Training Camp Report: Day 6

Many of the veterans took Wednesday's practice off, but there were still plenty of stories to chase in Bourbonnais at training camp. Alex Brown speaks honestly outside the cafeteria, the Drisan James watch has officially begun, and Kyle Orton is suddenly relevant again. BearReport.com had a front-row seat for all the action at Olivet Nazarene University and filed this report.

BLIPS, BLURBS & BLASTS
Sports writers dream about players like defensive end Alex Brown – you ask him a question, and he gives you a straight-up answer. After lunch today outside the cafeteria, Brown told all of us that the battle for starting honors on the right side is over. Mark Anderson is going to be the guy regardless of whether or not the coaching staff will admit it right now, so it appears that Brown is now in competition for the starting gig with his longtime partner, Adewale Ogunleye. He reiterated that he is not happy with the situation as it stands, but he promises that Bears fans will still see him giving 100% as always. When I ask Brown how much his consecutive games started streak – 64 straight but in serious jeopardy – means to him, he is quite succinct with his answer: "A lot." ...

The list of players being held out of practice on Wednesday is long and distinguished, which has to be disappointing for all the fans that made the trek to ONU. Receiver Muhsin Muhammad, defensive tackle Tommie Harris, and receiver Devin Hester are all getting a veteran's day off, while defensive end Dan Bazuin, tight end Fontel Mines, fullback Jon Goldsberry, defensive tackle Antonio Garay, and tailback Garrett Wolfe can't go because of various minor injuries. Wolfe looks like he's getting better and actually does some stretching with the rest of the running backs, but Garay must be getting worse because he wears a wrap around his upper-left leg for the duration. Bazuin may be out of action a week or two because his knee injury might be a little more severe than originally thought. I find it interesting that Hester is getting a veteran's day off as a second-year player, although the team needs to keep him fresh considering how much they're asking of him this season ...

If I had to lay money on the next player the Bears cut from training camp, I'm going with undrafted free agent receiver Drisan James. Although he's made some nice catches from time to time, he has dropped way too many for someone in his position and doesn't appear to be playing with any sense of urgency. As a return man during special teams drills on Tuesday, he actually let a kickoff hit the ground behind him and made no effort whatsoever to retrieve the ball before the coverage team got there – undrafted free agents can't do stuff like that ...

Gene Chamberlain of the Daily Southtown and I have decided that cornerback Dante Wesley is simply a training camp hero. The coaches could not stop talking about how the free agent acquisition was performing in Bourbonnais before last season, yet the team decided to go with Hester instead of Wesley when a fourth corner was needed after starter Nathan Vasher was sidelined with a bad hamstring. Wesley is once again having a terrific camp, intercepting quarterback Kyle Orton today on a pass intended for rookie tight end Greg Olsen over the middle ...

With Tommie Harris getting the day off, it's interesting to note that Dusty Dvoracek and Darwin Walker are lined up together with the starting unit at defensive tackle. Dvoracek sticks to his usual spot on the nose, while Walker takes over for Harris at the three-technique. At one point, Dvoracek bumps heads with center Olin Kreutz after an especially chippy play during 9-on-9 action. 9-on-9 is when the receivers and cornerbacks come off the field, so the focus is entirely on the running game. Every now and then, they'll even lose the safeties and go 9-on-7 just to make it a little tougher on the defense ...

Later during 9-on-9 action, tailback Cedric Benson hits the deck on back-to-back plays. First he gets flattened by Walker on an off-tackle handoff to the right, but the hit was more accidental than vicious. On the very next snap, Benson collides with Kreutz in the backfield and takes yet another spill. Remember it was about this time in training camp last year when Benson was the target of a double-pop by linebacker Brian Urlacher and safety Mike Brown that resulted in a sprained shoulder, forcing him to miss the entire preseason schedule ...

Quarterback Rex Grossman finally threw a couple interceptions the last few days, but he is slinging the ball very accurately once again on Wednesday. He completes 10 of 11 passes during 7-on-7, only missing a twisting-and-turning Bernard Berrian down the left sideline. Berrian reels in yet another bomb over Vasher, and later he torches Mike Brown for another home run ball from Grossman in the two-minute drill ...

Olsen really looked like the cat's meow the first few days of camp, but he's suddenly starting to drop a few passes every now and then. He's also getting some work at long-snapper behind reliable veteran Patrick Mannelly, however, he airmailed one over the head of punter Joel Stelly during special teams work. Starting tight end Desmond Clark has techinically been the backup long-snapper the last few seasons, so this is yet another responsibility he's passing down to Olsen ...

Not only has the remarkably poor passing of backup quarterback Brian Griese been one of the under-the-radar stories of training camp so far, but Orton looks to be throwing the ball much better than he did a year ago. He's noticeably lost a few pounds after making a commitment to get himself in better shape during the offseason, and his hard work is starting to pay dividends. There's even some chatter surfacing that Orton could wrestle the No. 2 job away from Griese if things continue in this fashion, which would explain why the former Boilermaker is suddenly of interest to the media again – the guy was a ghost in the Halas Hall locker room last season ...

Here's a rundown of Grossman's performance in 11-on-11 today: incomplete to Berrian on a quick out, complete to Clark on a quick out, complete to Rashied Davis down the seam, complete to Brandon Rideau on a quick slant, complete to Rideau on a hitch, complete to Clark down the seam, complete to Benson on a dumpoff in the flat, complete to Benson on another dumpoff out of the shotgun, and complete to Davis down the seam again. That's eight straight completions after opening with one misfire. Quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton no doubt deserves some of the credit so far, but it remains to be seen if Grossman's improved footwork carries over to real-time action.

LB Brian Urlacher (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

NOTABLE QUOTABLES
DE Alex Brown
On the difference between playing right tackle and left tackle:
"I don't want to say opposite. The moves you make on the right side you plant off the right foot, and the moves you make on the left side you plant off the other foot. So you tend to use your left hand a little more from the right side because it's the closest hand inside to the tackle, and if you're on the left side then you tend to use your right hand a little more. The plays don't change, but the way your body is, it changes a little bit."

On if the relationship between himself and Adewale Ogunleye has now altered:
"Myself and Wale, I think our relationship hasn't changed. We understand that it is a business. And in the end there's only two spots, and you've got three defensive ends. Well, actually you've got two defensive ends competing for the left side. A lot of people consider one side locked up already (Mark Anderson). I'm not one of those people."

QB Kyle Orton
On what he did differently before training camp this year as opposed to last:
"Just definitely physically got my body prepared for this camp. Pep's held every quarterback accountable for his mechanics and everything like that, so I think all of the quarterbacks have gotten better."

On whether the coaches have said he might move up to the No. 2 quarterback:
"They haven't said too much, but I'm not worried about that. I'm just going to get my game where I need to get it, and whether that means I move up on the depth chart or not, right now that's not my main goal."

Head coach Lovie Smith
On if Alex Brown still has a chance to get the job as a starting defensive end:
"We say we have three starting defensive ends. They've all played with the first team. Those are the reps all three guys are getting right now. Then from there, the two that play the best when they get their opportunities – I'm talking more about the games and things like that – will start. But all three will play."

On how well Kyle Orton has played in training camp so far:
"He's performed well throughout the offseason and of course the early drills, too. Kyle's a good football player. Of course, he's played for us a lot around here in the past, and we like him."

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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