Training Camp Report: Day 8

At what point do you stop giving the offense for the Chicago Bears credit and start wondering why the defense isn't making more plays? All of a sudden, the passing game looks terrific. Bear Report had a front-row seat Wednesday for all the action in Bourbonnais and made these observations ...

Pick Six
Believe it or not, both Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton were very sharp throwing the football and moved the offense consistently all night long. Orton ran the first team and completed 24 of 31 passes from start to finish, highlighted by a skinny post to Rashied Davis deep down the middle that would have gone for a touchdown behind Brandon McGowan. Grossman was just as productive and hit on 21 of 24 throws, including a gorgeous floater over the head of Rod Wilson to Devin Hester on a crossing pattern that had the eager crowd gathered at Ward Field going bananas. In the two-minute drill to close out practice, both Orton and Grossman were 3 of 3 and moved their offensive mates right down the field. Each drive ended in a 48-yard field goal by Robbie Gould, who was clearing the uprights by a wide margin thanks in part to a generous tailwind. ...

As I've written on many occasions, it looks like Danieal Manning is more athlete than football player and may never develop into a competent defensive back – no matter which position he plays. It always seems like he's a step or two behind the receiver and gives up a lot of receptions as a result, even though he is almost always the best athlete on the field and can run with any player in the league. The Bears see the amazing physical ability he brings to the table and would love for him to take over as the nickelback this season, but he's yet to make any sort of impact during training camp and could be exposed by a player like Anthony Gonzalez in the slot come Week 1. ...

It wasn't a full-scale brawl by any stretch of the imagination, but Fontel Mines didn't take too kindly to a shot he took from Josh Gattis after hauling in a hook from Grossman and started a small scuffle. Mines shoved Gattis upon returning to his feet, which prompted Jamar Williams to stick his nose in there and make his presence felt. That just happened to be the last rep of the period for the second-teamers, so cooler heads prevailed as the starting units trotted back onto the field – the fans certainly loved it and were encouraging more, but it didn't happen. ...

The Chicago media was amazed during veteran minicamp and OTAs at Halas Hall because Mike Brown, just a few months removed from a serious ACL tear, was flying all over the field and making plays left and right. That hasn't necessarily been the case thus far in training camp, as the emotional leader of the defense is yet to come up with an interception through eight days of practice. Brown actually dropped a potential pick of Orton that hit him right in the hands Wednesday, causing him to shout in frustration and then penalize himself with ten push-ups right there in the hashmark area. ...

Now that Nick Hill is out of the picture, Caleb Hanie looks all the more comfortable under center and is starting to make some awfully nice throws in Bourbonnais. Especially considering the fact that he gets so few reps compared to Grossman and Orton, so he's making the most of his opportunity so far and might have general manager Jerry Angelo thinking twice about making a run at a veteran like Chris Simms assuming he gets released by the Buccaneers. Hanie's best pass Wednesday was a bullet down the seam to rookie Kellen Davis between two defenders that would have gone for about a 20-yard gain. ...

On to the daily rookie watch, where Earl Bennett just keeps making a bunch of catches no matter if it's 7-on-7 or 11-on-11, red zone or goal line, two-minute drill or whatever. Zack Bowman batted down a few balls again Wednesday, and it's now safe to say that he may already be better than second-year pro Trumaine McBride. Craig Steltz is also improving daily, and he looks nothing like Adam Archuleta Version 2.0 in coverage – don't worry about that, Bears fans.


QB Caleb Hanie
Warren Wimmer Photography

Injury Report
There was a really long list of players who did not participate in Wednesday's practice: Chester Adams (stomach), Dan Bazuin (knee), Mark Bradley (knee), Dusty Dvoracek (calf), Kevin Jones (knee), Jason McKie (hamstring), Kevin Payne (hamstring), Chris Williams (back), and Garrett Wolfe (hamstring). Charles Tillman is still excused for personal reasons. Tommie Harris received a veteran's day off, but that didn't stop him from signing a ton of autographs as he always does.

Stud of the Day
With Bradley out of the lineup and Brandon Lloyd getting sidelined midway through Wednesday's practice with an apparently minor calf problem, Brandon Rideau got a lot of reps with the starting offense and did not disappoint. A great target in the passing game at 6-3 and 200 pounds, Rideau caught several balls from both Orton and Grossman, including a gorgeous flag route from Orton during the two-minute drill that helped set up a field goal. Since the receiver derby is so wide open right now, he might have a chance to make the 53-man roster if he keeps this up throughout training camp.

Dud of the Day
It appears that the legend of Mike Hass has been greatly exaggerated. The former Oregon State Beaver was the prince of ONU last year with a stunning display of sticky-soft hands throughout training camp, but this year he's put some balls on the ground and doesn't look like he has any chance to make the final cut. While he still authors his share of oh-my-god catches, he's not showing enough to warrant much of a look from the coaching staff.

Quote to Note
"It's not [my place] to say. I don't know. I hope I would have made the team. I was working to make the team, but that was ultimately for the coaches to decide." – WR Brandon Rideau on whether or not he would have made the roster last year had he not gotten hurt late in the preseason.

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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