Day 3: Training Camp News & Notes

The Bears had their first of only four scheduled two-a-days on Saturday, focusing on special teams in the morning and putting on full pads for the first time in the evening session. An enthusiastic crowd gathered at Ward Field for the night session to see the boys finally lay some lumber.

The morning session on Saturday was little more than a glorified walk-through, with special teams being the main focus. The first practice in full pads took place later in the day under the lights at Olivet Nazarene University, and the capacity crowd got to see some genuine hitting for the first time this training camp. Here are some first-hand observations from both the morning and evening workouts:

MORNING SESSION
Many of the veteran players and those coming back from injury will get the morning practice off in order to keep their legs fresh for the full-pads session later on tonight. On the ‘just watching' team are Brian Urlacher, Mike Brown, Muhsin Muhammad, Brian Griese, and Mark Bradley, among others ...

Robbie Gould is actually kicking field goals left-footed right now, and believe it or not, he's connecting on about half of them from 30 yards or so ...

Bernard Berrian is once again the #1 punt returner, with Devin Hester running right behind him. Craig Bragg has been replaced by Rashied Davis as the third guy. Berrian looks very good, but it's not hard to tell that Hester has some serious wiggle in the open field and could be special ...

Berrian finally makes a mistake and actually drops a punt. It was a short shank and far from a routine catch, but it was a drop nonetheless. Considering how good he has looked at receiver so far, he may prove to be too valuable on offense for use in the return game anyway ...

Kickers Gould and Josh Huston are fielding punts now. Gould even displays a spin move after making one catch. "Don't quit your day job," shouts Bears media guru Roger Hacker from the sideline ...

In the span of five minutes, Davis, Airese Currie, and Gabe Reid all drop passes. It's amazing how contagious that can be sometimes. He may be way down on the depth chart, but second-year wideout Reggie Harrell has caught everything in sight for three days ...

It's official. Kyle Orton looks awful. He's been off target and throwing wobbly passes all week, and worse yet, his body language just doesn't look good. During camp last year, he had a legitimate shot to win the starting job after Rex Grossman got hurt, and he ultimately did. This season, with Grossman fully healthy and Griese in the mix, Orton could have the camp of his life and still be the #3 guy on opening day. It's affecting his play ...

This defense preaches turnovers on every snap, and it's starting to show. Dante Wesley strips Justin Gage after making a catch on a quick out, and just one play later, Bryan Johnson has one jarred loose after hauling in a short dump pass. Even on incompletions, someone on D always scoops up the ball and takes it all the way to the end zone just to get in the habit of making a big play ...

On the first play of 11-on-11 drills, Grossman throws to a hot receiver deep in his own territory but has it intercepted by Chris Harris for a quickie defensive touchdown. This defense is going to be awfully tough, Bears fans. They're very deep and very good ...

EVENING PRACTICE
ONU's football stadium is about half the size of a typical high school stadium in the state of Texas. Nevertheless, it's a standing-room-only crowd tonight. There's even a Staley sighting along the track ...

This will be the first time the players will dress in full pads, so even though the calendar says July, it officially feels like football season again ...

In addition to the walking wounded (Thomas Jones, Tank Johnson, Mark Anderson, and Brandon McGowan), Tommie Harris and Dusty Dvoracek are also not practicing tonight ...

Ricky Manning Jr. loves to sing to himself before practice. If the Bears were to have an "American Idol" contestant, he's probably the guy ...

Equipment manager Tony Medlin has perhaps the coolest job on the entire staff. He gets to blow the airhorn when a period expires. Everyone wants to be the airhorn man ...

Lance Briggs appears to be running with the first team again in linebacker drills. It took him a grand total of two days to win his job back. Hopefully, that's more an indication of his incredible talent and not a testimony on how far Leon Joe is from being a starter in the NFL ...

Muhammad makes a tough grab over the middle on a throw from Grossman and gets some well deserved cheers from the crowd. Now if he could only hang on to all the easy ones. He has got to produce if this offense is going to have a chance this year ...

Davis has one thrown just out of his reach on a deep corner route. "Lay out!" screams a semi-disappointed fan. "It's practice, man," Davis mutters under his breath as he jogs back to the huddle ...

Cedric Benson is getting walloped during 11-on-11 drills even though there is no actual tackling. Now he fumbles after a crackling collision at the line of scrimmage, and Charles Tillman makes the recovery and heads to the house to the delight of the starting defense ...

Ricky Manning just leveled Benson in the backfield for a loss. There may be no tackling going on, but the D is laying some lumber out there. Benson appears to be getting frustrated ...

Hester hasn't had a single rep at cornerback in two days. The coaching staff obviously wants the rookie to focus on special teams, but even Alfonso Marshall and Carlos Hendricks are getting some time at corner with the second unit ...

Griese is picked off by Wesley, who takes it all the way for another pick-six. That's at least half a dozen interceptions already for Griese in three days. He has a reputation for being a very accurate passer, but that's not supposed to include the opposing defense ...

Orton fumbles yet another snap. He just doesn't look comfortable right now, not in any aspect of the game. Want more proof? He was just picked off by Brendon Ayanbadejo for another touchdown return the very next play. Fourth-string QB B.J. Symons may not be such a long shot to make the team after all ...

Berrian makes another big catch on the first play of the two-minute drill, good for about 45 yards. Everyone is just assuming that Bradley is going to win the #2 receiver spot, but Berrian has been nothing short of stellar for three days now. Either way, assuming Muhammad still has his #1 stuff left in the tank, the Bears may not be as thin at wideout as people expect ...

Benson takes a handoff near the goalline and absolutely trucks Harris on his way to paydirt. It may only be training camp, but he emphatically spikes the ball right in front of Nathan Vasher after he crosses the goalline and causes quite a commotion. Considering the tough treatment he has received from the first team defense tonight, he was long overdue to blow off a little steam ...

The Bears were originally scheduled to practice at 3p.m. on Sunday afternoon, but with the weather forecast predicting more unbearable heat, the team will work out under the lights at 7p.m. instead. Be sure to tune in again tomorrow for the most in depth coverage of all the action from Bourbonnais.

JC


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