Training Camp Report: Day 12

It's a good thing the Bears offense didn't perform like this on Sunday night at Soldier Field because they would have been booed by 40,000 strong. Not only was quarterback Rex Grossman intercepted three times, but receivers were dropping passes with frightening regularity. BearReport.com had a front-row seat for all the action at Olivet Nazarene University and filed this report.

BLIPS, BLURBS & BLASTS
The Bears are getting healthier and don't have as many players being held out of action tonight, although there are still some notable absences. Tight end John Gilmore, linebacker Brian Urlacher, receiver Bernard Berrian, linebacker Michael Okwo, tailback Adrian Peterson, and fullback Jon Goldsberry are watching this practice from the sideline. Gilmore, Urlacher, and Berrian are simply taking a veteran's day after Monday's off day, which equates to a little two-day vacation. Peterson was nowhere to be found at either the morning or evening practice, but head coach Lovie Smith says that he was excused for "personal reasons." Goldsberry, who has been sidelined for about a week now, could be a memory very soon after the team signed fullback Quadtrine Hill on Tuesday afternoon ...

You'll notice that rookie defensive end Dan Bazuin was not on the above list of absentees, which comes as a little bit of a surprise considering how much time he's missed already with a bad left knee. He was supposed to be in the rotation up front with Adewale Ogunleye at left end, but it looks less and less like Bazuin will have any sort of impact this season. There are even rumors afoot that he could be placed on injured reserve so he can fully heal because the team doesn't really need him right now and that roster spot in precious ...

Everyone knows that receiver Devin Hester can absolutely blaze, but now I'm starting to wonder if even quarterback Rex Grossman is overestimating that speed to some degree. Hester runs a fly pattern down the right sideline during 7-on-7 drills, but Grossman overthrows him by about five yards. This has happened several times over the course of training camp for some reason, and now I'm thinking that Grossman is simply giving Hester too much credit in terms of his ability to separate. Earlier, Hester made a sick one-handed catch during positional drills on a deep-in pattern over the middle, which gets a few "oohs" and "aahs" from the crowd. He also finds some space on an end-around, a play we saw during the offseason program but hasn't really been utilized in Bourbonnais ...

You can see that receiver Brandon Rideau and cornerback Corey Graham are battling hard for a spot on the 53-man roster. During special teams drills, the two of them are lined up opposite each other with Rideau at gunner and Graham defending him. The two of them lock up at the line of scrimmage, and things get a little chippy before Graham finally lets go and Rideau sprints down the field in coverage ...

There's just no way to sugarcoat this on Tuesday night: the offense looks absolutely horrible. It's not so much that the defense is playing really well, but wideouts are dropping balls, quarterbacks are making bad reads, and offensive linemen are not holding their blocks. The theme of the night is dropped passes, which gets contagious for pretty much every receiver, tight end, and running back on the roster. Except for receiver Mike Hass, of course – that guy catches everything. I count 11 dropped passes tonight, including a pair from receiver Muhsin Muhammad that hit him right between the "8" and the "7" on his jersey ...

Both starting cornerbacks, Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher, are having very good nights in coverage. Tillman comes up with a pair of interceptions off Grossman, the first in 7-on-7 drills as Rideau and receiver Rashied Davis get mixed up on a route combination. The second pick was one of the better defensive plays of camp so far. Grossman is looking for Rideau again down the right sideline, but Tillman manages to reach back and tip the ball to himself in order to secure the football as Rideau goes crashing out of bounds. Vasher would get Grossman later in 11-on-11 as he jumps the route on a slant to tight end Desmond Clark, although Vasher did look bad on one particular play and would have been called for an obvious pass-interference penalty on Bradley ...

As for the rest of the offense, quarterbacks Brian Griese and Kyle Orton have been altering with the second- and third-team for a few days now. I'm still fully expecting Griese to emerge from the exhibition season as the No. 2 QB on the depth chart since that's the reason he was brought to Chicago in the first place, but Orton is applying more pressure than he did a year ago. Neither of them is intercepted in Tuesday night's practice, which breaks a dubious streak that Griese had going since the first day of camp ...

Here's a summation of all the dropped passes tonight: receiver Mark Bradley on a beautiful throw down the seam from Grossman; fullback Jason McKie on a simple dump pass from Grossman; Muhammad on a ball over the middle from Grossman; Rideau over the middle from Griese although it was a little behind him; fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo on a flat pass from Orton; tight end Fontel Mines on a drag pattern from Griese; receiver David Ball on a down-and-in from Griese; tight end Greg Olsen on a ball in the flat from Grossman; another one for Ball over the middle from Orton; another for Muhammad from Grossman; and, finally yet another in a long line of drops during training camp for receiver Drisan James on a slant from Griese ...

Down in the trenches, Ogunleye is rewarded thanks to some discipline within the scheme. Grossman runs a mini-bootleg to the right after a play-action fake to the left, but Ogunleye holds his ground and is there waiting for him the second he turns around and blows up the play for what would have been an easy sack. He and fellow defensive end Alex Brown are pretty much splitting the reps on the left side these days, while Mark Anderson is staying put on the right side and having a good camp so far in terms of putting pressure on the quarterback ...

With Urlacher taking the night off, second-year linebacker Jamar Williams is lining up in the middle with the first team defense in the base package. When nickelback Ricky Manning Jr. trots onto the field, Williams comes off and linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer moves over from the strong side to the middle. Williams is technically second-string on the weak side behind Lance Briggs, although it's possible that he could be the first linebacker off the bench at all three positions.

FYI: It was brutally hot for Tuesday morning's practice and still very humid in the evening session, and the heat is not supposed to let up much on Wednesday. Nevertheless, Coach Smith elected to keep Wedneday's workout at 3:00 p.m. because he wants his team to be prepared to play in the elements.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

NOTABLE QUOTABLES
Tailback Cedric Benson
On if he's looking forward to the first preseason game against the Texans:
"Yeah. The preseason, what a fun thing it is. But I'm looking forward to the regular season. We're going to use these opportunities – these preseason games, I know me especially – to fine tune everything."

Defensive end Dan Bazuin
On the severity of his injury and what it felt like to practice again:
"This is something that just kind of came up. It's not something that's happened in the past, so it' really hard to tell. ... It felt really good to finally get back out there. To run through some drills and be confident in my knee was a big step for me."

Head coach Lovie Smith
On Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher coming up with some interceptions:
"We paid those guys to make plays like that. They're both good football players. Turnovers or takeaways on defense is what it's all about. It's good to see defensively us getting some. Looking at the other side of the football, we have to be able to protect the ball better."

On whether all the drops by the receivers tonight bothered him:
"Not really. That's what practice is all about. We're not game-ready yet. You go through spells like that. You need to be able to have to catch the football under conditions like that. The first time, normally it's ugly like that. We'll improve the next day."

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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