The Chicago Bears this afternoon conducted the fourth practice of 2016 Training Camp. The Sunday crowd was heavy and lively, with vocal fans filling the stands along Field 4.
The weather today was, as usual, hot and humid. No surprises there.
The following Bears did not practice: OL Kyle Long (calf), ILB Nick Kwiatkoski (hamstring) and OLB Roy Robertson-Harris (illness).
The following Bears were limited: OLB Leonard Floyd (illness), NT Terry Williams (shoulder) and CB Brandon Boykin (pectoral).
NT Eddie Goldman left practice with "heat illness."
"He might have drained his energy a little bit but I'm sure he'll be fine once he get his fluids back," head coach John Fox said after practice. "I'm sure he'll replenish quickly."
Remember, Goldman struggled with heat exhaustion and conditioning at the start of training camp last year as well.
Day 4 Notebook
-The field today was soaked. There has been on-and-off rain in Bourbonnais the past few days but it must have rained heavily overnight because it was a marsh out there. Players were slipping and sliding all over the field.
-During the first 7-on-7 session, I slid over to the far field where offensive and defensive linemen were working on combo blocks and stunts.
Suddenly, the crowd on the opposite field roared. I looked over and saw Jeffery, who was two steps behind CB Kyle Fuller, haul in a 50-yard pass in stride before outracing the defense to the end zone. The play went for a 90-yard TD and I can only assume it was man coverage, in which Fuller struggles.
Just another day at the office for Jeffery, who is in line for a monstrous season.
-QB Brian Hoyer fired a pass in 7-on-7s to WR Cameron Meredith on an intermediate crossing route. S Deon Bush broke forward on the throw and collided with Meredith at the catch point, which rattled the ball loose and incomplete.
This is the third play the past two days that Bush has dislodged the ball from a receiver due to his physical nature. He'll need to perfect hitting the legal strike zone, while making sure to keep his head to avoid penalties, but if he can do that, Bush is going to make receivers pay.
Later, Bush put a hit on RB Ka'Deem Carey near the end of the play. This elicited a push in the back from G Martin Wallace. Bush turned around and had words with Wallace, so Bush is fiery as well as physical.
Yet Bush is not an instinctive player in coverage and lacks ideal awareness. These are very clearly the areas in which he must improve.
Case in point: During red-zone drills, Bush was playing a deep quarter. At the snap, he stepped up and stood on the goal line as the play action developed. Hoyer fired a pass right over Bush's head, where two receivers were waiting to make the catch. Bush was completely unaware two pass catchers were behind him. WR Deonte Thompson ended up hauling in the touchdown in the back of the end zone.
Bush will bring pop as an in-the-box safety, as he's already shown repeatedly, but he's a work in progress in coverage.
-During 7-on-7 drills, TE Ben Braunecker ran a five-yard out pattern, outracing nickelback Brandon Boykin to the sideline, where Braunecker made a sliding grab.
On the very next snap, the offense ran the same play, only reversed. On both snaps Braunecker showed good speed and hands, while Boykin wasn't able to anticipate either throw nor make a play on the ball.
-The first 11-on-11 session was run heading upfield from the 10-yard line. As such, I posted up in the end zone to get an All-22 view of the action.
One of the first snaps was a zone right run for RB Jeremy Langford. The offensive line all worked up their tracks and a lane opened up on the back side. Langford planted his foot in the ground and stuck the back cut, leaving most of the defense in his wake. The play went for an 8-yard gain, at least.
I've noticed these types of decisive cuts from Langford throughout camp. His field vision has been excellent and his burst allows him to reach the second level in a heartbeat.
-On an off-set right formation, FB Paul Lasike lined up two yards behind the right A gap. At the snap, Lasike fired forward to lead block. ILB Danny Trevathan stepped into the hole and exploded into Lasike. The collision put Lasike, who has 25 pounds on Trevathan, on his heels.
I'll say it again: Trevathan is the real deal.
At the same time, Lasike hasn't shown me much as a lead blocker through two days of padded practices. That could quickly change but he hasn't stood out to this point in camp.
-During team drills, RB Ka'Deem Carey took a handoff off-tackle left. ILB John Timu scraped into the hole and exploded downhill, stopping Carey a yard short of the line of scrimmage.
Timu showed some improvement in coverage yesterday and today showed off his reliability as a run defender. He appears firmly entrenched with the second team.
-Later, Carey ran stretch right. DE Ego Ferguson gained leverage on G Martin Wallace and worked his way laterally. As Carey hit the corner, Ferguson wrapped him up and buried him in the turf. Ferguson than sat over Carey and had words. This didn't sit well with TE Greg Scruggs, who let Ferguson know how he felt. Ego opened his arms as if to say, "Hey, if you wanna stop me, block me."
In a team session later in practice, Ferguson lined up over center and used a swim move to beat C Cornelius Edison for the sack.
Ferguson has been very physical and active during camp, and should emerge as a key player in Chicago's defensive line rotation.
-DL Keith Browner, a second-year player out of California, had a pair of good snaps during 11-on-11s. On the first rep, he used a bull rush to drive Ted Larsen, who at the time was working at center with the third team, deep into the backfield. On the next rep, Browner used a swim move to fly past G Dan Buchholz for the sack.
Browner hasn't stood out to this point but he made the most of his snaps today.
-The only pushing match of the day came between DL Eddie Goldman and G Cody Whitehair. Goldman left the field shortly after with heat exhaustion. Point Whitehair.
Whitehair also took a handful of reps with the third team at center. Like yesterday, he had one really bad shotgun snap. It's clear Whitehair is very raw at the pivot position.
-Yesterday, I wrote about a dual A-gap cross blitz with inside linebackers Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman. During red-zone drills today, they executed the same blitz. This time, C Hroniss Grasu drove Freeman into the A gap, clipping Trevathan in the process. This allowed Langford to easily pick up Trevathan, thus securing both blitzers. Progress.
-On the final snap of red-zone drills, RB Jordan Howard ran off-tackle left. There was a crease and he reached the second level, where he met S Demontre Hurst. Hurst dropped his shoulder and stuck Howard, creating one of the biggest collisions of the day.
-Here is the first-team kickoff unit: Deiondre Hall, Deonte Thompson, Christian Jones, Sherrick McManis, Chris Prosinski, Lamin Barrow, Jonathan Anderson, Sam Acho, Demontre Hurst, Josh Bellamy.
Here are the players who are currently on both the first-team kickoff and kick return units: McManis, Anderson, Prosinski, Barrow, Jones, Bellamy, Acho. Those seven, along with Jacquizz Rodgers, are Chicago's core special teams players.
-During 7-on-7 drills, Langford cleared from the backfield up the left hash. Trevathan slid out to cover him. Langford used an inside head fake before cutting outside. Trevathan froze on the fake, which gave Langford the separation he needed to make the catch.
Trevathan is very good in man coverage, which makes this catch by Langford even more impressive. If Langford can limit the drops, he can be a serious weapon in the passing attack, one it appears coordinator Dowell Loggains will not be afraid to use.
-During 7-on-7 red-zone drills, WR Josh Bellamy ran a slant to the back of the end zone. QB Brian Hoyer threw a nice pass, just out of reach of trailing CB Jacoby Glenn. Bellamy snatched the ball high out of the air and then tiptoed both feet in bounds before falling out of the back of the end zone.
It was an outstanding play, after which Bellamy was fired up. He stood up and had some very harsh words for Glenn, most of which were delivered face mask to face mask.
-CB Deiondre Hall has not been very impressive to this point in camp. He struggled today on back-to-back plays during red-zone 7-on-7s.
On the first snap, Hall was covering TE Tony Moeaki in man coverage. Moeaki ran a five-yard drag across the field. The far receiver crossed in the opposite direction and Hall got caught in traffic, which left Moeaki wide open for the touchdown.
On the next snap, Hall was covering WR Kieren Duncan wide left. Duncan ran a quick slant and Hall fell down. Duncan than snatched a high pass from QB David Fales before dragging both feet inside the end line. It was a very impressive catch.
Hall lacks anticipation in coverage. He's a physical specimen but he's a project at corner, one who is currently buried on the third team.
-During goal-line drills, DE Akiem Hicks lined up over RG Ted Larsen and used a swim move at the snap to gain instant penetration. Larsen then shifted his body into the defender and drove his arms into Hicks' armpit. This allowed Larsen to turn Hicks away from the inside run.
This was a veteran move from Larsen, who gave Hicks the outside lane and then used it against him, which opened up the hole inside.
A few snaps later, Larsen cleared to the second level and quickly locked up Freeman, which opened a lane for Langford to score the touchdown. Larsen had a good day.
-The biggest hit of the day came during goal-line drills. QB Jay Cutler ran a bootleg and then shoveled a pass to TE Zach Miller running underneath.
This did not fool OLB Lamarr Houston, who buried Miller in the turf. The back of Miller's head was the first thing to hit the ground.
The hit jarred the ball loose and Kevin White ended up recovering it in the end zone for a touchdown.
-On one of the final snaps of red-zone drills, WR Marc Mariani lined up in the right slot. Before the snap, S Harold Jones-Quartey floated in front of Mariani, who ran a quick out at the snap. HJQ sat on the play and broke forward on the ill-advised Hoyer pass. He knocked the pass away and nearly had a 99-yard pick-six.
Safeties are tough to gauge in practice but HJQ has been consistently solid to this point.
-During the final 11-on-11 session, Langford ran a sweep left. The offensive line sealed off the front seven and Langford turned the corner. Jeffery drove CB Tracy Porter 15 yards backward and never let off his block. Langford shot forward and cut inside Jones-Quartey, who barely got a piece of Langford's jersey. HJQ was able to hang on and save the touchdown.
This play showed off an underrated aspect of Jeffery's game: his blocking. Porter had no chance of making a play on Langford, who continues to show off his speed on plays like these.
-On the next play, Jeffery drove Porter 25 yards up the field just outside the right hash. As soon as Porter turned his hips and broke out of his backpedal, Jeffery broke down and turned back to Cutler, who hit him for the 25-yard gain.
Jeffery puts the fear of the deep ball in cornerbacks, which makes plays like these almost too easy.
-Later, Brian Hoyer dropped back in the pocket and looked deep down the middle, where Deonte Thompson was running a post pattern. Thompson had a step on the defense and Hoyer let fly ... a dead duck. The pass was wobbly and came up about 8 yards short. This allowed Deon Bush to recover and knock the pass away.
The deep ball is clearly not Hoyer's specialty.
-CB Jacoby Glenn had a rough day. Not only was he beat during end-zone drills by Josh Bellamy, but WR Cameron Meredith took him to task late in practice.
On the first snap, Meredith beat Glenn on a deep out route. On the next snap, Meredith ran a double move and Glenn was called for holding by the referee. Glenn needs to step it up or he won't last past first cuts.
-OLB Leonard Floyd participated in 1-on-1 drills today, which he did not do yesterday, so he's progressing.