After spending Friday inside the climate-controlled confines of the Walter Payton Center, the newest Chicago Bears fought the elements on a windy and rainy Saturday at Halas Hall. Which of the rookies is starting to make his mark? And who is still yet to impress? Bear Report lets you know inside ...
Pick SixI know my boy Larry Mayer over at ChicagoBears.com wrote in his lead story after Saturday that the two undrafted free agent quarterbacks, Caleb Hanie and Nick Hill, had a good day throwing the football, although I think he had one too many sips of Midway Monster kool-aid before heading out to the practice field. Hanie wasn't so bad out there and was able to use his arm strength to zip the ball through all the wind and rain, but Hill was far from sharp and even fumbled once trying to make a routine handoff to running back Matt Forte early in the day. Bob LeGere of the Daily Herald, who, like me, doesn't have his paychecks signed by a McCaskey, was equally unimpressed with the two signal-callers.
If you watch first-round tackle Chris Williams during blocking drills with his fellow offensive linemen, it's pretty easy to pick him out of that crowd. The pair of seventh-rounders, guard Chester Adams and tackle Kirk Barton, are grunting and gasping and seemingly exhausting themselves on every snap. Williams, on the other hand, is so much more technically sound and doesn't need to expend nearly as much energy in order to make better blocks.
Wideout Earl Bennett did not have a very good debut Friday by his own admission, but it looked like he calmed down Saturday and wasn't pressing so much. That being said, he did drop a pair of passes on the one-handed-catch drill shortly after practice started, and he wasn't able to reel in a low throw from Hill during 7-on-7 action toward the end of the day. Fellow receiver Marcus Monk seems to be following coach Darryl Drake's instruction already, making a concerned effort to catch the ball with his hands away from his body and looking pretty good in the process.
Tight end Kellen Davis has already proven to be a much better receiving threat than John Gilmore ever was, although Gilmore didn't earn his keep in the Windy City by his contributions in the passing game. He served a crucial role in short-yardage and goal-line situations, effectively serving as a third tackle in the running game and catching the occasional play-action pass. Davis told me after practice that he has no problem playing behind Desmond Clark and Greg Olsen this season, but he can contribute if he commits to becoming a better blocker in the trenches.
It's hard not to like what you see right away from Forte, who already looks like a taller, faster, and better all-around player than Cedric Benson ever was. If the rumors flying around town are true and Benson's ankle injury from last season is indeed worse than originally suspected, Forte could be the primary back for this team much sooner than originally anticipated. The legendary story of Wally Pipp and Lou Gehrig comes to mind, I must say.
The front office didn't waste much time making a roster move that affects the rookie class, releasing David Faaeteete following Saturday's workout. The defensive tackle from Oregon was just signed Monday as an undrafted free agent. No official reason was given by the club, although I must admit I'm relieved because I wasn't looking forward to having to spell that last name all season long.
S Craig Steltz
Warren Wimmer Photography
Receiver James Townsend, a non-roster invitee from Rutgers, was being attended to on the sideline during special-teams work, although it appeared to just be a minor cramp due to dehydration. Fellow receiver Curtis Hamilton, an undrafted free agent signee from Western Kentucky, was being looked at for a minute on the medical cart, but he was able to continue.
Stud of the Day
If cornerback Zack Bowman is finally fully healthy after having surgey on both knees while at Nebraska, he could turn out to be a steal for this team in the fifth round. He's followed up his impressive showing at the NFL Scouting Combine with two strong days of practice thus far, looking very fluid dropping into coverage and catching most everything in sight during positional drills. Assuming second-year corners Trumaine McBride and Corey Graham continue their rapid development during the offseason program, veteran Ricky Manning Jr. and his $1.9 million base salary for 2008 could be quite expendable.
Dud of the Day
Hill has been arguably the biggest disappointment of camp, especially since general manager Jerry Angelo thought he could outsmart the system and avoid selecting a quarterback in this past weekend's NFL Draft. The Southern Illinois alumnus may have completed 67.8 percent of his passes during his career with the Salukis, but his accuracy has been just as unimpressive as his arm strength. That fumbled snap Friday to go along with Saturday's mishandled handoff will be hard for the coaching staff to forget, too.
Quote to Note
"A lot of talent. Any time you talk about a six-foot corner with that type of speed, you get excited about that. He has excellent hands, too, which is big for us. It's going to be a lot of fun working with him and seeing how far he can go." – Head coach Lovie Smith on Zack Bowman
Be sure to visit BearReport.com again Sunday, as we'll have another full report from Day 3 of rookie minicamp at Halas Hall. To go back and read JC's practice recap from Day 1, Click Here.
John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.