Training Camp Report: Day 20

Rex Grossman is supposed to be the Chicago Bears quarterback who makes too many mistakes, but it was Kyle Orton getting picked again and continuing to commit more giveaways in camp. Bear Report had a front-row seat Monday for all the action in Bourbonnais and made these observations ...

Pick Six
The frustrating thing about this quarterback competition between Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton isn't that neither may be worthy of winning the job, but it's the fact that nobody can maintain any momentum for any significant period of time. Both Grossman and Orton have enjoyed flashes of brilliance and spells of futility – sometimes in the same day. Grossman definitely had the better performance Monday, hitting on 22 of 27 passes and posting three separate 4-of-4 periods during 11-on-11 action. Orton, conversely, only completed 17 of 27 attempts on the day, and he was especially inaccurate in 7-in-7 with a 4-of-8 total. Grossman hit rookie Kellen Davis, who may or may not have stayed in bounds, in the back-right corner of the end zone and also connected on a fly pattern to Brandon Lloyd for another score, while Orton should have been intercepted by Trumaine McBride on a poorly thrown deep ball to Brandon Rideau and was later picked off by rookie Joey LaRocque on a crossing route to Fontel Mines. ...

A lot of experts are talking about the Bears possibly keeping four tailbacks on the active roster instead of the usual three, but very few of them are talking about where head coach Lovie Smith will find the extra roster spot. Rookie Matt Forte is the featured runner, Kevin Jones is a smart free agent addition, Adrian Peterson is versatile both offensively and on special teams, and Garrett Wolfe may have been the most impressive of the bunch in Thursday's preseason opener. But holding on to all four of them might mean five receivers instead of six, or one fullback instead of two, or six linebackers instead of seven. That's why I ultimately feel Jones will open the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. At the very least, it buys Smith an extra six weeks to make up his mind. ...

More and more receivers are dropping passes with more and more regularity, during positional drills and also offense-vs.-defense action. Rookie Earl Bennett, Mark Bradley, Devin Hester, and ever Mr. Glue Hands himself, Mike Hass, were all guilty Monday, and Hass in particular can least afford to make any mistakes at this point since his days already appear to be numbered because of all the names above him on the depth chart. Not only did Hester drop a pass that hit him right in the bread basket, but he even let a punt slip through this newly-rich fingers to the disappointment of every fan in the audience. ...

One wideout, however, that is once again turning some heads in Bourbonnais is Rideau, who looks like he could be a player in this league but probably gets cut again unless there is an injury or two at the position during the preseason. Rideau delivered arguably the best play of the day during 11-on-11, shaking Corey Graham out of his jock with an out-and-up move down the right sideline and still managed to reel in the reception even though Orton severely underthrew it. On the very next snap, Rideau caught a simple out pattern from Orton with ease since Graham was on his heels and worried about getting torched on another double move. ...

Although the defense as a whole struggled with injuries last year and did not play up to expectations, Adewale Ogunleye had perhaps his best performance yet in Chicago at the left defensive end position. Expect more of the same in 2008, as Ogunleye has been very active against the run throughout training camp and seems to be giving new right offensive tackle John Tait all he can handle in pass protection. On one particular rep Monday, Ogunleye got Tait off balance with a stutter step and tossed the 312-pounder to the ground with a vicious right-handed slap and forced an incompletion from Grossman. ...

Two rookies to watch in Saturday's preseason game at Seattle are Chester Adams and Kirk Barton, both of whom have a chance to develop into pretty good players despite being drafted in the seventh round this past April. The starting offensive line in Monday's workout included Anthony Oakley at center, Josh Beekman at left guard, and John St. Clair at left tackle – all three were benchwarmers most of this past season. Adams in particular drew rave reviews against the Chiefs from Bears radio analyst and former O-lineman Tom Thayer, while Barton is a favorite of Scout.com NFL Draft Analyst Chris Steuber. Both Adams and Barton have a good chance of making the 53-man roster when it's all said and done. Neither looked like more than a practice-squad candidate on selection weekend.


WR Brandon Rideau
Warren Wimmer Photography

Injury Report
There were a few injuries worth noting Monday, as Brandon McGowan left with a twisted ankle and Jamar Williams couldn't go because of a tweaked hamstring. Consequently, Kevin Payne was getting first-team reps opposite Mike Brown at strong safety, and Rod Wilson was the starting linebacker on the weak side because Lance Briggs – along with Desmond Clark and Olin Kreutz – was taking a veteran's day off. It remains to be seen now long both McGowan and Williams will be sidelined, although neither injury appeared to be serious. Additionally, Terrence Metcalf (knee) and Chris Williams (back) continue to be held out. Payne, Hunter Hillenmeyer, and Michael Okwo returned to action after missing a few practices.

Stud of the Day
You could make a pretty strong case for Rideau being the best receiver on the field Monday. He's an easy target for QBs to find at a rangy 6-3 and 200 pounds, and he's athletic enough to go up and get the ball at its highest point over shorter defensive backs. He tried to go to the well one two many times on that out-and-up route and got stoned by McBride, but Rideau has enjoyed another solid training camp and deserves to be on an NFL roster – it just won't be here, in all likelihood.

Dud of the Day
Blasphemous as it may sound, Hester didn't do much Monday and really only got noticed when he made a mistake. Mishandling a punt is never excusable during practice, especially since the record-setting return man has battled the dropsies every now and then each of the past two seasons. He did make a few grabs from both Grossman and Orton on short hooks and shallow crossing patterns, but the home-run ball was nowhere to be found from No. 23.

Quote to Note
"We've got 53 guys. When you get right down to the amount of players you really have to have, if you have a good player at any position you have space to keep him. So if we feel like the four running backs are one of our top 53, we'll make a spot for him." – Head coach Lovie Smith on the possibility of keeping four tailbacks and, if so, where he'll find the extra roster spot.

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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