OTA Report: Monday, June 18

Lovie Smith employs a 10-week offseason program, but all of that comes to a close this week in Lake Forest. Lance Briggs has been the only absentee at OTAs, although it doesn't appear that he has been missed that much. Monday's session offered several highlights on both sides of the ball. BearReport.com had a front-row seat at Halas Hall and got to see all the action up close.

  • Bears fans should be quite encouraged by the progress Tommie Harris is making. Many of the defensive linemen are running sprints at about three-quarter speed from sideline to sideline, and Harris is leading the charge ahead of Dusty Dvoracek, Dan Bazuin, and even Mark Anderson. I'm not sure he would be ready to go if the Bears had a game this Sunday, but by training camp, it appears that Harris will be back at full strength and ready to re-discover his All-Pro form.

  • A few players are still not participating today, specifically John Tait, Tyler McMeans, and Brandon McGowan. Ruben Brown is nowhere to be found, but nobody's earned more veteran vacation days than that guy. Tait does some running on his own toward the end of practice and doesn't seem to be laboring too much, so he's on the comeback trail and, like Harris, should be ready to go by the time we get to Bourbonnais.

  • It's hard to tell if the running backs are having a rough day catching the ball or if Chris Leak is simply not throwing very accurately. While Rex Grossman, Brian Griese, and Kyle Orton sling passes to the receivers and tight ends during positional drills every day, fourth-stringer Leak gets assigned to the boys in the backfield. In the span of four snaps, he fails to connect with Cedric Benson, Jason McKie, and Adrian Peterson, and since I'm constantly accused of being a card-carrying Gator hater, I'll just go ahead and say that Leak is struggling.

  • One of the harder patterns for a receiver to run is what I call the in-and-out route, when he splits wide to one side, starts on a slant toward the middle, but then slams on the brakes and reverses field out toward the flat. Devin Hester probably hasn't run this pattern very often, but he sure looks fluid coming in and out of his breaks and is still catching every ball thrown his way. I admit that I was a little skeptical about Hester's move to offense because he wasn't very effective there in college, but I must say, he's been nothing short of dynamite in the offseason program based on everything I've seen.

  • Mark Bradley has had some sort of roller coaster ride in the offseason. He was arguably the worst performer on the entire team back in veteran mini camp, but then he looked awfully good the first week of OTAs. Unfortunately, it looks like he's reverted back to, dare I say it, 'Evil Mark' and has dropped at least three passes today that hit him right in the hands. This guy just might be the most talented receiver on the roster, but I'm telling you, it's no guarantee that he even makes this team. Hungry youngsters like Brandon Rideau and Mike Hass certainly haven't struggled this badly, and as a matter of fact, they've both been pretty good.

  • There was a little comic relief in the middle of practice. As the second-team offense is casually running plays at about half speed, Griese hits Hass over the middle for a moderate gain. Somebody on the other side of the ball – I couldn't make out exactly who said it – busts Griese's chops about only throwing to other "white guys."

  • Lance Briggs will be happy because Jamar Williams just intercepted Grossman on a pass intended for Greg Olsen down the seam. If Williams can defend that play, then the Bears will be in very good shape on defense this season. We all know that Brian Urlacher can retreat down the middle as well as any linebacker in the league, which is incredibly tough to do, but Williams did it beautifully there and was rewarded with a pick.

  • On the special teams front, Filip Filipovic has been noticeably better today than he was the first few weeks of OTAs. It's not like veteran Brad Maynard has anything to worry about because he's been nothing short of spectacular, but it's good to see Filipovic making progress and possibly giving himself a chance to audition for another team in the preseason. He'll put up more of a challenge for Maynard than hit-or-miss specialist Joel Stelly did last year, that's for sure.

  • I continue to be impressed by Garrett Wolfe, who looks very fast in and out of the hole running the ball today. He needs to learn patience at the line of scrimmage in order to find a crease, but once he makes up his mind, he explodes to the next level and appears faster than every defender out there once he breaks into the secondary. I like Adrian Peterson a lot and think he can be a solid No. 2 tailback in this league, but offensive coordinator Ron Turner has got to be excited about what he might be able to do with Wolfe at his disposal.

  • And as far as the whole Grossman/Harris 'feud' goes, once again, I feel this is a case of the media making too much out of a story that was never really there in the first place. Harris was at Donovan McNabb's charity golf outing over the weekend, and he made some comments about wanting to have McNabb as a member of the Bears. Harris has a very clever and understated sense of humor, so I believe this was a case of the Philadelphia media, who don't know him very well, taking Harris too seriously. When we asked Harris about it after Monday's practice, he went so far as to call Grossman over to him just to show everyone that they had made nice and there were no hard feelings. I'm sure Grossman may have been a little miffed on some level, but not enough to do any real damage.

Garrett Wolfe continues to catch the ball quite well and looked very fast Monday

DT Tommie Harris
On the comments he made about Donovan McNabb this past weekend:
"Donovan and I were joking the whole day. Donovan was behind the cameras laughing. We were joking around. It escalated to more than it was. I apologized to my team. I was very embarrassed how much it blew up. My team forgave me. That's all that matters. I was joking. I have to be careful. I learned from my mistake."

QB Rex Grossman
On if the situation between Harris and himself is over now:
"Yeah. It was never really started. It's not that big a deal."

CB Nathan Vasher
On what it's like having four rookie cornerbacks on the roster:
"I talk to those guys, and I see myself not that many years ago coming into Halas Hall with a dazzled look in my eyes. They are somewhat confused and uncertain what their roles might be, so I'm trying to help them settle down some. That's the only way they can relax and learn the system."

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.

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