- It's a rainy and miserable day here in Lake Forest, so today's session has been moved indoors at Halas Hall. And since Mother Nature didn't get much of a chance to mess with practice, apparently the ghost of Thomas Edison has decided to take over. The electricity goes out on a few occasions as well as the auxiliary power, so a good portion of the day is spent in near darkness and causes the local camera crews to shout obscenities every now and then.
- Several players are not participating fully in drills today because of various injuries, including Corey Graham, Tommie Harris, Brandon McGowan, Tim Mixon, John Tait, and Charles Tillman. Harris and Tillman, however, appear to be just about fully recovered and spend some time running patterns and throwing passes to each other in the early going. Harris would later do some light work with the rest of his defensive line mates, so he's doing more and looks better then he did at mini camp a few weeks ago.
- No doubt about it, today is a big day for the defense both in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. Quarterback Rex Grossman has been awful for the majority of practice and had his second pass of the session tipped and intercepted by linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer. Then backup QB Brian Griese steps in and sees his first throw picked by reserve linebacker Rod Wilson. Grossman never looks sharp and has been throwing wildly from start to finish. And in 7-on-7, half of his passes are check-downs to fullback Jason McKie because Grossman is dancing around the pocket and can't find an open receiver downfield.
- Wide receiver Mark Bradley was unquestionably the most disappointing player on offense during mini camp, dropping balls all over the place and appearing genuinely confused at times. But today, he looks much more like the former second-round pick that showed so much promise as a rookie in 2005 before injuring his knee. Not only is Bradley the target for a ton of throws today, but he makes every catch and shows some serious burst in the open field running away from corners and safeties.
- The offense seems to be calling a lot of plays out of the shotgun today for some reason. It's no secret that the shotgun usually isn't a big part of the typical west coast offense, and it has been rumored for years that All-Pro center Olin Kreutz simply doesn't care for the technique. But since sloppy footwork is usually the root cause for most of Grossman's errant throws, perhaps offensive coordinator Ron Turner will call more shotgun this season in obvious passing situations.
- I'm predicting it right now: Brandon Rideau is going to make the 53-man roster. After spending the majority of last season on the practice squad, the former Kansas Jayhawk has shined so far this offseason and makes a few more tough catches today. It's quite possible that the Bears will keep six wide receivers since Devin Hester is more of a utility player on offense and special teams, which means Rideau could earn a spot behind Bradley, Muhsin Muhammad, Bernard Berrian, and Rashied Davis.
- Receiver Mike Hass authors the play of the day on a quick screen from Griese. Cornerback Dante Wesley closes on him shortly after the reception, but Hass makes one fake to the left and leaves Wesley in the dust as he breaks through the secondary to his right. This incites a chorus of oohs and aahs from almost every other player on the sideline as Wesley just stands there dumbfounded.
- Kicker Robbie Gould practices like a little kid running around Six Flags in Gurnee and tries to make every single tackle on special teams. At the beginning of the day, he gives me a hard time for showing up today wearing my prized Chicago White Sox hat – I was anticipating possibly being out in the rain. "I thought you were supposed to be unbiased," Gould says, relishing the opportunity to bust my balls a little bit.
- One of the more interesting drills in practice is when defensive coordinator Bob Babich instructs his unit on how to react when offensive players shift or go in motion. Some of the reserves like safety Jay Staggs and linebacker Danny Verdun Wheeler are lining up at various offensive positions and moving all over the place as the starting defense makes its adjustments. Nickelback Ricky Manning Jr. in particular never seems to be in the same place twice because his responsibility is so dependent on what the offense is trying to do.
- Tank Johnson didn't do very much in mini camp considering he had just gotten out of jail and did not have the ability to stay in very good shape, but he's participating fully today. After today's practice, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Johnson's punishment and suspended him for the first eight games of the regular season. But so long as he stays out of trouble and remains compliant with a few conditions, that suspension will likely be cut down to six games. He was very calm and quite relieved when talking to the press in the media room shortly thereafter, probably because he finally knows his fate. According to Johnson, "It's not my call to say if it's fair or unfair, but Roger Goodell is a fair man."
DT Dusty Dvoracek
On if he's further along than last year even though he was injured:
"Absolutely. As far as knowing the scheme, knowing all the plays, not having to worry about coming to practice and learning as much – it's just review. Getting to know the guys, I think you just feel more comfortable. I think once you start feeling comfortable, it makes everything easy. You just go out and play. You're not trying to impress people as much. You're just going out there playing, and that's when you play your best."
DT Tommie Harris
On how he's progressing from last year's torn hamstring:
"I'm right on schedule. I'm ahead of schedule, but we're just taking time. We have nothing but time right now. It wouldn't make any sense to come back early just to prove a point to people how fast I can come back ... You'll see."
RB Cedric Benson
On whether he's gone through a maturation process the last two years:
"Not much has changed for me. I'm just going to approach every game – every season – like I always have. But this year without a doubt there will be a little something more there just because there's a lot less going on."
TE Greg Olsen:
On what it felt like in today's practice to get reps with the first team
"It's nice, but we've got a long way to go. There's a lot of things I'm slowly learning and [will] try to pick up on. There's a lot of offense to install. This is only Day 3 with the veterans for me because I wasn't able to be at mini camp. I'm just trying to learn as fan as I can and whatever I can contribute to the offense, just be ready."
QB Rex Grossman
On the difference between this year's running backs and last year's:
"I think Adrian Peterson is overlooked a lot of the times. He's going to be a big part in our offense, and obviously Cedric is going to be the main guy. It's just going to be a different year. Different guys in the huddle, and I'm looking forward to all the different plays we're going to be running."
|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.|