It's a good sign that Danieal Manning's hamstring injury wasn't more serious, as the fourth-year pro is going to be featured prominently at free safety, nickel back and kick returner in 2009. He was back on the practice field Saturday and appeared to be 100 percent once again, flip-flopping back and forth between safety and nickel depending on the alignment the offense puts on the field – Craig Steltz took over at free safety when the O went with three- or four-wide sets. At linebacker, Nick Roach got the majority of the first-team reps at strong-side linebacker after giving way to newcomer Pisa Tinoisamoa most of Friday. ...
Apparently, the coaching staff realizes they put way too much pressure on Matt Forte as a rookie and possibly contributed to the fact that he had injury concerns down the stretch his first season. He hasn't gotten too many reps through the first few days of training camp, with both Kevin Jones and Garrett Wolfe getting a decent amount of work Saturday with the first-string offense. It's just fine for Bears fans to be excited about a fully-healthy Jones since he was once an elite back in this league, but they would be wise to temper said excitement when it comes to Wolfe since he has looked great in the past only when there's no contact involved – he might be unemployed if he weren't such a good special-teams tackler. ...
On the surface, it's easy to understand why Zack Bowman is getting so much love at cornerback, with the injury to Charles Tillman putting the entire secondary in flux at the outset of training camp – he's more of an athlete than Corey Graham will ever be. But Bowman made a case for being a permanent fixture in the team's starting lineup Saturday, running stride for stride with Hester on a post pattern and leaping up to make an impressive interception even though the ball was delivered on time and on target. It's somewhat bizarre that Graham got all the action in 2008 after fellow rookie Trumaine McBride played well in '07, just like Graham earned headlines this past season but is now being pushed aside in favor of Bowman. ...
As far as the rookie wide receivers are concerned, fifth rounder Johnny Knox continues to catch a lot of balls with the second-team offense and may get more of a chance with the starting unit before long. After catching a curl from Hanie over the middle, Knox made a serious stop-and-go move following a grab in front of Marcus Hamilton that elicited all kinds of "oohs" and "aahs" from the faithful on hand for the evening. Before that, fellow rookie Juaquin Iglesias just was not as impressive and didn't help himself with a somewhat shaky Day-2 performance, dropping a pair of quite catchable passes during positional drills and failing to make a dent in either 7-on-7 or 11-on-11. ...
The defensive line had a sensational showing, with three-time Pro Bowler Tommie Harris in particular seeing a lot of time in Saturday's second practice at the three-technique tackle spot, as opposed to minicamp and OTAs when he didn't get a single rep. Israel Idonije continues to be one of the more versatile contributors on the roster, switching back and forth between D-end and D-tackle depending on a variety of factors – the activity of Harris being one of them. With Mark Anderson looking more and more like a one-trick pony with his predictable spin move, it's time to come up with an alternative when starters Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye need a breather.
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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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