Training Camp Report: Day 19

While neither Rex Grossman nor Kyle Orton shows that he deserves to be the starter at quarterback, Alex Brown is making the coaching staff look really bad for benching him this past season. Bear Report had a front-row seat Sunday for all the action in Bourbonnais and made these observations ...

Pick Six
The defense is usually ahead of the offense early on in training camp, which means the offense has a tendency to improve after a week or two as the key components start to develop more of a rhythm with the playbook. However, the exact opposite seems to be happening in Bourbonnais, as both Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton appear to be getting worse instead of better. Orton was average at best Sunday directing the offense and completed 20 of 31 passes, although he had a shallow hook to Brandon Lloyd intercepted by Charles Tillman and then an ill-advised toss picked off by Jamar Williams following a deflection at the line of scrimmage – he even turned the ball over on downs after going just 1 of 5 during the two-minute drill. Grossman was equally uninspiring by hitting on only 14 of 22 throws, plus Alex Brown intercepted him on a blown-up screen for the second consecutive practice. On the other hand, Grossman did post a perfect 3 of 3 in the two-minute drill and was rewarded with a 41-yard field goal by Zacrey Atterberry to close the day's workout. ...

Sunday was generally a sloppy practice overall, as passes were slipping right through players' fingers way too often during positional drills. The kickoff return team looked particularly dreadful from start to finish even when the incomparable Devin Hester was back there fielding the ball, allowing a certain nasty term that rhymes with "blusterduck" to creep into this beat writer's head on more than one occasion. Chester Adams being whistled for a false start during 9-on-9 work, an unforced fumble by Adrian Peterson in 11-on-11 action, back-to-back dropped balls by veteran Marty Booker in the two-minute drill – it was just a mess out there more often than not. ...

Garrett Wolfe has been getting more and more reps with the second team after his impressive performance Thursday night in the exhibition opener, which means he could potentially elevate over the versatile Peterson on the depth chart by the time the regular season arrives. Wolfe still has a tough time finding some wiggle room between the tackles, but it certainly isn't for a lack of effort because he never stops his legs when buried in a crowd of defenders. While Kevin Jones took part in practice for the second straight day after being taken off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, he looks quite rusty out there and is still a few days away from getting significant time in the backfield. ...

Even though the signal-callers have been struggling to put drives together, the tight ends continue to shine and are quite obviously the strongest part of this offense right now. While starter Desmond Clark is still getting it done when called upon, second-year pro Greg Olsen is borderline uncoverable at times and really presents matchup problems for most any secondary. Fontel Mines did drop a slant from the improving Caleb Hanie when running with the third team, but rookie Kellen Davis made another big play with a completion from Grossman deep down the seam. ...

While Brown is happy as can be back in the starting lineup and allowing those good vibrations to translate into big plays defensively, Mark Anderson has been a ghost out there with the second team. He's had occasional flashes because of that high-octane motor that carried him to a runner-up finish for Defensive Rookie of the Year as a fifth-round draft pick two seasons ago, but he's not getting to the passer consistently and jumps offside almost daily. If Anderson is having trouble getting past the likes of undrafted free agent Cody Balogh, don't expect much from him facing Bryant McKinnie on third down. ...

It's possible some of the draft choices have hit the proverbial training camp wall, probably because none of them has ever spent this much time on football – both on and off the field. Earl Bennett isn't catching near the amount of passes he was a week or so ago, and Craig Steltz hasn't gotten his hands on a ball in the secondary for a few practices now. Marcus Monk might be letting that big drop in Thursday's preseason game get to him since his fingers are still a tad slippery out there, while Marcus Harrison can't seem to get near the penetration that Matt Toeaina does in the trenches.


RB Garrett Wolfe
Rex Arbogast/AP Images

Injury Report
Nothing new to report on the injury front, as neither Jones nor Dusty Dvoracek did much Sunday and continue to work their way back quite slowly. Hunter Hillenmeyer (hip flexor), Terrence Metcalf (knee), Michael Okwo (quad), Kevin Payne (knee), and Chris Williams (back) were absent from the proceedings, and Tommie Harris did very little as a precautionary measure since he's been hurt so much the last two years. Tillman and Nathan Vasher were both back after being excused Saturday for personal reasons.

Stud of the Day
Brown had an excellent practice, intercepting one pass and then deflecting another that ended up in the hands of Williams for another pick. While Brown has proven to just about everyone on hand that he did not deserve to be demoted like he was in 2007, Anderson has many wondering how he earned the starting role in the first place. The fun-loving Brown cares much more about being an all-around defensive end than a sack specialist, making him a perfect role player on a defense stacked with stars.

Dud of the Day
Just as it's hard to believe that Anderson started over Brown most of last year, it's equally perplexing how Trumaine McBride got the call ahead of Ricky Manning Jr. after Vasher went down with that nasty groin injury. Not only is McBride way behind fellow 2007 draftee Corey Graham in terms of his development at cornerback, but even fifth-rounder Zack Bowman has made many more plays defending passes. McBride has given up a ton of catches since the moment he arrived in Bourbonnais a few weeks ago, and he was picked on repeatedly Sunday.

Quote to Note
"Last year was last year. I love playing football, and I don't want to be on the bench. One day I'm going to get too old to play, and then I'll know that. But as of right now, I don't believe that time is now. So hopefully I still have a lot more football in me, and I can continue to come out here and help this team win." – DE Alex Brown on being back in the starting lineup this season after being benched this past season.

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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