WLB Lance Briggs, who boycotted off-season activities in protest of being franchised, was back with the first team on the second day of camp ...
RB Cedric Benson was rested during Saturday's practice after taking nearly all of the first-team reps during the first week of camp ...
WLB Jamar Williams, displaced from the starting lineup by the return of Briggs, returned an interception 90-plus yards in the goal-line session of Saturday's practice and also forced a fumble ...
QB Rex Grossman, who had been making the defense look bad most of camp, was intercepted three times during a Friday night practice ...
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Kyle Orton vs. Brian Griese
Third-string quarterback Kyle Orton took a good chunk of the second-team snaps during Wednesday's practice and continued to look sharper than second-stringer Brian Griese, as has been the case throughout camp.
But offensive coordinator Ron Turner cautioned against jumping to any conclusions.
"There's nothing to read into that at all," Turner said, "other than the fact that Kyle's playing well. He had a great off-season, and [he's] having a good camp. It's things you do. You get all three guys reps. Brian's our No. 2. He's getting the majority of reps with the second group, (but) Kyle got some today."
After being force fed 15 starts as a rookie in 2005 because of injuries – and winning 10 of those starts – Orton was buried behind Grossman and Griese last season. His response then wasn't ideal, but he's back with a vengeance this year. No one's saying he can't move up to No. 2 eventually.
"It's great just to get back into a competitive situation," the former fourth-round pick said. "Last year when I came into camp, I knew where I was going to be. I knew I was going to be a three. I probably didn't take that the best way, but this year I just took it upon myself to just try to make it a competition and see where it falls."
OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Darwin Walker vs. Dusty Dvoracek
Bears general manager Jerry Angelo insisted that the acquisition of eighth-year veteran Darwin Walker early in training camp was a move a Super Bowl contender can't refuse to make, rather than an indictment of the players who were already in supporting roles alongside Pro Bowl tackle Tommie Harris.
The Bears were hoping Dusty Dvoracek, Anthony Adams and Antonio Garay could fill the void at defensive tackle left by the loss of Tank Johnson, Ian Scott and Alfonso Boone. But last Sunday they added Walker to the mix when they acquired him from the Bills for a fifth-round draft pick next year and awarded him a five-year, $25 million renegotiated contract. He's expected to be the opening-day starter, although Dvoracek is expected to play significant snaps in a rotation.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: WR Mike Hass
While newly converted wide receiver Devin Hester and rookie TE Greg Olsen have been the offensive stars of training camp so far, they haven't caught the ball any better or more consistently than Mike Hass.
He spent last season on the practice squad when the Bears snapped him up after the Saints drafted him in the fifth round but then waived him, hoping to sneak him back onto their practice squad.
After eight days of practices, no one can recall Hass dropping a pass. Not in 11-on-11 team segments, 7-on-7 work or individual receiving drills. Still, with starters Muhsin Muhammad and Bernard Berrian ahead of him plus Mark Bradley, Hester and Rashied Davis, Hass is competing with Drisan James, David Ball, Brandon Rideau and Timon Marshall for, at the most, one spot. He's the early leader based on his flawless hands and good size (6'1", 206 pounds).
"I'm pleased, but I still have a ways to go learning some hot [reads] and protections and those types of thing," he said. "I just have to keep making plays. If I make enough plays, I'll open enough eyes and good things will happen for me."
Hass was in a similar situation when he enrolled at Oregon State as a walk-on, and that worked out pretty well for him. The Portland native won the 2005 Fred Biletnikoff Award as the top receiver in the nation after catching 90 passes for 1,532 yards. He set school career records with 220 catches and 3,924 yards and became one of just 10 players in NCAA history with more than 1,000 receiving yards in three seasons.
But Hass doesn't have the flat-out speed of a Berrian or the freaky change-of-direction skills of a Hester. But he does have a knack for never letting the ball hit the ground when it's thrown in his vicinity.
TE Greg Olsen continues to catch the ball extremely well, especially downfield and has also demonstrated that he can be a weapon in the red zone with several end zone receptions ... DE Dan Bazuin has lots of catching up to do. He missed most of the spring practices with a sprained knee and then reinjured it early in camp and has already been out a week and could be out another week ... RB Garrett Wolfe displayed impressive quickness on the first day of camp but was sidelined on Day 2 with a hamstring injury, which he just returned from on Saturday but in a very limited capacity ... LB Michael Okwo got a full day of work at strongside linebacker when starter Hunter Hillenmeyer was sick ... OG Josh Beekman is a mild-mannered gentleman off the field but shows a feisty side on the field. He has been a willing pupil of coaches and of veteran linemen like Olin Kreutz, often staying long after practice to fine-tune his technique ... S Kevin Payne had an impressive sideline interception on a deep route and moved up the depth chart when veteran Chris Harris was traded.
Wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad missed a fourth straight day of practice, and coach Lovie Smith still insists on referring to his "injury" as general soreness. Defensive tackle Antonio Garay remains sidelined with a hamstring injury that has lingered for more than a week. Rookie running back Garrett Wolfe returned in a limited capacity Saturday, although he's taking it easy on his strained hamstring. Rookie DE Dan Bazuin has been out a week with a sprained knee.