Day 19: Training Camp News & Notes

The energy level was waning just a little bit at practice on Monday afternoon, and with the team anxious to break camp and get back to sleeping in their own beds, it's certainly understandable. But there is still plenty of work to do before the Bears take to the field in Week 2 of preseason action against San Diego on Friday, and a few players are really starting to hit their stride.

Rex Grossman followed up Friday night's shaky performance with another questionable outing at practice on Sunday, and with Brian Griese taking this session off for precautionary reasons, the former Gator will get plenty of reps today. With Mike Brown sitting out to nurse an Achilles' injury, rookie Danieal Manning will get even more time with the starting defense. Here is a wrap-up of what took place on the practice field in Bourbonnais:

Special teams practice is again the focus at the outset of practice. Holder Brad Maynard is set up eight yards behind the line of scrimmage to receive the snap from Patrick Mannelly. The universal distance used to be seven yards, but with the kickers' legs getting stronger and the opposing team's reach getting higher, that extra three feet might just make the difference between a three points and a block ...

Robbie Gould is nails once again today on field goals. He and Josh Huston alternate attempts from 30 yards out, and then they each back up five yards while alternating hash marks. Both of them are perfect through 40 yards, but Huston pulls his 45-yarder and misses to the left. Gould connects from 45, 50, and 55, each of them right down Broadway. Huston doesn't even attempt one from 55. Gould could really be a weapon this season if he straightens out the long-distance shots ...

Updating the running backs, Thomas Jones looks a little better than he did the day before, and Cedric Benson actually went through stretching and running drills today with a helmet but no pads. His shoulder brace is a thing of the past, and he seems to have no trouble moving his upper body. "Day to day," head coach Lovie Smith said when I asked him about their progress. "It's hard to say. They are getting better as you see them moving around. Cedric was running, carrying the ball today, and Thomas was doing the same thing. Again, you get a little bit closer each day." ...

Adding to the list of banged-up players, Dusty Dvoracek has a foot injury that shouldn't be anything too severe. Mike Brown, on the other hand, has some sort of Achilles' problem that sounds dangerously similar to what sidelined him at times the last two seasons. Smith played it pretty close to the vest when the media asked about him, but it was described on Sunday as a lower leg injury. He was more specific on Monday and called it an Achilles' injury. Like the Griese signing, the Danieal Manning draft choice is looking smarter with each passing day.

It must be Dropsie Monday because footballs are hitting the turf all over the place. In the span of 10 minutes, Craig Bragg, Jason McKie, Keith Belton, Mark Philmore, and Mark Bradley each drop one. Bradley in particular is not giving his best effort. His body language doesn't look good, and several members of the press were talking about it on the sideline half-way through practice. Maybe he's just having a bad day, but his routes don't look as sharp as usual, he's noticeably loafing between snaps, and he seems to have no chemistry with Grossman whatsoever. Normally a very smiley and gregarious character, he hasn't cracked even the slightest grin. He doesn't look like himself ...

Kyle Orton had a pass picked off early by Camerson Worrell, but ever since, he's looked pretty good throwing the ball today. It's safe to say that this is his best day of training camp. Some of his throws are downright impressive. He's getting more action with Griese taking the day off, and the former Boilermaker is making the most of it ...

Danieal Manning is getting some action at kick returner again. After seeing time in that spot back in mini camp, he hadn't returned one in Bourbonnais. Yet there he was in Friday night's exhibition opener fielding a kickoff in the first quarter. Very unexpected. He did some special things back at Abilene Christian, but it is a little strange seeing a safety back deep ...

Grossman hesitates just a smidge too long on a throw to John Gilmore, and Hunter Hillenmeyer jumps the route to come up with the interception. "We got one!" members of the defense shout as Hillenmeyer races the other way. There are a handful of pick-sixes every day ...

That eye-opening performance on Friday night must have done wonders for the confidence of Rashied Davis. He really looks strong today, including a stretching catch on a deep post that challenged every inch of his 5'9" frame. It was disappointing to lose out on the Antwan Randle El sweepstakes to Washington, but Davis looks to have that kind of ability from the slot ...

Muhsin Muhammad is having a good practice, as well. Not only does he make a jugglng catch on a Grossman pass that Charles Tillman probably should have picked off (and subsequently taunting him by repeating "It's mine, dog!" as he jogs back to the huddle), but he even pops Alex Brown real good with a crackback block on a running play ...

Just two more practices left from Olivet Nazarene University, and Bear Report will have all the details again tomorrow.

JC


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