Training Camp Report: Day 5

The Monsters of the Midway started to shape the roster just a little on Tuesday, pink-slipping one player, bringing in two more, and signing yet another to a lucrative new contract. And perhaps best of all, Tommie Harris and Mike Brown look to be rounding into form. BearReport.com had a front-row seat for all the action at Olivet Nazarene University and filed this report.

BLIPS, BLURBS & BLASTS
The Bears made a couple of roster moves already today. Mercifully, punter Filip Filipovic was handed his walking papers after a pretty lackluster training camp performance. Yet another wide receiver was added to the mix – that's 11 now for those of you counting at home – in the form of second-year pro Clinton Solomon, a former Iowa Hawkeye who spent some time in camp with St. Louis last year. Apparently, Solomon got into a little scrape with offensive guard Roberto Garza in the morning session even though it was just his first day. Rounding out the transactions, tight end Brett Pierce, a Stanford grad who got a cup of coffee with Dallas last year, inked a two-year deal ...

Speaking of signing contracts, the Bears announced before the evening session that newly acquired defensive tackle Darwin Walker had agreed to a brand new five-year contract that will keep him on the books through 2011. GM Jerry Angelo has thrown around some serious money lately, although not a penny has gone to quarterback Rex Grossman or receiver Bernard Berrian yet – both are free agents after this season. Walker only participated in positional drills on Monday, but he worked his way into the rotation up front on Tuesday ...

During morning workouts, rookie linebacker Danny Verdun Wheeler makes perhaps the best special teams play of training camp so far by blocking a punt attempt from Joel Stelly. He shoots right up the gut and just about swallows Stelly's entire leg. Brad Maynard, on the other hand, continues to boom his punts all over the field with precision accuracy, so much so that return man Devin Hester has to field one of them by tippy-toeing along the left sideline ...

The kickoff team is practicing onside kicks for the first time, but Robbie Gould is going through a rough spell trying to get it right. First he sets the football upright and attempts to get the first bounce to shoot straight up in the air. He succeeds, but none of them travel the necessary 10 yards first. Then he tries to lay the ball on an angle in order to get that high bounce further down the field, yet the kick ends up going out of bounds. Of course, Bears fans would just assume that Gould never has to attempt an onsider in an actual game ...

Linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer has been relatively quiet thus far in camp, but that doesn't mean he hasn't been playing well. He tips a pass from quarterback Brian Griese on a down-and-out that receiver Mark Bradley somehow is still able to catch along the left sideline. Hillenmeyer is redeemed on the very next snap as he knocks down yet another throw, this one from Griese to fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo in the right flat ...

The funniest moment of the morning practice comes when quarterback Chris Leak is intercepted by safety Chris Harris on a pass down the seam intended for tight end John Gilmore. Safety Mike Brown hazes the former Florida Gator by doing the Florida State tomahawk chop as he watches from the sideline, and then cornerback Nathan Vasher chimes in with the Seminoles' famous warchant as the fans get a good laugh at Leak's expense. Again, Leak throws a tight spiral more often than not but simply does not have any trace of arm strength ...

Under the lights at Ward Field in the evening session, tailback Cedric Benson gets a little lazy and drops an easy catch in positional drills on a flag pattern. A few vocal members of the crowd actually give Benson a mild dose of boos as he heads to the back of the line. He seems to be running hard during 9-on-7 and 11-on-11, but he definitely has some lapses in concentration from time to time. Maybe that's the reason former teammate and running back rival Thomas Jones supposedly punched him in practice once last season. I'm not saying, I'm just saying ...

Berrian made his share of big catches from long distance last season, and he just made another one right there. On a straight fly route, he blows by Vasher down the left sideline and also manages to get behind Brown at free safety. Grossman delivers a perfect throw over the top of the two defenders to Berrian for what would have been about a 50-yard touchdown reception. Shortly thereafter, quarterback Kyle Orton hits Bradley on another streak down the left side, this time beating rookies Tim Mixon and Kevin Payne. Griese, on the other hand, keeps his interception streak alive as Danieal Manning gets him from the safety position once again on a pass over the middle intended for receiver Brandon Rideau ...

We're a long way from saying that Tommie Harris is back to his dominating self again, but he appears to be getting good penetration tonight. He hasn't been limited at all and is on the field for a majority of the snaps with the first team, plus he still has almost a month and a half before he really needs to be ready to go. Walker, however, jumps the snap count once or twice and already admitted that he's going to be a bit rusty ...

The absolute play of the day comes toward the end of the evening session, as Mike Brown comes up with an incredible interception off a deflected deep pass from Grossman intended for Bradley. Brown wastes no time in getting off the ground and returning the football all the way to the other end zone, taking in plenty of cheers from fans along the way. I know that Harris is an absolute beast in the trenches, but Brown simply can not be replaced with his combination of play-making ability and all-out emotion. This defense is not the same without him. Look for plenty of rest days for No. 30 in Bourbonnais.

WR Devin Hester (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

NOTABLE QUOTABLES
S Mike Brown
On the red contact lenses he's been wearing the last few years:
"I heard about the baseball players doing it, and then the Nike representative came to our locker room. I was kind of overhearing him talk about it. He said he actually went to a baseball game and put them in just to see – like he was a fan – just to see what the difference was, and he said that it made a big difference as far as like the crispness on a sunny day and things like that. So I was like, 'I'll give them a try.' I put them in, and ever since, I'm in love with them. It really does make everything a little bit crisper, keeps the glare out of your eyes."

WR Bernard Berrian
On all the additions on offense and getting used to the new faces:
"I'm pleased with what we can do with the players we got on the skill positions and just the all-around team. We can do a lot of things with the ball on the offensive side with the players we got on there."

On the different formations and variations they can now employ:
"I think it's, more or less, it's just we've been in the offense for the third year, so we're getting to the point where we can move different players in different positions. It's still the same formations and stuff, but we're moving different people around now. So we're not used to seeing everybody run the same route from the same spot just to throw everybody else off."

Quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton
On simulating a pass rush himself during positional drills for his QBs:
"I try as much as possible to create situations when working on the fundamentals that we work on in practice to create realistic game feet situations. You know what I mean, as far as footwork is concerned. It's just something that, now that I think about it, something that I started doing a few years back. I'm sure other coaches do it, as well. It's just something that I feel like institutes more of a realistic situation in the pocket for quarterbacks."

On the progress starter Rex Grossman is making with his footwork:
"He's making progress. And when you look at his success from last season – and I've had a chance to watch quite a few snaps of him playing in ballgames last year – there's evidence of him consistently doing it the right away. The one thing that you can't control in the game situation for the quarterback, one of a number of things, is what happens in the pocket. We just want to get him in a position where he's comfortable in this throwing position."

John Crist is the Editor in Chief of BearReport.com and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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