Thursday night wrap

Lovie Smith had mixed emotions about returning to Macomb, a place he spent three training camps as the Rams defensive coordinator. While it's good to see old friends, the Bears need to improve between now and the start of the season.

"Today we're not keeping score we're just trying to get both of us a lot better, which I think we were able to do, but it was good seeing them," Smith said.

Smith helped nurture SS Adam Archuleta into a Pro Bowl player. The two remain close despite Smith leaving St. Louis for a chance to be the head coach of the Chicago Bears.

"Adam's like a son," Smith said. "My kids won't say anything bad about me hopefully, either. He's a great player; he's a great guy. It's fun watching him play football. I was just lucky to be around in those years, so he should help them win a lot of football games.

In just a few months Smith has done everything within his power to get his team in peak physical condition, but that doesn't come as a surprise to Archuleta.

"I know when Lovie was our defensive coordinator we ran," Archuleta said. "We ran and that was part of our identity and so working hard and running after practice is nothing new to me.

"The rumor around the league is that we have one of the fastest tempos in practice of any team. I wouldn't think their practices are any more demanding then what our practices are."

Rams head coach Mike Martz said injuries can often come down to thing one and it has nothing to do with how hard players practice.

"It's just luck that's all it is," Martz said.

Book off the shelf: Marty Booker returned to practice Thursday after missing a week of action because of a hamstring pull. While the veteran receiver was on the field, he didn't participate in contact drills.

"I just want to ease into it. I don't want to just come back full and go at it," Booker said. "They kind of took it a little light on me and hopefully I can build off this and get some more reps in tomorrow and the next day and the next day.

Injury Report: Obviously the biggest injury news of the day came when the Bears announced Jerry Azumah would miss three to four months with a herniated disk in his neck. However CB Josh Minkins, an undrafted free agent, suffered a knee injury and had to be carted off the field.

At this point the severity of the injury is uncertain, but the training staff took several minutes before moving Minkins onto the cart.

Bobby Gray suffered a hamstring pull Wednesday and sat out of practice Thursday. Alfonso Marshall also missed practice with an undisclosed injury.

Catching on: Charles Tillman made the play of the day when he jumped on a Marc Bulger pass intended for Isaac Bruce and returned it for a touchdown.

"I think Bruce was trying to run an out route or a dash route and I just stepped in front of him and picked it off," Tillman said.

Pop goes the Reesel: Marcus Reese has impressed the coaching staff since stepping in at weak side linebacker. However he lost out on a battle with Rams FB Joey Goodspeed. The two collided in an eleven-on-eleven drill and Reese lost his helmet.

Making the Rounds: NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue attended Thursday's practice in Macomb. He addressed a number of issues including the NFL drug abuse policy, expansion of the league and the hiring of minorities.

Quote to note: "We've had our taste of injuries and they're part of the game. We'll get through it. We feel real good about being able to adjust. I'm not saying that it's going to be easy to replace Jerry; it isn't. Again, Jerry was a Pro Bowler. But we'll be OK and hopefully the worst is behind us." – GM Jerry Angelo on losing Jerry Azumah for three to four months.

Back to work: The Bears are scheduled to practice twice tomorrow before scrimmaging with the Rams on Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

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