Training Camp Report: Day 5

Maybe now the Chicago Bears can finally put all the soap operas to bed and get back to playing football. With Devin Hester signed through 2013, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Bear Report had a front-row seat Sunday for all the action in Bourbonnais and made these observations ...

Pick Six
Rex Grossman was running the first-team offense again Sunday, and he was pretty solid overall by completing 18 of 29 passes from start to finish: 9 of 12 in 7-on-7, and then 9 of 17 during 11-on-11. Grossman was involved in the highlight of the day, hitting Devin Hester – Mr. Miyagi is apparently the newest member of the training staff – on a fly pattern deep down the right sideline despite tight coverage from Charles Tillman. Kyle Orton was better than he'd been the last two practices, hitting on 15 of 23 throws overall: 4 of 8 in 7-on-7 and then 11 of 15 in 11-on-11. Both Grossman and Orton were intercepted once, Grossman by Tillman on a duck of a deep ball that never should have been thrown in the first place, and Orton by Hunter Hillenmeyer on a quick toss over the middle trying to avoid a corner blitz from Ricky Manning Jr. But it was Orton who got the better of Grossman in the two-minute drill and was rewarded with a 35-yard field goal from reserve kicker Zacrey Atterberry, while Grossman wasn't nearly as effective and had to watch helplessly as Atterberry's 54-yard attempt sailed wide left ...

Getting back to Hester, the third-year return man extraordinaire and aspiring wide receiver agreed to a four-year contract extension right around lunchtime Friday, and he celebrated by being taken off the non-football injury (NFI) list and participating in the afternoon workout. Hester is now signed through 2013 with $15 million in guaranteed money, although the new deal could worth as much as $40 million should he reach all the performance-based incentives. If he does indeed develop into a starting-caliber wideout, then he'll be paid accordingly. General manager Jerry Angelo told Hester that he needed to gamble on himself a little bit if he truly wanted to make the big bucks, although No. 23 is set for life any which way you slice it. Hester seemed genuinely relieved when speaking to reporters at the end of the session, and it now looks like we can finally focus on football entirely. ...

Can we please put an end to the Nick Hill era as soon as possible? Yes, a team needs four quarterbacks in training camp these days with all the throwing that's required during positional drills, but Hill has no business being on an NFL roster and can't make the throws necessary of a professional signal-caller. He can't even take the snap from center consistently, putting another one on the ground Sunday. It's hard to remember how many fumbled exchanges he had during OTAs at Halas Hall, so he's not improving. While Caleb Hanie hasn't exactly been sensational himself, you can at least tell that he has a pretty good arm and moves around in the pocket just fine – perhaps can develop into a quality backup one day. ...

9-on-9 has been the most physical period throughout training camp so far, but 11-on-11 in the red zone Sunday certainly offered its fair share of pad popping. Leonard Peters delivered a de-cleating blow to rookie Matt Forte on a running play, and even though the hit was clean, Tillman was disappointed Peters helped Forte back to his feet. "Don't help him up," Tillman shouted. "Throw him down again." ...

There were more than a few battles in the trenches Sunday, especially when the second- and third-stringers were getting their reps. Rookie Kirk Barton had a pretty good grasp of Dan Bazuin's facemask as the second-year defensive end charged after the quarterback, a play which would have resulted an illegal-hands-to-the-face penalty had it occurred in a game. Trumaine McBride broke up a deep throw from Orton to Mike Hass with a firm bump – and an obvious pass-interference call. ...

As far as the daily rookie report goes, Forte continues to be quite impressive and pulled down yet another screen pass with one hand Sunday. Earl Bennett has slowed down considerably after getting off to such a strong start the first few days, but he's still having an excellent camp and is working his way up the depth chart. So is Marcus Harrison, who is starting to get more time with the second-team defensive line and could be rotating in with the starters if Dusty Dvoracek can't get back on the field before long.

CB Charles Tillman
Warren Wimmer Photography

Injury Report
Apart from the return of Hester, the same cast of characters was watching Sunday from the sideline: Chester Adams (stomach), Dvoracek (calf), Kevin Jones (knee), Olin Kreutz (Achilles), and Chris Williams (back). More and more every day, it looks like Kreutz, however, is just fine and simply doesn't want to take part in training camp – and a player of his talent and tenure doesn't really need to anyway. And with each practice that Williams sits out, the likelihood of John St. Clair being the starter at left tackle in Week 1 increases dramatically.

Stud of the Day
It's amazing how much better the secondary is when both Tillman and Nathan Vasher are on the field together at the cornerback position. When Tillman was out the first few days for personal reasons, it was glaringly obvious that the quarterbacks were picking on Corey Graham as much as possible. Sure, Tillman gave up a bomb to Hester, but he came back with an interception later and got his hands on several passes. Vasher almost picked a deep crossing pattern intended for Marty Booker and then broke up a hook to Mark Bradley on the very next snap.

Dud of the Day
The tight ends weren't particularly sharp as a unit Sunday, even though starter Desmond Clark has been just fine for the most part. Greg Olsen dropped a pair of passes during positional drills, but he redeemed himself by making a nice sliding catch in the end zone on a slant from Grossman. Fontel Mines also let one or two balls hit the ground, and Kellen Davis wasn't getting open routinely like he had been the first few practices.

Quote to Note
"I told Jerry this is a tough situation for me. Every day I'm out here, it's killing me not to be out here [practicing]. And I said it's so important to be out here because I know I'm losing a lot knowing that I'm not out here, and all the mental reps and all the reps I can be getting or missing. So we can figure out a way to just come up with this deal, get it going, and let's play ball." – WR Devin Hester on what it took to finally come to terms on his contract extension.

John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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