The Chicago Bears ended three days of minicamp drills Sunday, as the countdown to training camp has now begun. It's clear the defense is well ahead of the offense at this point, which is not a surprise. Bear Report had a front-row seat for all the action at Halas Hall and made these observations ...
Pick SixOnce again we begin with the quarterbacks, all of whom were pretty much terrible Saturday and needed to have better performances Sunday. During the two-minute drill in 11-on-11, Kyle Orton completed only 2 of 6 passes and had one intercepted by Mike Brown over the middle on a quick throw to Rashied Davis. Rex Grossman was able to connect on 4 of 6, although he did something that up until that point the media was convinced couldn't be done: he overthrew Devin Hester on a fly pattern. Orton finished strong by completing a long bomb to Brandon Lloyd, who made a tough over-the-shoulder catch after beating the combination of Corey Graham and the aforementioned Brown to the front-right pylon. Grossman, however, ended the day by airmailing a ball over the head of Greg Olsen, who had blown past Michael Okwo in man coverage and couldn't have been more open.
As far as the battle for third-string signal-caller is concerned, Caleb Hanie is clearly the better prospect and should win the job assuming the front office doesn't bring in another veteran. Nick Hill, as a matter of fact, doesn't deserve to wear an NFL uniform and makes last season's undrafted free agent QB experiment, Chris Leak, look like Randall Cunningham. Hill couldn't even take the snap from center consistently during 9-on-9 action, prompting team captain Olin Kreutz to embarrass the rookie in front of the rest of the offense: "He don't wanna be here. Get somebody else in there."
A lot of people assumed that Cedric Benson would be on his way out of town after the team drafted Matt Forte in the second round, and that was before his arrest for allegedly boating while intoxicated and resisting arrest on Lake Travis back in Austin. But Benson had a very good minicamp, as he looks noticeably lighter on his feet after dropping a few pounds and seems to be cutting well despite last season's fractured ankle. Adrian Peterson, on the other hand, got fewer reps than Garrett Wolfe over the course of the three-day session and might be out of a job.
Wide receivers coach Darryl Drake is one of the more animated members of the staff, especially when one of his players does something wrong during drills. As the wideouts worked on their blocking, undrafted free agent Curtis Hamilton made the mistake of turning his body toward the left sideline instead of keeping his shoulders parallel to the line of scrimmage. That's a big no-no in Drake's book, because it only makes the ball carrier's running lane a little smaller and increases the likelihood of injury should a tackler roll up on the back of Hamilton's leg.
Trumaine McBride was praised by most everyone last season for playing so well as a seventh-round rookie, eventually replacing Ricky Manning Jr. in the starting lineup at right cornerback after Nathan Vasher went down with an injury. But now it appears that he's behind Graham, another second-year corner, on the depth chart. Graham was getting significant snaps with the starting defense Sunday, while McBride only took the field with the second unit.
Tommie Harris and Dusty Dvoracek once again did little Sunday, as the two projected starters at defensive tackle continue to take it slow coming off last season's injuries. Israel Idonije, who bulked up a bit for what appears to be a permanent move inside to tackle, and Anthony Adams got the majority of the first-team reps, while Matt Toeaina and rookie Marcus Harrison have led the way with the second-stringers. Defensive line coach Brick Haley told me after Saturday's workout that both Harris and Dvoracek are on schedule, and there's no reason to push either one of them too much at this point of the proceedings.
QB Rex Grossman
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
For the third consecutive day, Mark Bradley was the only player out on the field who did not participate, although both Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman were absent with team-approved excuses. Marty Booker had a close call midway through the session as he collided with Hunter Hillenmeyer on a deep-in pattern – it took him about 30 seconds to get up – but was fine. Blame Grossman for that one, as the ball was delivered late.
Stud of the Day
Lloyd had an excellent minicamp from start to finish, catching everything thrown his way and looking awfully smooth running routes. And he's already very familiar with the playbook, having played for offensive coordinator Ron Turner down at Illinois and understanding the terminology quite well. But Lloyd's reputation around the league is that he's an All-Pro in practice who never seems to show up on game day, although he is essentially playing for his pro career this season and should be overflowing with motivation to do well.
Dud of the Day
It's gotten to the point where it's almost uncomfortable to watch Hill during practice. He keeps dropping snaps, has incredibly sloppy footwork, and doesn't have the arm necessary to succeed at this level. When he's asked to deliver the ball on a deep-out pattern 16-18 yards toward the sideline, a throw that every NFL QB has to make, it is usually quacking in flight and bouncing before it gets to the numbers.
Quote to Note
"This really isn't football yet. It's just in helmets. We'll call it just a physical game of basketball. It's basically just to get your technique down and things like that. But we've got a long way to go until training camp. We'll get pads on, and I think that's when you really start getting into the nuts and bolts of preparing yourself for the season and the grind for the season. It's good to get out here. We have everybody here, which is pretty cool. So it felt good to have all our bullets in the gun, so to speak." – S Mike Brown on how he felt during the three days of minicamp.
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.