Training Camp Report: Day 13

Fans can't get enough of the Wildcat formation, and both Matt Forte and Devin Hester lined up in the QB position Wednesday in Bourbonnais. What gadgets will Ron Turner have up his sleeve for them in '09? Bear Report had a front-row seat at Chicago Bears training camp and made these observations ...

Pick Six
After a spirited practice under the Ward Field lights the evening before, Wednesday was more of a lethargic effort on both sides of the football and didn't feature many big plays offensively or defensively. Jay Cutler put together somewhat of a lackluster performance, completing 7 of 12 passes in 7-on-7 drills and then 8 of 13 in 11-on-11. He missed both Greg Olsen and Devin Hester on deep balls early in the workout, although he did hook up with Hester later in the day by simply firing the ball high over Nathan Vasher and letting his speedy receiver make a Willie Mays-style catch. Coach Lovie Smith's depth chart says Caleb Hanie is firmly entrenched as the backup quarterback, even though it's plain to see that Brett Basanez is improving and still getting second-team reps every other day. Basanez was 10-of-14 on the afternoon, while Hanie was only 6-of-12. ...

It's officially time for Bears fans to start worrying when it comes to Zack Bowman, who was stealing headlines in training camp before coming up lame with a strained hamstring. It appeared Bowman was getting close to returning, especially since he dressed in full pads for Saturday's Family Day practice at Soldier Field, but he's just been wearing a jersey and a baseball cap on the sideline the last few days – that would lead one to believe he's had some sort of setback in his rehab. He was on pace to unseat Vasher as the starter at right cornerback opposite Charles Tillman, although that plan could be thrown out the window now since Vasher has been on the field for every first-team rep. ...

Smith made a bit of a mockery of his depth chart that was released Tuesday evening, listing co-starters at several positions and refusing to let the media know who has the edge at spots like strong-side linebacker and nose tackle. That was not the case at left guard, however, as Josh Beekman was alone at the top with Frank Omiyale clearly second on the list. After giving way to Omiyale for a few days, Beekman was back in the starting lineup Wednesday and looks to have the inside track at keeping his job between Olin Kreutz and Orlando Pace – birds are chirping in Bourbonnais that Omiyale's transition inside isn't going so well. ...

One of those aforementioned co-starter situations surprisingly is at defensive end, where Mark Anderson is listed atop the depth chart on both the right and left side beside Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye, respectively. Not known for his ability to hold up against the run, Anderson still has an explosive first step when rushing the passer and can be effective when he's one-on-one with an offensive tackle out in space. But Bears fans should be more encouraged by the fact that he knocked down a Cutler screen pass intended for Kellen Davis in 11-on-11 work, which means he's learning to be disruptive even when not in a position to sack the QB. ...


Basanez continues to show signs of improving.
Getty Images: Jonathan Daniel

Offensive coordinator Ron Turner was stirring the cauldron again Wednesday, displaying a variety of Wildcat-formation looks with both Hester and Matt Forte taking the shotgun snap from center. Hester's one play was nothing more than a fake inside give to Forte before taking off around right end on a keeper. Forte's, on the other hand, was a roll to the right and then a throw to Hester running a short curl route. ...

There was one interception recorded Wednesday, as Marcus Hamilton got a gift from Hanie after Juaquin Iglesias ran the wrong pattern – Iglesias was running a fly down the sideline, Hanie threw a quick out. But just because the defense wasn't picking off passes doesn't mean there weren't a lot of potential turnovers, mostly because linebackers and defensive backs alike were forcing fumbles from ball carriers most of the afternoon. First Kevin Malast knocked one loose from Garrett Wolfe, and then Vasher picked Earl Bennett's pocket along the left sideline.

Injury Report
Look for recent free agent signee J.J. Milan to be the long snapper in the preseason opener Saturday at Buffalo, because Patrick Mannelly continues to sit out on the sideline. After a terrific evening Tuesday, Danieal Manning's hamstring tightened up again Wednesday and prevented him from participating at all. Aside from Tillman and Bowman, you can expect Jamar Williams to skip the Bills game as well with his shoulder injury.

Stud of the Day
Ever since he was the runner-up for Defensive Rookie of the Year in the Super Bowl campaign of 2006, Anderson has been a tremendous disappointment. He failed miserably in '07 when unjustly forced into the starting lineup ahead of Brown, and he was even worse in '08 despite being switched back to his comfort zone as the pass-rushing specialist off the bench. But Anderson continues to display signs of improvement heading into the final year of his contract, and he showed Wednesday why some feel he's overdue for a bounce-back 2009.

Dud of the Day
Iglesias has been better the second week of practice than he was the first, when fellow rookie pass catcher Johnny Knox was doing more to get noticed by coaches and fans alike. But Wednesday, Iglesias caused the only INT of the day when he had a miscommunication problem with Hanie. And then earlier in 7-on-7 drills, he dropped a perfectly-thrown ball from Hanie that hit him right between the "1" and "7."

Quote to Note
"If they don't ask me, I'm going to tell them. But Ron and I have been on the same page, and we know where we want to go with this group." – QB Jay Cutler when asked if he has any say in who eventually makes the 53-man roster.


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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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