- In an interesting twist on Wednesday, several veteran players decide to switch jerseys for the day and are going through drills wearing different numbers. Danieal Manning is sporting Chris Harris' No. 46, just as Harris dons Manning's No. 38. Devin Hester is cruising around with No. 4 on his back, the number he wore while at the University of Miami. But it was former Defensive Player of the Year Brian Urlacher who caught everyone's attention most of all. He's wearing No. 55 today, which just happens to be Lance Briggs' digits. I guess this was Urlacher's way of showing support for his fellow linebacker as he continues his holdout, although I'm sure the front office is steaming right about now.
- Hunter Hillenmeyer, who has been rather quiet during the offseason, makes his best play in a while as he bats down a pass from Brian Griese intended for Mike Hass. I stand by the fact that Brendon Ayanbadejo could be a heckuva strongside linebacker, but he's simply too valuable on special teams and perhaps indirectly helps Hillenmeyer's job security. That's partially why I believe Garrett Wolfe will eventually be the second-string tailback – Adrian Peterson is too good on the coverage units.
- Much like training camp a season ago, Rex Grossman started off slow in mini camp and OTAs but appears to be rounding into form and playing better. He's much sharper today than he was two weeks ago, and by my count, he hit 6 of 7 passes in 11-on-11 drills against the first-team defense. The lone incompletion was on a flag route to the right intended for Cedric Benson that was just out of his reach. Better to overthrow that ball than underthrow it and give the defense a chance to make a play. Grossman's best throw was a deep dig to Mark Bradley for a 20-yard gain or so in the two-minute drill that would have set up an easy field goal attempt.
- In the defensive backfield, it's notable that fifth-round cornerback Corey Graham is running with the third-team defense while seventh-rounder Trumaine McBride is entrenched with the second unit. Much of that has to do with the fact that Graham was injured his senior year at New Hampshire and is a little shy of 100%, but McBride has definitely played pretty well thus far. Also, in the first-team nickel package, Adam Archuleta is now taking over for Harris at strong safety while Mike Brown continues to be utilized exclusively at free safety.
- Wolfe just caught a short check-down pass from Kyle Orton with nothing else open on the play, but the rookie tailback made it exciting by faking both Greg Fassitt and Darrell McClover right out of their jocks. Man, he has some serious burst and is a ton of fun to watch. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner has to get creative and find additional ways to get the ball into Wolfe's hands because this kid can make things happen.
- Chris Leak finally gets a chance in 11-on-11 after sitting and watching for most of the day, but his first pass is tipped at the line of scrimmage by Copeland Bryan and nearly intercepted by Rod Wilson. Keep in mind that Leak is going against the third-team defense right now. And although he's nothing more than a backup and special-teamer at this point, Wilson has enjoyed a solid offseason and seems to be around the ball an awful lot.
- Leak redeems himself to some degree a few plays later, although he didn't have very much to do with it. First-round tight end Greg Olsen just wowed everybody at Halas Hall with an amazing one-handed catch about 20-25 yards down the middle. Although Leak's pass appeared to be overthrown, Olsen reached into the air with his left hand and made the snare in the middle of three defenders. That right there was the unquestioned highlight of the day, and all the players seem to agree. Hester, a fellow former Hurricane, is so impressed that he does a somersault before signaling first down amongst a chorus of hoots and hollers.
- Another depth chart note: Wolfe is now the second-team return man on punts. Up until now it had been Bernard Berrian. Hester certainly doesn't have to worry about losing his job, but Berrian has more important duties at receiver and Wolfe needs more opportunities to touch the football.
- It's somewhat hard to tell if Grossman is having a particularly good day or both Griese and Orton are just having bad days. You can simply look at the zip on the ball and see that Grossman gets more RPMs on his throws than the other two, and it obviously arrives at its destination much quicker. Orton seems to be in better shape physically than he was a year ago, but neither he nor Griese are in Grossman's class right now based on what I'm seeing.
- Looks like it's going to be tough to get any meaningful quotes today. As is usually the case on the last day of training camp, mini camp, or OTAs, the overwhelming majority of players make a beeline for the locker room in order to skip out on talking to the media. They just want to get home as quickly as possible and away from football for a while. Honestly, I can't say I blame them. Although, it doesn't make my job any easier.
TE Greg Olsen
On whether he realizes the high expectations of him already:
"Tell the fans that I know that this year is going to be the most incredible experience of my life. I'm a hard worker, and I plan to be ready both physically and mentally to do whatever I can to help the offense. I can't wait for the season to begin."
Head coach Lovie Smith
On Brian Urlacher wearing No. 55 today instead of his usual No. 54:
"Did he have on 55? What's in a number? A lot of the players kind of changed numbers [and] had a little fun today. I was all for it. I'm just excited that our last practice we had just about our entire football team out there."
|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.|