Even though minicamp is in the rearview mirror for the Chicago Bears, there is still a lot of work to be done. Organized team activities (OTAs) continued Wednesday, and there were highlights aplenty. Bear Report had a front-row seat for all the action at Halas Hall and made these observations ...
Pick SixWednesday's is Rex Grossman's day to lead the starting offense, and he starts off hot in 11-on-11 drills. He hits on 8 of his 12 passes, including three completions to Devin Hester when being defended out wide by Charles Tillman twice and in the slot by Danieal Manning once. And they're not just fly patterns either, as Hester seems to be getting better with his route running – he was, however, tentative with his footing earlier during positional drills because the grass was a little wet.
Kyle Orton, on the other hand, wasn't quite as sharp in the early going Wednesday and looked to be somewhat indecisive with the football. He did complete 6 of his 10 attempts during 11-on-11, although he missed both Hester and Mike Hass on deep routes down the sideline because of poor timing. Orton did connect on his final four passes of the period, but only one of them – a deep-out pattern to Brandon Rideau being defended by Trumaine McBride – was truly impressive.
Free-agent addition Brandon Lloyd continues to put on an impressive display, as he has been arguably the best receiver on the field just about every day. He's not a burner by any stretch of the imagination, but he's shown very soft hands so far and tremendous body control when he needs to adjust to the ball in flight. And Lloyd even completed an option pass in Wednesday's workout after an end-around handoff from Grossman, finding Hester downfield on a corner route for what would have gone for a gain of about 35 or 40 yards.
With the receiver derby pretty much wide open at this point, Rashied Davis has also done well for himself and could be a bigger part of the offense than he was last year. Davis admitted after the session that he started his personal workout program a month or so sooner than he normally does, and there's absolutely no question he looks stronger through his upper body and quicker when making cuts in space. On one particular play Wednesday, he torched Brandon McGowan with a stop-and-go move from the slot for an easy big-gainer from Grossman.
Mike Brown only took part in about half the snaps with the starting defense Wednesday, as the oft-injured safety continues his comeback from yet another leg problem – this time a torn ACL. Craig Steltz got a lot of action with the first team in Brown's place, and the long-haired rookie continues to see time at both free and strong safety during the offseason program. A lot of Bears backers are unfairly calling Sleltz just another Adam Archuleta, but the fourth-rounder looks to have pretty good instincts and was always around the ball in Baton Rouge.
Another one of the defensive rookies keeps playing well, as cornerback Zack Bowman came up with the only interception of the day. Orton delivered a pass to Hass that was just too high and got deflected into the air, so Bowman took it away from Hass and sprinted down the sideline to paydirt. If he keeps this up during training camp, it's almost certain that Ricky Manning Jr. will not make this team unless there's an injury to the likes of Tillman or Nathan Vasher during the preseason.
WR Brandon Lloyd
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Mark Bradley continues to hop around gingerly in a knee brace, so he won't be ready to get back to work for quite some time. Brian Urlacher and Desmond Clark were both absent from Wednesday's practice, although only one of them was excused. Clark was attending to a personal matter, while Urlacher has plans to skip the rest of the voluntary workouts because he's unhappy with his contract situation – you know, the same contract that made him the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL when he originally signed it back in 2003.
Stud of the Day
After a less-than-spectacular minicamp performance this past weekend, Grossman looked much better throwing the football Wednesday. His body language just looks more positive on the days he's taking his reps with the first-team offense. Orton was a little sharper in red-zone drills toward the end of the day, but Grossman was by far the best quarterback on the field in both 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 play earlier.
Dud of the Day
The defense is apparently trying to replace Ricky Manning Jr. with Danieal Manning at nickel corner, and the transition has been up and down so far. There is no question Danieal Manning is a better all-around athlete than Ricky Manning Jr. will ever be, so he is capable of providing the combination of physical run support and corner-like coverage ability necessary to play the position, but he looks a step behind more often than not thus far. Passes are being completed on him time after time, as all he can do is clap his hands in frustration and shout PG-rated curse words at the top of his lungs after each failure.
Quote to Note
"I've always been a hard worker and always determined to come out and make as many plays as I can, but this year is my fourth in the NFL. Shoot, this is eight years professional for me. Golly, I'm getting old. This year, like I said earlier, we lost two key players on the offensive side and, for myself, I felt the need that I needed to come up and play as hard as I can and try to get as much better as I could to try to help the team a lot more. I'm the one that's coming back with the most experience in the offense, so I really have been focusing on that." – WR Rashied Davis on trying to replace Bernard Berrian and Muhsin Muhammad.
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.