Training Camp Report: Day 7

Even though the offense has been getting most of the attention thus far, the defense put its collective foot down Thursday. Two DBs battling for jobs got spectacular INTs in team drills. Bear Report had a front-row seat at Chicago Bears training camp and made these observations ...

Pick Six
While most everyone in Bourbonnais – media and fans – has been concentrating on the offense throughout training camp, Thursday's evening session was a statement by the defense and perhaps an indication this can be a top-10 unit again. Jay Cutler completed only 21 of the 32 passes he attempted, although he was a very impressive 5-of-7 running the two-minute drill and got a 25-yard field goal from Robbie Gould. Twice Cutler fired deep down the field for Greg Olsen after the tight end ran a double move, but both times the ball was well overthrown. Caleb Hanie was having a decent practice, completing 7 of his first 10 throws, although he took the offense nowhere with a 1-of-4 in the two-minute drill. While Brett Basanez was pretty average out there on a 6-of-11 effort, he anticipated Devin Aromashodu coming open on a deep corner route and hit him perfectly in stride along the left sideline. ...

Thursday was a good night to check out the balance of the depth chart at safety, as both Kevin Payne and Danieal Manning failed to participate because of minor aches and pains. Free agent signee Josh Bullocks got considerable time with the starting defense for the first time in training camp, and rookie Al Afalava was also in the mix in both 7-on-7 and 11-on-11. Bullocks came up with one of the highlight plays of the evening, intercepting a bomb down the left sideline intended for Devin Hester – Cutler never should have let it loose because Nathan Vasher was also in Hester's kitchen on the play. ...

It's officially time for Bears fans to get excited about Kevin Jones. Sure, Matt Forte is already one of the elite backs in this league and could threaten the 1,500-yard mark on the ground this year if he's healthy, but Jones came back to Chicago as a free agent in part because he was promised a bigger role on offense. That looks to be the case, as the former first-round draft pick ripped off several impressive runs, including a blast-off down the right sideline that he took all the way to the house to the delight of the 8,000 or so in attendance at Ward Field. ...

Not only was the depth chart at safety severely challenged Thursday, but several of the second and third corners are getting considerable snaps because of the injuries to Charles Tillman and Zack Bowman. Corey Graham and Trumaine McBride are being noticed, each drawing praise from coach Lovie Smith after practice, although fourth rounder D.J. Moore got no such praise – Smith said Moore needs to take better advantage of the opportunity he's been given. Undrafted rookie free agent Woodny Turenne made yet another big play, running stride for stride with speedster Johnny Knox and picking off Hanie's pass deep down the left sideline. ...


Baldwin recorded a sack in the two-minute drill.
Warren Wimmer Photography

With Orlando Pace happy to sit out the majority of Thursday's workout, free agent addition Kevin Shaffer got all the first-team reps at left tackle. That kept Chris Williams at right tackle, although one would assume Williams slides over to left tackle in case anything happens to Pace this season. Shaffer is better suited to play the right side since he's known to be more of a run blocker, so having him protect the passer's blind side may be risky. ...

Top draft pick Jarron Gilbert has been on the field much more frequently the last few practices, which is a good sign for a player with a lot of natural ability but also fighting a veteran depth chart for snaps. He got some time with the starting defense at the three-technique tackle position, which should come as no big surprise since Tommie Harris is never in the huddle for more than a play or two before a substitute takes his place. Gilbert also switched him number from 73 to 90, so remember to make that change if you're keeping score at home.

Injury Report
Tillman and Bowman continue to rest their aching back and hamstring, respectively, and while we knew Tillman would be gone for a while, perhaps Bowman's absence will be longer than the organization would like fans to believe – he was moving quite gingerly on the sideline. In addition to Payne and Manning getting the evening off, Hunter Hillenmeyer was a spectator. That's not a good sign for him since his roster spot hangs in the balance right now.

Studs of the Day
Bullocks was doing no better than third-team reps earlier in training camp, but he's starting to get some playing time with the starters at free safety all of a sudden. Even if it's only due to the fact that Manning isn't 100 percent and Craig Steltz belongs at strong safety, that INT he made Thursday was a beauty of a play. And this is going to make most of the Bear Report readers very happy: Ervin Baldwin had his best practice in Bourbonnais, batting down a Hanie pass at the line of scrimmage and then recording a sack on the same two-minute drill series.

Dud of the Day
Now we have a better idea why the front office felt the need to sign journeyman backup center Donovan Raiola before Thursday's practice. Tyler Reed is nothing short of terrible with his shotgun snaps. He was all over the place and made it much harder on both Hanie and Basanez most of the night.

Quote to Note
"Not that different at all. At receiver, whether it's middle school or high school or whatever league you're in, there's only so many routes. It's just the speed of the game that changes and the terminology that it's called." – WR Juaquin Iglesias when asked if there's a difference in the routes he's running from college to the pros.


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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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