- As you have probably heard by now, Alex Brown has been demoted to second string and Mark Anderson has been elevated to the starter's role at right defensive end. Needless to say, Brown is incredibly upset with the decision and not his usual affable self in Lake Forest this weekend. He's still sure to see plenty of snaps with the way the Bears rotate their defensive linemen on game day, but there's a certain stigma attached with a proven veteran like him having to come off the bench. However, this guy is still a pro's pro and hasn't let his personal situation affect his commitment to the team. When rookie DE Dan Bazuin was asked which player has been helping him the most so far, without hesitation, he said it was Brown.
- It's only the second day of veteran mini camp in mid-May, but several players are being given a veterans' day of rest on Saturday. Guard Ruben Brown and center Olin Kreutz are watching most of the action from the sideline today, although Kreutz apparently can't sit still the entire practice and actually plays some linebacker with the scout team against the first-string offense. Brown has been to nine Pro Bowls in 12 seasons, so he can take all the holidays he wants and give his reps to youngsters like Tyler Reed and Josh Beekman because they need the experience.
- One of the players who has opened some eyes already this weekend is wide receiver Brandon Rideau, who spent last season on the practice squad. He's been getting a lot of snaps with the second unit on offense, and he's used his wiry frame to elevate and make some tough catches both yesterday and today. At 6'3" and 200 pounds, he presents serious matchup problems for defensive backs, and assuming Devin Hester is technically listed as a running back as expected, Rideau has a chance to make this team as the No. 5 wideout.
- Quarterback Rex Grossman was not especially sharp in the early going and throwing behind his receivers on the slant routes, but he's been much more accurate now that he's moved on to the deeper throws. Regardless of how he looks in practice, no one can deny that he seems much more relaxed when talking to the media this weekend and appears to have let last season's avalanche of criticism melt away. You have to give the guy credit no matter what you feel about his 2006 performance because he took every ounce of blame thrown at him and didn't shy away from any tough questions. I think he's becoming more of a leader each and every day. Whether that actually translates on Sundays, I guess we'll see.
- If there's one player in particular on offense who has not looked very good these first two days, it's wide receiver Mark Bradley. Bears fans have been waiting quite some time for this guy to live up to his incredible talent, and although he seems to be completely healthy for the first time since he tore his knee two seasons ago in Detroit, he's dropping a ton of balls out there. Bradley needs to be contributing to this passing attack because he's capable of some big plays, but right now, he doesn't deserve to get on the field ahead of the likes of Muhsin Muhammad, Bernard Berrian, or Rashied Davis.
- On the other hand, Hester continues to impress while running with the wideouts and has not let a ball hit the ground in two days of practice. He continues to line up wide and got yet another end-around given to him today in skeleton drills, although I have yet to see him in the backfield. Remember that mini camp only covers the basics, so we won't be able to see too much of what offensive coordinator Ron Turner has in store for his newest weapon until we get to Bourbonnais for training camp.
- I have no idea how active Tank Johnson was during his 60-day jail stint at Cook County, but I'm guessing not much because he's done next to nothing in two days. Dusty Dvoracek and Antonio Garay have been getting most of the time with the first team as Johnson has been sitting back and watching the action. When he addressed reporters in the media room after practice on Friday, I came away quite impressed with what he had to say. He spoke about his meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the overwhelming support he has received from the Bears organization. Say what you want about today's spoiled professional athletes, but I find myself pulling for Johnson a little more each and every day.
- Brian Urlacher looks to be in midseason form already, although he did drop a sure interception over the middle on a pass from Grossman in 7-on-7 drills. It's almost like Urlacher gets bigger and bigger every season. He's just a monster out there and has a presence about him like almost no other player in football.
- Jamar Williams continues to line up as the starter at weakside linebacker alongside Urlacher, but he appears to be a step slow in pass coverage. Tight end Desmond Clark catches a few passes over the middle today as Williams just can't get there in time to knock them down. The Bears do very little blitzing and prefer to pressure opposing quarterbacks with their front four, so he'll have to get used to playing in space and covering because he'll be doing it a lot.
- On the transaction front, tight end Richard Angulo, who spent last season on the practice squad, had his contract terminated on Saturday. On top of that, running back Gerald Riggs Jr. and wide receiver Jayson Swain have been placed on waivers. Swain, an undrafted free agent who signed with the Bears after the draft, actually left the team for an undisclosed reason.
DT Dusty Dvoracek
On how he's feeling now after missing last season to injury:
"I can't tell you how glad I am to be back on the field. It's going to take me a little while to catch up as far as speed is concerned, but I feel so much better than I did all last year. I am very optimistic that I'll be playing better than ever in a short period of time."
DE Alex Brown
On how difficult mini camp has been for him personally:
"The mini camp has gone well. I feel very good physically and mentally. Yes, there is competition for position, but I don't want to talk about that. I'll answer questions about today or about yesterday. Even about tomorrow, but that's it. If you want quotes other than that, you're not going to get them."
DE Dan Bazuin
On what it's like now that he's officially in the NFL:
"What a great experience. I'm having a lot of fun. It's been everything I'd hoped for and even more. What has surprised me is how nice everybody here is. Maybe that changes once we're in training camp, though. The player who has been helping me the most is Alex Brown. He's taking the time to answer my questions and show me some moves. The coaches are also incredibly patient with the rookies. They don't seen to mind if we don't get something right away."
S Mike Brown
On whether he changed up his training regimen after yet another injury:
"I think people misunderstood what type of injury I had. It had nothing to do with pulling a muscle or anything like that. It was I got caught in a pile and tore a ligament. So it had nothing to do with my body breaking down on me. There's a certain point where bones and ligaments tear when there's a lot of weight and the foot is caught. I was just caught in a bad position. I couldn't get my foot up out of a pile and had about a ton on me. There's a breaking point somewhere, and I just happened to go past that breaking point."
Head coach Lovie Smith
On if Adam Archuleta is the same player he remembers from St. Louis:
"He's a better player than I remember from a few years back. Normally with experience it happens that way, but he's a better football player now and should only help us. "
|John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and Editor in Chief of BearReport.com. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.|