Grasu cleared quickly to the next level and put a big block on Amos. (Notable on this play was that 328-pound Akiem Hicks chased down the play from behind!)
Grasu has not shown any improvements at the point of attack but his ability at the second level is top-tier. He's a serious weapon on screen plays.
-ILB Jonathan Anderson shot the A gap on a blitz during team drills. RB Ka'Deem Carey stepped up and smacked Anderson in the mouth. It was one of the biggest hits of the day and, as usual, Carey was part of the collision.
-ILB John Timu worked almost exclusively with the second team alongside Anderson. Timu switched spots with Lamin Barrow, who worked with the third team.
-One one of the final team snaps of the day, DE Cornelius Washington swung inside on a stunt and exploded into C Cornelius Edison. Washington then shed the block and picked up the sack. He was fired up after one of his best plays of camp.
-Finally, we had another pushing match today, this time between OLB Lamarr Houston and G Ted Larsen. I would say this is roughly the 12th pushing match I've witnessed of which Houston has been one of the main subjects. He's nothing if not intense.
The Bears ran full-contact one-on-one pass-rush drills today, which many of you might know is my favorite part of training camp. Here's a run down of every single snap:
-RT Bobby Massie drives OLB Lamarr Houston past the pocket. Good block.
-DL Akiem Hicks uses a spin move at the point of attack. G Ted Larsen absorbs the initial contact but can't anchor and Hicks is able to drive him deep in the pocket.
-C Hroniss Grasu waits for NT Eddie Goldman and uses a catch block. The block isn't great but it was effective enough to keep Goldman driving through the pocket.
-DL Mitch Unrein uses a rip move and drives right through G Cody Whitehair for the sack.
-OLB WIllie Young rushes off the left edge and LT Charles Leno drops his head in anticipation of contact. Young uses a quick sweep move to go around Leno, whose feet are in quicksand. Poor effort from Leno.
-Houston bull rushes Massie and then dumps him in the dirt. Sack.
-DL Cornelius Washington outmuscles G Donovan Williams and picks up the sack.
-C Cornelius Edison stymies Goldman at the point of attack. Sinks hips and anchors well against the bull rush.
-DL Ego Ferguson uses a bull rush that pushes Whitehair into the quarterback.
-Young rushes off the left edge, sets up LT Nick Becton on the outside and then cuts inside for the sack.
-Becton rides Houston past the pocket but Houston cuts back and throws Becton in the dirt.
-DL Jonathan Bullard uses a stutter step and blows by Williams untouched. A very impressive pass rush from the rookie.
-Hicks uses a swim move and he's past Larsen for the sack.
-G Martin Wallace stuffs DL Marquis Jackson at the line of scrimmage.
-Young picks up an effortless sack against LT Adrian Bellard, who has been outmatched throughout training camp.
-Washington rushes from the edge spot and easily beats Leno for the sack.
-Massie does a great job of pushing OLB Sam Acho past the pocket. Great body positioning. Massie then does the same thing to Acho on the following snap.
-Goldman tries to bull rush Grasu but Grasu gets leverage and drives Goldman to the ground. Solid leverage work by Grasu.
-Whitehair locks up Jackson and straight throws him to the ground. Corn-fed power.
-Leno locks up Houston on the edge but, once again, Houston throws him to the ground. Houston is extremely fired up.