Training Camp Report: Day 10

Sunday night was Family Night at Soldier Field, where 40,000 enthusiastic Bears fans made their way through the turnstiles to watch the Monsters of the Midway conduct practice. Now the team will get a much deserved day of rest on Monday before heading back to Bourbonnais. BearReport.com had a front-row seat down on the field for all the action along Lake Michigan and filed this report.

BLIPS, BLURBS & BLASTS
There are several players being held out of action tonight: defensive tackle Tommie Harris, tight end Desmond Clark, fullback Jon Goldsberry, receiver Muhsin Muhammad, defensive end Dan Bazuin, defensive tackle Antonio Garay, and cornerback Dante Wesley. You know the story on the majority of that list already, although Clark and Wesley come as somewhat of a surprise. Muhammad has now missed four days in a row, even though he and head coach Lovie Smith maintain that he's simply suffering from the proverbial training camp "general soreness." Not only is Wesley not giving it a go tonight, but he was curiously not even introduced coming out of the tunnel like the rest of the team. I ask Coach Smith where Wesley is in the media scrum after practice, and it turns out that he's not in the team's plans for 2007, so the organization is apparently making an effort to trade him and may just go ahead and release him outright ...

You'll be interested to know that linebacker Lance Briggs did not hear any boos from the 40,000 or so on hand despite his efforts to hold the organization hostage in the offseason. Even if there were a few scattered jeers, you never got a chance to hear them because fellow linebacker Brian Urlacher was announced immediately after Briggs. Needless to say, the cheers were nothing short of deafening ...

Back to the Wesley situation, he has been playing fairly well in training camp so far and was actually very good in Bourbonnais a year ago, as well. Yet for some reason, the team inserted an incredibly inexperienced Devin Hester out there on defense when down to the fourth cornerback instead of the veteran Wesley. The former Carolina Panther was brought in primarily because of his special teams acumen and not his ability as a defensive back, so I assume Coach Smith is comfortable with his coverage units without him and would rather give rookie corners Corey Graham and Trumaine McBride more of a look. Undrafted free agents Tim Mixon and Greg Fassitt have also received their fair share of snaps. I never understood why Wesley wasn't moved to safety at some point in his career because he's built like one and can't seem to find a team willing to play him at cornerback anyway ...

It's time for 7-on-7 drills, and I've decided to break down each quarterback's performance as opposed to simply focusing on starter Rex Grossman. Not having his best night, Grossman connects on 8 of 12 passes, with one interception by linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer that was deflected into the air by both receiver Bernard Berrian and cornerback Charles Tillman. Brian Griese is 4-of-4, although none of his throws are down the field and he only seems to trust sure-handed receiver Mike Hass the last few days. Orton is 4-of-6, but his first pass hits receiver Drisan James – why is he still here with as bad as he's been? – right between the numbers before he drops it. Fourth-stringer Chris Leak gets just two reps but completes two passes, including a deep ball down the left sideline to receiver Brandon Rideau that may have been the highlight of the evening considering how tough a catch that was ...

Moving on to 11-on-11 action, Grossman hits on 4-of-6, and it seems more and more like Berrian is going to be the No. 1 receiver in this passing offense. Muhammad has been out of the lineup for a few days, but expect him to be more of a possession guy once he returns. Grossman also finds Hester on what they call the "zero" route, which is when the wideout takes one step and then simply turns toward the quarterback. The idea is to get the ball in the playmaker's hands as soon as possible and hope he can make that first tackler miss. Needless to say, Hester knows how to elude a defender or two and might be able to break a few long ones on the zero route this season ...

Griese takes over in 11-on-11, connecting on 2-of-3 including Hester on a deep-in route over the middle between a pair of defensive backs. With Clark being held out tonight, newly-signed tight end Brett Pierce is getting a lot of snaps with the second team. He's every bit as big as Greg Olsen and catches the ball well, but he's not near the athlete and doesn't have a trace of the rookie's open-field speed ...

Moving on to red zone drills, Grossman is successful on all four of his passes, although two of them were check-downs to his running backs – first to fullback Jason McKie and then to tailback Adrian Peterson – and one was a quick out to receiver Rashied Davis that didn't pick up much yardage. Grossman does hit Davis again on his last throw, a curl route from the slot caught just shy of the goal line before Davis dives across for the score ...

Griese completes just 2-of-4 during red zone action, neither of which gets his offense to paydirt. He connects with Olsen on a play-action pass and Hass on a quick out, but he misses Olsen over the middle on a ball that should have been intercepted by safety Danieal Manning and then he misfires looking for Pierce a play later. Griese actually takes a spill at one point as defensive tackle Anthony Adams penetrates the backfield, bowling over offensive guard Josh Beekman and causing a minor scuffle as Griese hits the deck ...

Both kickers, starter Robbie Gould and doesn't-have-a-chance-to-make-the-team Nick Novak, are having a very good night. Gould lines up for six field goals in the south end zone, splitting the uprights with ease on all of them: 28, 33, 38, 43, 48, and 53 yards. Novak gets four attempts and is also perfect: 33, 38, 48, and 53 yards. Gould, by the way, is inching dangerously close to rockstar status in Chicago. If there is anybody in the Windy City enjoying life more than this guy these days, I'd like to meet him ...

While practice has been fairly smooth so far, it ends with a whimper during the two-minute drill. Grossman manages to complete 5 of 7 passes, although one of them as an ugly off-the-back-foot effort to receiver Mark Bradley along the right sideline that had pick-six written all over it. Grossman actually misses his final two throws, both intended to Bradley, and fails to put points on the board as Gould hits the left upright on his field goal attempt. Griese is even worse, hitting just 2-of-6 and airmailing one in the direction of Hester that appears to simply be a communication breakdown. Not exactly the way 40,000 strong wanted to leave Soldier Field, but I'm afraid that's the hand they've been dealt tonight.

FYI: The Bears finally have a day off on Monday after a week and a half of training camp, but the team resumes its work at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais with two practices on Tuesday.

QB Rex Grossman (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

NOTABLE QUOTABLES
Tight end Greg Olsen
On the idea of getting 40,000 fans at Soldier Field to watch a practice:
"It's amazing. I can only imagine on game days what it's going to be like. ... It's unbelievable. I mean this was a practice. It's unbelievable, the fan support.

Defensive tackle Darwin Walker
On if the fans are expecting a lot because they give him such a warm welcome:
"Yeah, I think so. And I think that that's great. I think it's great. And everyone's going off of what I've done in the past, so now I've got a lot to prove and come out and meet people's expectations. So I'm excited about that."

Receiver Devin Hester
On the crowd going crazy every time he gets his hands on the ball:
"It's a great feeling. We kind of do it for our fans. They come out each and every day and support us. Like I say, the fans are the ones that motivate us the most. And we need all the support we can [get] from our fans, so I appreciate everything they're doing for us and I'm hoping that they continue the rest of the season."

Head coach Lovie Smith
On what it feels like to get away from Bourbonnais and be at Soldier Field:
"Normally about a week into camp, you give the guys a day off. We went a little bit longer, but we knew that we had this coming up. And as I said, it's just always good to play on this home turf. The field's in great shape, and it was a perfect night for football."

On why Dante Wesley was nowhere to be found tonight:
"We have a lot of young corners we want to get a look at. Dante [is] really not in our plans anymore. We're looking at some different options for him. ... He hasn't been cut. Right now, we're looking at different options to see what we can do with 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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