Chicago Bears Training Camp Notebook: Day 9

We empty the notebook from the ninth practice of Chicago Bears 2016 Training Camp, a session that featured a new starting center, secondary dominance and much more.

The Chicago Bears this afternoon conducted the ninth practice of 2016 Training Camp. The practice fields at Olivet Nazarene University were with lined with Bears fans three deep, with bleachers filled to the limit. 

The weather today was hot and sunny, although a cool breeze kept everyone relatively comfortable. 

Former Bears center Olin Kreutz was again in attendance today, as was FOX's Jay Glazer, a good friend of John Fox. 


The following players did not practice: 

WR Eddie Royal (concussion)
WR Derek Keaton (knee)
TE Zach Miller (concussion)
TE Ben Braunecker (ankle)
OLB Roy Robertson-Harris (illness)
ILB Nick Kwiatkoski (hamstring) 
TE Greg Scruggs (lung)

The following Bears were limited today: 

OL Kyle Long (calf) 
TE Khari Lee (shoulder)
DL Terry Williams (shoulder)
OT Nick Becton (illness)
ILB Danny Trevathan (knee)
WR Alshon Jeffery (hamstring)

-Alshon Jeffery was very limited and only participated in the stretching portion of practice.

-Danny Trevathan and Kyle Long were nearly full participants, as were Terry Williams and Nick Becton. 

-The big injury news today is that starting center Hroniss Grasu is done for the season due to a torn ACL suffered Saturday. 

"Hroniss Grasu tore his ACL. Right knee. He will be out for the season," John Fox said after practice. "Obviously it’s a punch in the gut, anytime you lose a player, especially, you feel bad for the kid. He’s worked very hard to earn that spot and he’s a fantastic teammate as well as a player. But he’ll be around us. He’ll be in the meetings. They’ll probably delay the surgery for a little bit, as they normally do with a torn ACL."

Day 9 Notebook

-In place of Grasu the Bears inserted Ted Larsen at center with the first team.

"He’s started in the league before," Fox said. "That’s why we signed Ted — he’s an expected lineman, he’s a veteran guy, came from a winning team. We have great confidence in what Ted can do."

Larsen has experience playing center in the NFL, which is a plus. 

“It’s a position I’ve played before," Larsen said. "But it’s working with the system, working with Jay, that’s probably the No. 1 thing. I feel good with all the calls.”

-On the first snap of team drills, play-side DE Mitch Unrein used a bull and rip move to penetrate into the backfield. On the weak side, DE Akiem Hicks shot inside of a reach block and into the backfield. Unrein and Hicks met RB Jeremy Langford at the same time, five yards behind the line of scrimmage. 

Just another ho-hum day for Hicks, who has been dominant in camp, and Unrein, who has been quietly solid as a run defender. 

-During team drills, FB Paul Lasike lined up off-set left, with TE Tony Moeaki at left wing. Moeaki then motion into the backfield, just to the right of Lasike. This put two lead blockers in front of Langford on an A gap dive. 

Clearly Bears coordinator Dowell Loggains is ready to play smash-mouth football this season. 

-Rookie DL Jonathan Bullard worked exclusively with the second team today. He's rotated with the second and third teams to this point camp but today was the first in which he's played entirely with the second unit. 

Bullard had one of the best plays of the day. On a stretch run left, Bullard came from the weak side, shot the inside gap and was in the backfield before the ball was handed off. Bullard then clobbered RB Ka'Deem Carey as soon as he received the handoff. The play went for a five-yard loss. 

I've talked about Bullard's quickness throughout camp and he continues to make plays in the backfield every practice. Yet he's more than just a one-gap defensive tackle. 

At DE in a base 3-4 set today, Bullard two-gapped at the point of attack, created separation with arm extension and shed the block from G Martin Wallace. This forced the RB to cut back inside, right into ILB Jonathan Anderson's arms. 

Mark my words, Bullard is going to have an immediate, substantial impact for the Bears his rookie season. 

-With Bullard taking second-team reps, Ego Ferguson was demoted to the third team. This was an interesting move, as Cornelius Washington remained with the second team. Both Washington and Ferguson have looked good to this point in camp but it appears Washington is a bit higher on the depth chart. 

-In 11-on-11s, C Cornelius Edison used a textbook angle block on NT Will Sutton. Edison gave Sutton the right rush lane but as soon as Sutton fired forward, Edison shifted his hips and sealed him outside. 

On the back side, TE Rob Housler used OLB Sam Acho's lateral momentum to hook him inside and bury him in the pile of bodies. These two blocks created a huge cutback lane for RB Jacquizz Rodgers. 

Housler later caught a TD during red-zone drills, beating ILB Lamin Barrow on a drag route. Housler is still in the mix at tight end and days like today will only help his cause. 

-Early in practice, FB Darrel Young lined up offset left and pulled down the line of scrimmage at the snap. Young then found ILB Jonathan Anderson in the hole and drove him laterally, creating a wide interior running lane. 

Later, Young had two stretch plays in which he appeared hesitant and could not find a defender to block. On both snaps, his lack of awareness resulted in him personally clogging the run lane. 

Young was signed a few days ago to compete with Paul Lasike for the starting fullback gig. He brings some pop but he needs to show more consistency. 

-RB Jordan Howard does not consistently finish runs with pop. He led the nation in yards after contact last season, yet he's been avoiding contact more than he's been creating it. 

Running backs coach Stan Drayton wasn't having any of it today and was on Howard all day about finishing plays with authority.

To me, it appears Howard is saving himself. When he drops his shoulder, massive collisions typically follow, but this is a player who has dealt with some injuries the past year, so it might be smart for him to avoid contact during practice. 

I suspect Howard will be initiating a bit more contact when the snaps count during Thursday's preseason game against the Broncos. 

-On a stretch run left, TE Tony Moeaki lead in front of the play and tried to kick out OLB Lamarr Houston. Moeaki brought no pop to the hit and Houston brushed him aside before tackling Langford in the backfield. 

Moeaki has been taking first-team reps but he's been very inconsistent. 

-During team drills, the first-team offense lined up with three receivers. The defense countered with press-man coverage on all three wideouts, as well as the tight end, with both inside linebackers showing blitz up the A gap. 

Before the snap, the only defender who was deeper than two yards off the ball was S Adrian Amos. 

At the snap, ILB Jerrell Freeman blitzed, creating pressure in QB Jay Cutler's face. The secondary locked up all four pass catchers, which forced Cutler to fire an off-balance pass to WR Josh Bellamy on a crossing route. CB Tracy Porter was on Bellamy like a glove and knocked the ball away. 

Later during red-zone drills, Cutler had all day to throw in the pocket yet his only viable target was Moeaki on a crossing route. Freeman was in Moeaki's pocket, which resulted in the incompletion. 

In the final 11-on-11 drill, Cutler dropped back, scanned through his progressions and then had to tuck the ball and run, as no one was open. 

During practice, the secondary is always at a disadvantage because pass rush can't finish. Quarterbacks can typically take as much time as they need to get a pass off, which puts added stress on the secondary. 

Yet today, Chicago's secondary was dominant. Granted, four of the club's top five pass catchers -- Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal, Marquess Wilson and Zach Miller -- are on the shelf, but it's still good to see the secondary playing so soundly. 

-During team drills, CB Deiondre Hall ran stride for stride with WR Cameron Meredith on a go route up the left sideline. The ball from QB Brian Hoyer came up a bit short and Hall was able to disrupt the pass, which fell incomplete. 

Later, Hall again was able to disrupt a fly route intended for Meredith. 

Meredith has been one of the most impressive receivers in camp but Hall had his number today. This is a good sign for Hall, who has struggled since being drafted. 

-During red zone drills, ILB Danny Trevathan filled an A gap run and collided heavily with Kyle Long. Trevathan then slid off Long and stuffed Langford at the line of scrimmage. 

If Trevathan can make this type of play against Long, he can do it against any guard in the NFL. 

-OLB Leonard Floyd took all of his reps today with the first team. 

-During red zone drills, Floyd, Lamarr Houston and Christian Jones all took turns in the Rover role, with each blitzing up the gut. 

-With the ball at the 5-yard line, Floyd and Unrein ran a cross stunt off the right side. Unrein cleared out the entire left side of the offensive line and Floyd swung around behind him for the easy sack. 

-During team drills, NT Terry Williams used a bull rush to drive C Cornelius Edison into the backfield. Williams then knocked down the Connor Shaw pass attempt. This is one of the few positive plays I've seen from Williams. 

-WR Marc Mariani let a ball bounce right off his hands during team drills. I don't believe I've ever seen that happen before. 

-On one of the final plays of the day, Cutler fired a pass to Langford on an underneath stop route. Yet the easy pass was off target and Langford could only get a hand on the ball, tipping it up in the air. 

S Harold Jones-Quartey then made a diving stab at the ball and hauled it in for the interception. It was an impressive play from HJQ. 

-S DeAndre Houston-Carson stripped RB Senorise Perry on one of the final plays of team drills. It was a nice forced fumbled from the rookie. 

-In the final two sets of team drills, CB Kyle Fuller stood on the sidelines during first-team reps. In his place was Bryce Callahan at boundary corner and Demontre Hurst in the slot. 

I'm not reading too much into this but Fuller has struggled, so it's worth monitoring. 

1-on-1 Pass-Rush Drills

-RT Bobby Massie stuffs OLB Christian Jones on a bull rush. Good anchor by Massie. 

-RG Kyle Long sinks his hips and stonewalls a bull rush from DE Akiem Hicks. Great show of power by Long, who appears fully healthy. 

-NT Eddie Goldman beats C Ted Larsen using a double move for a sack. 

-DE Mitch Unrein uses a rip move to drive LG Cody Whitehair into the QB. 

-LT Charles Leno rides OLB Lamarr Houston past the pocket. 

-OLB Sam Acho uses a wide rush and is able to turn the corner against Massie, yet Massie gets just enough of him to push Acho past the QB. 

-G Martin Wallace uses good footwork to stonewall an Unrein spin move. 

-C Cornelius Edison can't anchor against a bull rush from NT Will Sutton and is driven into the QB. 

-G Amini Silatolu executes a clear hold, nearly bear hugging DL Keith Browner to keep from him getting to the QB. 

-Silatolu uses a strong hand punch to knock Browner off his initial track, then good feet to keep the defender out of the backfield. Good recovery snap from Silatolu. 

-LT Nick Becton beats Houston to the corner and anchors well against the power rush. 

-RT Jason Weaver beats Jones to the corner, then shuffles inside and cuts off the spin move. Very good snap by Weaver. 

-Weaver shuts down another Jones inside spin move. 

-Hicks shoots inside but Long cuts him off. Hicks then spins back outside. Long recovers and literally dives to keep Hicks off the quarterback. Even Hicks was impressed with Long's effort on this snap, which is arguably the best 1-on-1 pass block I've seen out of six different training camps. 

-DL Jonathan Bullard uses a rip move at the snap to gain leverage on Larsen, then Bullard drives through and past the blocker for the sack. 

-DL Ego Ferguson pushes Silatolu into the QB. Good power from Ferguson. 

-OLB Danny Mason goes right around Becton on an outside speed rush. Sack. 

-On the next snap, Mason blows past Becton using an inside spin move. Sack. 

-Acho uses a power bull rush to push RT John Kling into the QB. 

-G Donovan Williams does a great job of using his feet to stay in front of Bullard and keep him out of the backfield. 

-NT Terry Williams drives Edison into the QB. 

-Ferguson is able to swim past Whitehair for the sack. 

-Ferguson drives Whitehair backward but the rookie anchors and keeps Ferguson off the QB. 

-RT Garry Williams doesn't allow Acho to turn the corner. 


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