Training Camp Report: Day 18

The Monsters of the Midway got back to work in Bourbonnais after opening the preseason with a comeback win over the Texans. Rex Grossman was a lot sharper down in Houston than he is in Monday's practice, and Brian Urlacher is slowly working himself back into the mix after a few days off. BearReport.com had a front-row seat for all the action at Olivet Nazarene University and filed this report.

BLIPS, BLURBS & BLASTS
Several players are not participating in practice tonight, including offensive guard Ruben Brown, center Olin Kreutz, offensive tackle Aaron Brant, linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, fullback Jon Goldsberry, quarterback Kyle Orton, and linebacker Michael Okwo. Brian Urlacher is back in action for the first time in a while, although he only takes part in positional drills and doesn't take any live reps. Defensive back Tyler Everett is sidelined half-way through practice with an apparent right foot injury, but one fan doesn't seem overly concerned and actually asks Everett for an autograph as he is sitting on the medical cart near the stadium seating ...

Quarterback Rex Grossman threw the ball pretty well in the first preseason game and did a good job of simply taking what the defense gave him, but he's having a rough go of it tonight in both 7-on-7 and 11-on-11. He seems to be overthrowing his receivers on most of the deep balls, although he feathers a sideline pass to Devin Hester over linebacker Jamar Williams and in front of cornerback Charles Tillman that may have been his best throw of camp to date. I was chatting with Dan Bernstein of the 670 The Score at the time, and he simply could not stop talking about how good of a pass that was. But Grossman is also a little bit sloppy from time to time, dropping a snap from center and then dropping another one later in the shotgun. Perhaps the defense is just having a good night in coverage ...

Stop the presses, people. Receiver Mike Hass actually drops a pass in Monday's practice. The former Oregon State Beaver had been having a great camp, catching everything in sight and making waves as perhaps worthy of a spot on the 53-man roster. Quarterback Brian Griese hits him in the hands with a short pass down the seam, but Hass can not reel it in. The media on the sideline can't believe what they just saw because the kid has been money every time the ball's in the air anywhere near him ...

I received an e-mail on Monday from a sports writer who covers football at Louisiana-Monroe, asking me about how punter Joel Stelly is performing in camp so far. Needless to say, there was no need to elaborate too much. He doesn't have a chance to make this team because veteran Brad Maynard has been punting circles around him since Day 1. And even if Maynard wasn't still one of the best in the league, Stelly has done nothing to distinguish himself as an NFL-caliber punter. To say he's mildly inconsistent is to say the Pope is mildly Catholic ...

On the very first snap of 11-on-11 action, linebacker Rod Wilson undercuts a pass from Grossman intended for receiver Muhsin Muhammad but drops the interception. He's pretty upset about it after the whistle, kicking the football in frustration as opposed to picking it up and running with it like the defense is taught to do every time the pigskin hits the ground – even on incomplete passes. Wilson is getting a lot of time at middle `backer again tonight because Urlacher isn't doing much, and he's got a pretty good chance of making the team if he proves he can be a quality contributor on special teams ...

There's a new wrinkle on offense right there that I haven't seen yet so far in camp. Rookie Greg Olsen feigns a block on the left side of the line of scrimmage before turning around and catching a tight end screen from Grossman. He makes his way downfield behind guard Terrence Metcalf and tackle John Tait for what could have been a big-gainer. The coaching staff is quickly discovering just how special Olsen is, so they're going out of their way to get him involved any way they can ...

Here's your daily training camp update on undrafted free agent quarterback Chris Leak: he's still not any good. No velocity on his passes at all, stunning inaccuracy on any throw down the field, and very little athleticism in the pocket. A lot of fans were surprised that Leak didn't at least get a series or two in Saturday's preseason opener, but perhaps the organization is already convinced that he's nothing more than an extra arm in camp and doesn't need to waste any live bullets on him to know that he's not good enough to play in this league ...

There's something else on offense that I don't recall seeing before this evening. Fullback Jason McKie actually gets a carry in 11-on-11 drills, the first time he's actually been handed the ball all camp long. McKie has turned himself into a pretty good receiver out of the backfield as a safety valve in the passing game, but the fullback position is simply not the offensive weapon it used to be for most offenses across the NFL. Even when the Bears had Walter Payton, the greatest football player to ever put on a uniform, Matt Suhey would still get a handful of carries every game just to keep the defense honest. But there simply aren't many Tom Rathman-type fullbacks these days ...

With Hillenmeyer not feeling well and being held out of action, he is getting a lot of snaps tonight at strongside linebacker. Williams is technically listed second on the depth chart over on the weak side behind Pro-Bowler Lance Briggs, but then he also started in the middle on Saturday night with Urlacher in street clothes. That tells me Williams is the primary backup at all three linebacker positions right now, although head coach Lovie Smith insists Hillenmeyer is the starter at strong no matter what right now ...

The most noteworthy play in 11-on-11 tonight is a sweep to the right for Cedric Benson, not because of the sweep itself but because it appears for a moment that Benson is threatening to throw the ball like it's a halfback option pass. He's running the sweep a little deeper than usual and pulls up just for a microsecond, but I guess he didn't have an open receiver downfield and simply continues to run around the right end. Offensive tackle Mark LeVoir gets into a minor scrap with Tillman because he put an especially hard block on him, but they both head back to their respective huddles after only some innocent pushing and shoving.

FYI: Hester is going really hard in practice tonight compared to last week, catching a ton of balls in the passing game, running an end around, and blazing past defenders all the way to the end zone every time he gets some daylight in the open field.

DE Copeland Bryan and LB Leon Joe (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

NOTABLE QUOTABLES
QB Rex Grossman
On being back in Bourbonnais after the first preseason game:
"It's kind of weird to get back here. It takes a little while to get into a rhythm, and I'll look forward to tomorrow's practice, too."

CB Nathan Vasher
On coming back to beat the Texans with their best players on the sideline:
"It just shows that we know how to win ballgames when the score's tight like that. ... We have a lot of guys that can come in and step in and play, so we're really excited about that. Just encouraged about all the young guys that came in and a made a great contribution the other day."

Head coach Lovie Smith
On the play of Dusty Dvoracek in the preseason game on Saturday:
"He was solid at the nose. Dusty is a tough guy we brought in here to be our nose guard and take on the double-teams and like doing it. And that's exactly what he's doing."

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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