Minicamp Report: Tuesday

The Chicago Bears scheduled a veteran minicamp more than two months earlier than usual, wanting one last glance at the roster before moving on with free agency and getting ready for April's NFL Draft. Bear Report had a front-row seat for all the action Tuesday and made these observations ...

Pick Six
Starting with the quarterbacks, just like we always do, the three-headed monster of Kyle Orton, Caleb Hanie, and newcomer Brett Basanez actually threw the football pretty well during 11-on-11 drills despite a terribly windy day at Halas Hall. Orton completed seven of the nine passes he threw, although most were of the dump-off variety and he came up empty on the two deeper balls he attempted. Hanie was a perfect 6-of-6 through the air, including a pair of play-action bootlegs that looked pretty fluid from a footwork perspective. Basanez was somewhat inaccurate during positional work, but he did hit on all four of his passes against the second-team D – not one of them was more than 10 yards, though. Orton blew off the Jay Cutler trade talk questions after practice, and then he went on to say that he hadn't even spoken with general manager Jerry Angelo since this past season. ...

Free-agent safety acquisition Josh Bullocks introduced himself to Earl Bennett during 11-on-11 action, dropping a padless shoulder into the second-year wide receiver and separating him from the ball on a seam route. Orton delivered what looked to be a beauty of a pass, and Bennett was wide open for a split second, but Bullocks was able to knock it loose to get credit for a pass defensed. You could tell he wasn't quite sure if what he did was acceptable or not, throwing his hands up immediately after contact in an effort to tell everyone in attendance that there was no malicious intent on his part. ...

A lot of Bears fans were happy to hear that Kevin Jones re-signed with the team after a year spent wasted on the bench behind rookie sensation Matt Forte, but he didn't have a very good day and looked awfully rusty out there. He fell on his tail not once but twice during positional drills because he wasn't getting his knees up high enough, although he does look to be a few pounds lighter than he was at this time a year ago since he's supposedly all the way back from the torn knee he suffered in December of 2007. It wasn't hard to tell that Forte is the best back on the team, as he looked smooth as ever both running and receiving all day long. ...

It didn't take long for new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli to make his presence felt, with the former Detroit head coach practically getting in a three-point stance himself when instructing his ends during pass-rush drills. He's a fairly soft-spoken man with a microphone in his face after practice, but he's very intense when out on the field and seems to have found a home again after a miserable experience running the Lions for three seasons. Some guys are just better sargeants than generals, and Marinelli appears to be one of them at first glance – he was very happy to get his hands dirty again. ...

With John Tait enjoying retirement and John St. Clair choosing Cleveland over Chicago, the offensive line was doing a lot of shuffling throughout the workout. Cody Balogh, who was nothing more than a practice squader last year, got the majority of the snaps at right tackle with the first- and second-team offenses. Both Josh Beekman and Dan Buenning saw time at guard and center, especially since incumbent center Olin Kreutz did very little. Free-agent signee Frank Omiyale admitted after practice that he still sees himself as a tackle, although all of his reps Tuesday came at either left or right guard. One lineman that did no moving around at all, however, was Chris Williams. The former first-rounder took every snap at left tackle with the ones and the twos, and then he said afterward that he doesn't want to talk about his back – or Cutler, his former Vanderbilt teammate – anymore. ...

Facing yet another position switch, versatile defensive lineman Israel Idonije will be moving back to end after lining up exclusively at tackle in 2008. This could spell trouble for Mark Anderson, who was sensational as a situational pass rusher as a rookie in '06 but has done a two-year disappearing act ever since. Idonije said after practice that it's much tougher to trim down and play end than it is to bulk up and play tackle, but he looks great and could help out what has been a lackluster pass rush the past two years.


Hester clearly needs some help at the receiver position. (Charles Arbogast/AP Images)

Injury Report
The offense is in good shape health-wise, as every player on the depth chart was able to complete Tuesday's workout without any limitations. On the other hand, the defense is currently operating without several recognizable names at this point: tackle Dusty Dvoracek, linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, corner Trumaine McBride, safety Kevin Payne, and corner Charles Tillman. Nathan Vasher told reporters after practice that the NFL is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately? league and questions about his starting job are fair, so he simply can't afford to get hurt again – he promised Tuesday that he's 100 percent now.

Stud of the Day
Although he's far from a household name, wide receiver Devin Aromashodu looked very good catching the football during 11-on-11 drills. First he reeled in a quick out from Hanie, then a deeper out pattern from Basanez, and he finished his day with another quick out from Hanie. Most every pass catcher let at least one throw hit the ground during positional activities since it was incredibly windy in Lake Forest, but Aromashodu showed flypaper hands all afternoon.

Dud of the Day
The special teams work as a whole was very sloppy, with the wind again wreaking havoc on the pigskin from start to finish. None of the gunners were having any success keeping punts out of the end zone, and both punt returners, Devin Hester and Vasher, were fooled on more than one occasion and came up empty. For the record, corner Corey Graham and safety Zack Bowman were one pair of gunners, while receivers Bennett and Rashied Davis were another.

Quote to Note
"Sometimes, it's just not the numbers. If you're getting off blocks and you're making pressure and factors, it's all those things that generate it. It's a team game in terms of those things. These guys got really good ability. I've seen them from a distance now. I've seen them from afar and now I'll have a chance to see them up close, and I'm very impressed." – Defensive line coach Rod Marinelli on why this unit hasn't gotten more sacks in recent years.


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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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