Training Camp Report: Day 1

The Chicago Bears never seem to be without drama these days. First-rounder Chris Williams signed his deal just a few hours before training camp opened, but Devin Hester is now holding the team hostage. Bear Report had a front-row seat for all the action in Bourbonnais and made these observations ...

Pick Six
It's never a surprise when Devin Hester is the lead story on the field, but rarely is the superhuman return specialist making news off the field. Hester has expressed unhappiness with his contract situation for quite some time now, and even though he took part in minicamp and OTAs during the offseason, he finally played his trump card and was a no-show for the first day of training camp. The decision came as a surprise to general manager Jerry Angelo, who has been working with agent Eugene Parker for quite some time and knows that Hester is worthy of a raise. The two-time All-Pro is scheduled to make $445,000 this season and remains signed through 2009. Angelo better make something happen in a hurry because this offense needs a difference-maker, and every rep No. 23 misses makes his development into a capable wide receiver that much tougher. ...

First-round draft pick Chris Williams agreed to terms on a five-year deal only two hours or so before Wednesday's training camp-opening workout, but that news won't be the lead story in Thursday's newspapers thanks to the Hester dilemma. Williams was asked after practice why it took him so long to sign on the dotted line, but he simply highlighted the fact that he is here on time and won't have any excuse for not making an immediate impact up front. John St. Clair is still running with the starting offense, although it's just a matter of time before Williams gets the nod. ...

Head coach Lovie Smith begged members of the press after practice Wednesday not to ask about the quarterback derby between Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton each and every day, but that doesn't mean we can't report on their daily duel right here at BearReport.com – and, of course, we will. Grossman started off poorly and also ended poorly, missing receivers with erratic passes and looking genuinely confused on more than one occasion. However, he delivered the highlight of the day by connecting with Marty Booker on a fly pattern deep down the right sideline despite pretty good coverage from Corey Graham, and Booker even made the catch one-handed. Orton, as we've come to expect, took fewer long chances, but he did hit a big one down the middle thanks to an acrobatic grab from rookie Earl Bennett. On the downside, Orton did fumble one snap and also misfired on a handful of low-percentage throws. ...

One of the most dazzling draftees on Day 1 was fifth-round tight end Kellen Davis, who made a couple of tough catches downfield in heavy traffic. This offense needs a third tight end that can block in short-yardage and goal-line situations, and Davis is yet to prove he can be that guy. But he's a giant running through the secondary and has great athleticism at 6-6.5 and 262 pounds, so he has a chance to turn into a dangerous red-zone target one of these days. ...

With Charles Tillman excused from Wednesday's practice for personal reasons, Graham worked with the first unit at left cornerback opposite Nathan Vasher. The offense took notice right away, as passes thrown Graham's direction outnumbered those headed in Vasher's vicinity by at least three to one. Graham is clearly ahead of fellow second-year pro Trumaine McBride on the depth chart, even though it was McBride who started nine games as a rookie. ...

The defense didn't make too many big plays as a whole, coming up with just one interception Wednesday when Vasher got the best of Grossman early on in 7-on-7 action. Anthony Adams continues to play well at nose tackle, even though it seems like the organization always has somebody else in mind to start alongside Pro Bowler Tommie Harris. And it's apparently a done deal that Israel Idonije is indeed making a permanent move to the inside, which is a good thing since this team was accepting applications for defensive tackles at team headquarters in Lake Forest toward the end of last season.


CB Corey Graham
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Injury Report
The Midway Monsters made several moves on the injury front Wednesday, putting both Olin Kreutz and Kevin Jones on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and the duo of Dusty Dvoracek and Chester Adams on the non-football injury (NFI) list. Kreutz is dealing with a bad Achilles, while Jones continues to come back from an ACL tear he suffered just this past December. Dvoracek has a calf problem, and Adams' injury has something to do with his stomach – the all-too-easy joke amongst the media was that his stomach is simply too big.

Stud of the Day
Bennett certainly opened some eyes with more than a few circus catches, which was his reputation at Vanderbilt. It didn't take him long to go from high school star to the best receiver in Commodores history, although it remains to be seen if he can grasp the NFL game just as quickly. Nobody has anything locked up at receiver right now, so perhaps Bennett could make even more of a difference than originally thought.

Dud of the Day
Seventh-round wideout Marcus Monk simply looked terrible his first day of rookie minicamp at Halas Hall back in May, and he didn't fare much better his first day of training camp at Olivet Nazarene University. The former Razorback record-breaker dropped a few passes during receiver drills, and he was rarely on the field for 7-on-7 or 11-on-11. Although he did look much better after those first-day jitters in Lake Forest, so hopefully for his sake he can make a similar turnaround during his stint in Bourbonnais.

Quote to Note
"We thought Devin was going to be here. As you know we've been negotiating with Devin for a while, and we are continually negotiating with him, as well. So I really don't know why he isn't here today." – General manager Jerry Angelo on the unexpected holdout from Devin Hester.

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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