OTA Report: Wednesday

It was a laid-back day of OTAs Wednesday for the Chicago Bears, as several players switched jersey numbers and were enjoying themselves more than usual. But are they fully prepared for Bourbonnais? Bear Report had a front-row seat at Halas Hall for all the action and made these observations ...

Pick Six
In what has become a tradition during head coach Lovie Smith's regime in the Windy City, several players have switched jersey numbers for the final day of the offseason training program. Rex Grossman is wearing Devin Hester's No. 23, just as Hester is sporting Grossman's No. 8. Among the other switchees Wednesday: Lance Briggs and Greg Olsen, Mark Anderson and Brad Maynard, Mike Brown and Olin Kreutz, Anthony Adams and Garrett Wolfe, and Hunter Hillenmeyer and John Tait. On one play, Grossman actually pulled down the ball and ran around right end for a keeper during 11-on-11, causing the always audible Alex Brown to shout, "Get Hester! Get Hester!" ...

If you had to pick a winner in the quarterback derby throughout minicamp and OTAs, Grossman would most likely eek out a narrow victory over Kyle Orton. Neither was especially sharp by any stretch of the imagination, but Grossman didn't turn the ball over as much and completed more throws down the field than Orton. Caleb Hanie is clearly the choice at No. 3 after a miserable performance from Nick Hill, although Hill did garner some oohs and aahs Wednesday for scoring from 10 yards out on a draw during red-zone practice. ...

During the special teams drills, Robbie Gould and Shane Longest had a competition booting field goals that got awfully colorful for a while. The non-participating players on the sideline were hooting and hollering to no end trying to get each kicker to flinch, going so far as to squeeze bottles of water at them once they started their approach toward the ball. Gould in particular has been strangely inaccurate during OTAs from time to time, although I suppose he can partially blame his inconsistency on Adams for screaming "Laces out!" right before the snap every time. ...

Updating the situation at left guard, it appears Terrence Metcalf is still atop the depth chart and will stay there heading into training camp. Josh Beekman has gotten most every snap at center so far backing up Kreutz, and John St. Clair continues to get the starting nod at left tackle and hasn't taken a single rep at either guard spot. Metcalf was whistled for a false start in 11-on-11 Wednesday by strength and conditioning coach Rusty Jones, which is not a good sign thus far. ...

OT Chris Williams
Warren Wimmer Photo

Without question, Brandon Lloyd was the best wideout on the team from the first day of the offseason program through the last. He made some very tough grabs, ran crisp routes, and offered advice to rookie Earl Bennett whenever asked. Lloyd also threw another pass on an end-around Wednesday, although the deep-out throw to Marty Booker was incomplete as he was covered well by Zack Bowman and Craig Steltz. ...

The most interesting play of the day on the offensive side of the ball involved the speedy Hester lining up at quarterback. Hester, who did play some QB in high school, took a shotgun snap from Kreutz, faked an inside handoff to Matt Forte, and then sprinted around right end on a keeper. The media couldn't help but ask offensive coordinator Ron Turner about the play after Wednesday's practice, but he warned everyone not to read too much into it because Hester won't be taking any snaps from center during the regular season.

Injury Report
Mark Bradley did not participate for any of the OTAs, although he eventually took off his knee brace and could be healthy enough for the start of training camp so long as he doesn't roll an ankle going out to get his mail any time soon. Trumaine McBride has been shelved the last few sessions with a minor leg injury, and Adrian Peterson was absent Wednesday as he recovers from having his appendix removed.

Stud of the Day
The Bears may have a good one in rookie Chris Williams, who they took 14th overall in the NFL Draft. He's still running with the second-team offense at left tackle, but he's handled every pass rusher thrown at him so far and has been putting in extra work after practice each and every day. It should be a matter of time before he takes over for St. Clair as the starter on the left side, and he could very well be there for the next decade protecting 25 or 30 different signal-callers – the shadow cast by the legend of Sid Luckman, however, grows longer by the day.

Dud of the Day
You have to give Brown a lot of credit, especially since it would have been so easy to mail it in after losing his starting job last season to Anderson. Brown has apparently reclaimed his spot atop the totem pole at right defensive end, while Anderson clearly has taken a step back and isn't playing with the confidence we saw him gain midway through his rookie season. Even with Adewale Ogunleye missing some of the OTAs and Anderson filling in for him with the starters over on the left side, he did nothing to distinguish himself.

Quote to Note
"We've been in this situation before, so it's not new to us. We've been in last place and we've climbed that mountain, so that's the message going in. We had our exit meeting today with the team. They know what's at stake. And again, we like this position. It's always good to be the underdog. Right now most people are counting us out, and we like that position." – head coach Lovie Smith on preparing his team for training camp after a disappointing year as opposed to coming off an appearance in the Super Bowl.

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.

Bear Report Top Stories