Training Camp Report: Day 8

The Monsters of the Midway are looking for help at wide receiver, but some of the lesser-known names currently on the roster are doing great. There were also plenty of turnovers Friday because of the rain. Bear Report had a front-row seat at Chicago Bears training camp and made these observations ...

Pick Six
On a soggy day in Bourbonnais that wreaked havoc on the passing game from start to finish, Jay Cutler made some big plays at first but struggled down the stretch. Cutler finished 8-of-12 during 7-on-7 drills, highlighted by three touchdown passes in a six-play series in the red zone – Desmond Clark caught the first two, Greg Olsen got the third. Despite the fact that he completed just 7 of 13 passes in 11-on-11, he kept finding Brandon Rideau deep downfield for big gainers. It was Brett Basanez's day to run the second-team offense, and he turned in a 9-of-12 performance that included not one but two fumbled snaps. Caleb Hanie took care of the third string and was also 9-of-12, with his best throw of the day being a bullet of a deep slant to Johnny Knox. ...

There were all kinds of turnovers being committed by the offense with the dreary weather obviously a factor, starting with Danieal Manning stripping Rideau of the football after reeling in a shallow hook from Cutler. There were two interceptions on the day: the first on a pass from Basanez to Juaquin Iglesias that was tipped by the receiver and ended up in the hands of Woodny Turenne, and the second on a throw from Hanie to Michael Gaines in the red zone that was batted around before being hauled in by Josh Bullocks. Basanez almost threw another pick but Kevin Malast couldn't hold on, and Hanie escaped an additional INT when Craig Steltz came up just short on a diving attempt. ...

It was a good day to check out how the offensive and defensive lines were doing against each other, especially since coach Lovie Smith actually allowed tackling to the ground in 3rd-and-short drills. Alex Brown was able to get past Orlando Pace with a quick move to the inside on more than one occasion, and Mark Anderson blasted Kevin Jones in the backfield for a loss after slipping by Chris Williams – Anderson and Williams had gotten into a shoving match only a few snaps before. Rideau made another big play when Cutler sold a play-action fake, then dropped a beauty of a fade over the head of Nathan Vasher and into the streaking wideout's hands down the left sideline. ...

Just as the offensive play calls are beginning to get a little more complex, the defense is throwing more curveballs the last few days. Turenne got good pressure one time on a corner blitz, and Lance Briggs totally destroyed a play by timing his rush straight up the middle perfectly – Cutler put the ball on the ground because he was unable to field the snap cleanly due to Briggs being all over him. However, in terms of the alignment and personnel on the field defensively, this is still a straight 4-3 with the exception of the nickel package, so don't expect any 3-4 looks or dime defenses any time soon. ...


Rideau made a lot of catches downfield Friday.
Warren Wimmer Photography

With Devin Hester being given the day off since Friday was the seventh straight practice outfitted in full pads, many of the lesser-known wide receivers had an opportunity to get an inordinate amount of snaps with the first-team offense. Rashied Davis got the "start" during both 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 but didn't make a single reception until the last series of the day, while no-names like Rideau and Devin Aromashodu kept getting open and kept making catches. It might be time to take Aromashodu seriously because his number is being called fairly frequently these days. ...

Some officials attended the practice and threw flags when they were necessary, as the zebras are also in full preseason mode and looking to get sharp before Week 1. Jarron Gilbert was whistled for an offside penalty during 11-on-11 drills because Cutler did a good job mixing up the snap count. By the end of the day, it was sloppy enough that Basanez fumbled away a snap that was recovered by Ervin Baldwin and Hanie fell in the pocket to gift-wrap a sack for Henry Melton. ...

And you may have heard on local radio that yours truly was credited with an INT Friday, as Cutler airmailed an out pattern toward the left sideline right to me as I was taking notes – one fan even suggested afterward that I make the roster ahead of Davis since I made a clean catch.

Injury Report
Charles Tillman and Zack Bowman were spectators once again, Tillman with the back problem and Bowman with the bad hammy. Hunter Hillenmeyer continues to rest what is believed to be some sort of calf issue. With the weather being what it was, the coaching staff decided not to take any chances and held out both Hester and Tommie Harris.

Stud of the Day
No question about it, Rideau was the best player on the field Friday and looks to have not only locked up a spot on the roster but a chance to get significant playing time. He's a tremendous target at 6-3 and 198 pounds, and he was giving both Vasher and Trumaine McBride fits all day long. Rideau reeled in three long passes, so members of the press couldn't wait to mob him once the final horn sounded.

Dud of the Day
Even though he has made some big plays in the past, goes hard on special teams and is a stand-up guy in the locker room, it's time for Davis to start wondering if he has a future in the Windy City. Not only is he not being targeted very often, but he's simply not making enough catches whether it's with the first- or second-team O. Meanwhile, Rideau, Aromashodu and rookies Iglesias and Knox keep putting quality plays on film.

Quote to Note
"This year, I want to try to be more complete about my game. I've just been working hard in the weight room, off the field, just trying to get a little stronger so I'm going to be able to hold up against the run, too." – DE Mark Anderson on becoming more than a pass rusher this season.


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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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