Work in Progress

The Bears took to the field Friday with more of a Bourbonnais feel than a mini-camp session at Halas Hall. Under the sun the team worked outside for the first time this year. The players were busy working on expanding their vocabulary within the new systems on both sides of the ball, which has Lovie Smith happy with the progress his men have made in less than a month.

"We have a great tempo going right now," Lovie Smith said Friday. "The guys are doing exactly what we want them to do. I think we're making progress. We're better than we were the last practice. In general terms we're adding more of our offense and defense. Each day you get a little more comfortable in what we want them to do."

Ruben Brown and Bryan Johnson were acquired after the March mini-camp, but are working overtime to catch up on the playbook.

"I think this will be a great offense for me," Johnson said. "I think they'll have me moving around doing different things and also running, lead blocking downhill, putting out in slots and running. I just have to learn it right now and (running back) coach (Tim) Spencer is working hard with me on that and I think it's coming along good."

The most surprising move of the day came when Brown wasn't between Olin Kreutz, who missed the first mini-camp because of personal reasons, and John Tait. Instead Mike Gandy stood in at right guard with the first string offensive line. While Brown hasn't been handed the job, chances are the eight-time Pro Bowl guard there is little doubt he'll be in the starting lineup.

"Our offensive line, right now we're looking at different combinations," Smith said. "You have to start somewhere. Mike will play some guard, he can play some tackle. We're looking at different combinations right now. We have a lot of time left before we lock everybody in."

The most likely scenario for Gandy to crack the starting lineup will be to beat out Qasim Mitchell at left tackle.

The versatility of the Bears offensive line will only help them during the course of the 17-Week regular season. Three starters from a year ago could end up playing secondary roles. Aaron Gibson, Steve Edwards and Gandy all face uphill battles.

"I think you need nine or 10 good offensive linemen, and that's what we're trying to do and we're going to just let them all play and they'll decide who's the starter and who will play at what position," Smith said.

Early Favorites
Mike Green, who sat out the first mini-camp of the year because of a nagging groin injury, returned to practice but it was Bobby Gray that worked with the first team at strong safety. Green practiced with the second unit and the competition is no where near settled between he and Gray.

"Mike's a good player and we need him out there on the field," Smith said. "Right away you could see him make a few plays, move around fairly well."

Green was on the field for Friday's second session, but didn't practice.

Smith also said Joe Odom is ahead of Bryan Knight at this point in the competition for strong-side linebacker.

Injury Update
Ian Scott pulled his left hamstring and missed the second session. He will likely sit out the remainder of the mini-camp.

Bobby Wade strained a quad in March, which limited his work. He practiced in both sessions and Friday and didn't show any signs of still being injured. Marc Colombo is nowhere near practicing with the team. He spent the early portion of practice jogging on the sideline, but he has a noticeable limp.

Robert Johnson is the only player that is unable to participate. The tight end suffered a stress fracture during his rookie campaign and had surgery to repair the injury. However there have been complications since and Johnson underwent a second procedure Thursday to correct the problem.

With just over a week until the San Diego Chargers are officially on the clock teams are making final preparations for the draft. The Bears are in the enviable position of having two mini-camps before the draft, which should give them one last chance to evaluate the talent on the roster and what needs to be addressed next weekend.

"That's why we wanted to have a couple different mini-camps before the draft so we could get good looks at the players," Smith said. "Each day we find out a little more about the players. It's affecting it quite a bit. Which way we go, we don't know that right now."

Stay tuned to BearReport.com later over the weekend for the latest news from Halas Hall, as the Bears will hold two more sessions Saturday with a final practice on Sunday.


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