Day 20: Training Camp News & Notes

Just two more practices to go at Olivet Nazarene University, and the players are getting anxious to break camp and head back to Chicago. There was much more energy during Tuesday's session than we saw on Monday, when a certain sluggishness seemed to be contagious. The passing game had a much better day, and injured running backs Cedric Benson and Thomas Jones keep improving.

With the end of training camp plainly in sight and a resurrection game set for Friday night at Soldier Field, the Bears need to put two solid practices together. San Diego looked strong in their preseason debut last weekend, young quarterback Philip Rivers in particular. Here is a blow-by-blow account of Tuesday's session from the ONU practice field:

In addition to the usual cast of nicked-up characters, Mark Bradley is resting again today. As is Ruben Brown. Bradley is no doubt just giving his rehabilitated knee a day off, and Brown is long overdue for an excused veteran's absence. Neither should be anything to worry about, although head coach Lovie Smith has become a master at downplaying the severity of injuries. Brian Urlacher could get stabbed through the heart by a unicorn, but Smith would probably describe it as a "mild chest contusion" after practice ...

Cedric Benson is jogging with Alex Bannister and Airese Currie around the practice field while the rest of the team is beginning their drill work. Benson is even wearing a helmet and carrying a football just to get used to the idea again. He won't play Friday night but might be back in action by the third preseason game. Neither Bannister nor Currie will be available any time soon. As a matter of fact, Bannister hasn't suited up once in Bourbonnais ...

In 7-on-7 action, Rex Grossman splits Urlacher and Chris Harris on a seam route to John Gilmore, perhaps the prettiest pass he's thrown in days. He appears to be delivering the ball much better today. Maybe even more importantly, his body language just looks to be much more positive today. He had been hanging his head a little since Friday night's forgettable outing ...

Rashied Davis gator-arms a punt and subsequently fumbles the ball. He is gaining confidence every day in the passing game, but the coaching staff needs to just hand over all the return duties to Devin Hester so Davis (and Bernard Berrian, for that matter) can focus on playing offense. If they drafted Hester to be the man on punts and kickoffs, then let him do it unless he proves he can't handle the job ...

Abraham Elimimian, a NFL Europe allocation cornerback, makes a beauty of a pass-defense on a post pattern from Davis. He recently switched jerseys from #49 to #22 after Alfonso Marshall got cut. Apparently, Elimimian is not a superstitious young man ...

Davis comes back a few plays later and finds some wiggle room in the middle of the field coming out of the slot. Grossman hits him in stride for a big-gainer. It's hard to believe this guy was lining up at corner not too long ago because he looks like he could be a legitimate weapon on offense ...

Carlos Hendricks makes a circus over-the-shoulder grab for an interception off Brian Griese. The former UAB star has played well at corner and has been getting plenty of time with the second unit recently. More than Hester has, that's for sure ...

Desmond Clark continues his strong training camp and makes a nice grab in the seam from Grossman. If he can wreak some havoc down the middle, opposing safeties won't be able to cheat over on the receivers as much. The tight end position just makes the whole passing game more balanced if you have a good one ...

Chris Harris just made the hit of the day as he, somewhat accidentally, levels Berrian on a post route. If that play had been at full speed, the collision would have been devastating. Berrian was hung out to dry like yesterday's laundry. Those are the throws that will get Grossman some dirty looks in the huddle. Kyle Orton knows what that's all about after dealing with Muhsin Muhammad last season ...

Tank Johnson and Brandon McGowan are doing some drills alongside each other after practice, and for the first time, both of them are wearing helmets and shoulder pads. It looks like both will be back in action before too long. Like Benson and Jones, Week 3 of the preseason seems like a reasonable goal ...

Receivers coach Darryl Drake is viciously berating his wideouts as the rest of the team starts to make its way off the practice field. It's not quite a Lee Elia-level meltdown, but it's a good thing there aren't any kids around. Whatever he saw out of his boys today, he didn't like it ...

Just one more practice from Bourbonnais on Wednesday at 10a.m., and Bear Report will be there as always.

JC


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