Just like always, we'll get right to the performances of the quarterbacks. At times, Pro Bowl acquisition Jay Cutler looks like he's already mastered offensive coordinator Ron Turner's scheme, but then other times he seems a bit confused where he should go with the football if his first or second read doesn't immediately break into the clear. He had a particularly rough patch Wednesday, when he was only 2-of-6 during one stretch of 7-on-7 drills and threw the ball away on more than one occasion. But he was much sharper during full-squad 11-on-11, putting up a 12-of-14 performance and delivering some impressive throws on the move outside of the pocket. Backup Caleb Hanie was 5-of-8 in 7-on-7 and 8-of-10 in 11-on-11, while third-stringer Brett Basanez was 3-of-4 and 4-of-5, respectively. ...
The brand new Monster of the Midway, newly-signed linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, is expected to win the job on the strong side next to Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, but he didn't get any reps with the first-team defense Wednesday. While the former Ram is familiar with this version of the Cover 2 having played under Lovie Smith his rookie year in St. Louis, he appreciates the fact that he'll have to win the job and isn't being handed anything. Nick Roach is still listed as the starter, and even Tinoisamoa believes it should be that way. Usually that position requires a bigger and stronger player since he must hold the point of attack against the run and also defend tight ends against the pass. But Tinoisamoa is about the same size as Roach these days, telling the media his weight is down to around 225 pounds. ...
After being held out of drills the last time the media had access to OTAs two weeks ago, veteran tight end Desmond Clark was back on the practice field Wednesday. Expect fellow tight end Greg Olsen to be a big part of the offense again this season, maybe even more so because Cutler looks his way quite often, but Clark remains the starter and can still catch the ball quite well. During positional drills, he was running a corner route toward the right sideline and made a terrific one-handed grab on a pass that was slightly overthrown by Basanez. There were a lot of two-tight end formations during Wednesday's practice, in both 7-on-7 and 11-on-11. On top of that, Clark and Olsen were each splitting out wide from time to time. ...
The defensive backfield did some shuffling Wednesday, although second-year corner Zack Bowman was still getting most of the reps with the first-team defense opposite Nathan Vasher. Charles Tillman isn't quite ready to go at full speed after offseason shoulder surgery, and while Trumaine McBride was back in the mix, he saw all of his action with the second unit. Rookie D.J. Moore hasn't done much to win over new defensive backs coach Jon Hoke, and Hoke jumped all over Moore at one point when the fourth-round draft pick dropped what should have been a gift interception from Hanie while covering Devin Aromashodu. At strong safety, it was Josh Bullocks, not incumbent Kevin Payne, running with the ones at the beginning of practice, although Payne was back alongside Craig Steltz later in the day. The DBs came up with two picks, the first from Bowman on a throw from Basanez and the second from safety Glenn Earl on another ball from Basanez, although it was tipped up into the air by fullback and intended receiver William Taufoou. ...
General manager Jerry Angelo has always been impressed with free-agent addition Frank Omiyale and pursued him on more than one occasion, and his belief that the career tackle would be a good candidate to slide inside and play guard appears to have been correct. Omiyale got all of the first-team reps at left guard, while Josh Beekman, last year's starter, saw all his action with the first and second team at center. Assuming Omiyale holds down the job and keeps Beekman at bay throughout training camp, that means the Bears will feature three new starters along the offensive line in 2009. And it would be easy to argue that all three are upgrades, with Orlando Pace at left tackle instead of John St. Clair, Chris Williams at right tackle instead of John Tait, and then Omiyale at left guard instead of Beekman. Olin Kreutz and Roberto Garza remain at center and right guard, respectively. ...
There may be a few more wrinkles on offense this season, in part because Cutler is much more mobile than Rex Grossman, Brian Griese, and Kyle Orton ever were. Cutler is running some bootlegs and waggles from time to time, and he's not afraid to throw back across his body if a receiver breaks open in the middle of the field. He hit Olsen on at least two such occasions Wednesday. But some of the trick plays need to be polished, including a reverse to Devin Hester after he goes in motion from the left side of the formation. Following a toss sweep, Hester and Kevin Jones put the ball on the ground because of a botched exchange and watched helplessly as Steltz scooped and scored to the delight of the entire defensive unit.
New safeties Josh Bullocks and Glenn Earl share a breather during Wednesday's workout.
Nam Y. Huh/AP Images
Along with Tillman, Hunter Hillenmeyer is still not able to participate at full speed as he recovers from offseason surgery. Clark and McBride, both of whom sat out two weeks ago, were back on the field from start to finish. Once again, Tommie Harris didn't do much and watched from the sideline as Israel Idonije and Anthony Adams got most of the first-team reps at defensive tackle during 11-on-11 – Dusty Dvoracek was in the rotation, too. But the news of the day could be star on the rise Matt Forte, as the running back was seen limping off the field with assistant athletic trainer Chris Hanks toward the end of practice. He was on his way to the training room with what looked to be a left knee issue, although head coach Lovie Smith didn't take questions after the workout to clarify Forte's situation.
Stud of the Day
The coaching staff is going out of its way to get Corey Graham on the field by moving him to free safety, which has allowed Bowman to see more opportunities and show what he can do at cornerback. With Tillman still an observer for the most part, Bowman is holding his own opposite Vasher and came up with another interception Wednesday. The media has only had access to two of the five OTA sessions thus far, but apparently Bowman has three INTs and looks like he belongs with the starters.
Duds of the Day
While Jones looks much healthier than he did a year ago when he was trying to make a miraculous short-term comeback from a torn ACL, fellow backups Adrian Peterson and Garrett Wolfe don't look much like legitimate NFL running backs these days. Peterson, a seven-year veteran, accomplished special teamer, and Soldier Field favorite, gets most of his reps with the third-team offense and doesn't show a lot of wiggle. And while Wolfe showcases his trademark quickness and catches the ball out of the backfield very well, he looks like the same back he's been the last two seasons when he didn't warrant any playing time.
Quote to Note
"Just the chance to be on a winning team is worth it to me. I've been fortunate to get paid in this league, and that was good, but I still had to go home a loser. I'd give all the money back if I could win again." – LB Pisa Tinoisamoa on coming to the Bears on a one-year deal and maybe leaving some money on the table.
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.