OTA Report: Monday

It may not have seemed like it, but there was more happening Monday with the Chicago Bears than the release of Cedric Benson. Although there was an ominous feeling throughout the entire practice, to say the least. Bear Report had a front-row seat for all the action and made these observations ...

Pick Six
The story of the day, of course, is the enigmatic Cedric Benson, who was released after Monday's workout because of a second alcohol-related arrest in the span of five weeks. Benson apparently showed up to Halas Hall in the morning, but head coach Lovie Smith instructed him to go home as the team made up its mind as to what to do with the incumbent at running back. Smith specifically instructed his players not to talk about the Benson situation with the media, and both he and general manager Jerry Angelo left the practice field with zipped lips and angry facial expressions. ...

With Benson out of the equation once and for all, it was Adrian Peterson who got the majority of the reps with the first-string offense Monday. Much like John St. Clair is still holding down the fort at left tackle until first-round pick Chris Williams is ready to permanently take over, Peterson is most likely just keeping the seat warm before second-rounder Matt Forte eventually emerges as the primary back. Especially since Peterson enjoyed the majority of his success last season subbing in for Benson on passing downs, and this also opens the door for the speedy Garrett Wolfe to carve out a role for himself. ...

Because of all the drama surrounding the tailback position Monday, quarterbacks Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton continued their battle for the starting job in relative anonymity. Grossman's best delivery of the day came on a deep pattern down the seam to Forte, who got behind Michael Okwo in coverage and made the catch with relative ease – it was the kind of route that Benson simply wasn't capable of running, by the way. Orton was again checking down to his secondary reads more often than not and somewhat reluctant to air it out down the field, and Corey Graham picked off one of the few deep balls he tried on an underthrown fly pattern to Greg Olsen down the right sideline. ...

For the first time during the offseason training program, Mike Brown was getting some action Monday at the strong safety position instead of his usual spot at free safety. Kevin Payne got a lot of reps at free safety alongside Brown, as the coaching staff has been making a concerned effort to play all the safeties on the roster at both just to make everyone a little more well-rounded. Brown was originally moved from strong to free before last season because the team thought he might be able to avoid another injury that way, although he still went down in Week 1 at San Diego with that freak ACL tear. ...


S Mike Brown
Warren Wimmer Photo

Making his primary appearance in a Bears uniform Monday was undrafted free agent defensive end Gerard Lee, who just got to Chicago after finishing up his degree at Oregon State. He quickly learned that his new teammates on the D-line are a mouthy bunch, as they harassed Lee to no end after he stumbled badly during the first few minutes of positional drills. "It's his first day," Alex Brown announced to anyone who would listen, as Lee just buried his chin into his chest and trotted to the back of the line. ...

The play of the day defensively was delivered by Nick Roach, who probably won't see much time at linebacker this season but is in line to make a big impact on special teams. Orton fired a bullet of a pass to Earl Bennett on a hook to the left side, but the rookie wasn't quite ready for the ball and accidentally batted it straight into the air. Roach ended up with the gift interception and took it all the way down the sideline to the house behind a convoy of hooting-and-hollering blockers. ...

Injury Report
Mark Bradley could be a little closer to getting back on the practice field since he's no longer wearing his bulky knee brace, although he's still not a lock to be ready by the start of training camp. Trumaine McBride was the only other player at Halas Hall on Monday who did not participate in drills, as the second-year cornerback showcased a slight limp while watching from the sideline. In addition to Benson, Brian Urlacher, Hunter Hillenmeyer, Israel Idonije, and Patrick Mannelly were absent.

Stud of the Day
Brandon Lloyd continues to be the best receiver on the field by far, which is either a testament to his natural ability or an indictment of the other wideouts on the roster. Both Grossman and Orton appear to be getting more comfortable with him in the offense, as they are looking for him more and more once the initial read on a pass play isn't there. Lloyd could be on his way to resurrecting his once-promising career, or he could simply be teasing yet another team since he has a reputation for not showing up on game day – feel free to ask the 49ers and Redskins.

Dud of the Day
Not only is Benson the Dud of the Day, but he could very well be the biggest dud in the storied history of this franchise. After being taken No. 4 overall in the 2005 NFL Draft, the former Texas Longhorn has been nothing but a disappointment on the field in addition to a recent nuisance off the field. Setting him free was absolutely the right thing to do even if the offense as a whole is short on talent, plus the running game can't possibly be any worse without him.

Quote to Note
"I want everybody to come in and learn all the plays the same. Nobody wants to sit on the bench and learn the plays. Everybody wants to come in and learn everything and every part of the system so they can come out and, if injuries happen, so they can come in." – RB Matt Forte on the prospects of having to replace Cedric Benson in the starting lineup as a rookie.

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.


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