Training Camp Report: Day 18

Now that the preseason opener is in the rearview mirror, the Midway Monsters have a much better idea what they need to work on the rest of the way. Which of the Windy City QBs was perfect Monday? Bear Report had a front-row seat at Chicago Bears training camp and made these observations ...

Pick Six
Even with some members of the Windy City media making a mountain out of a molehill with regard to his performance – and even more so his postgame comments – in the preseason opener this past Saturday at Buffalo, Jay Cutler seemed unfazed Monday as he went back to work. He started off hitting 8 of 12 passes during 7-on-7 drills, connecting with Devin Hester deep down the seam on the very first snap of the day. In 11-on-11 action, he hooked up with both Brandon Rideau and Earl Bennett on long fade patterns down the right sideline, the first one to Rideau on an audible and the second one to Bennett providing a highlight reel-worthy catch. There was news with regard to the backup quarterbacks, as Caleb Hanie is now getting more reps than Brett Basanez instead of splitting them 50-50. That's understandable since Hanie was terrific against the Bills while Basanez threw three interceptions, so Hanie went 17-of-18 with the extra work and Basanez was 7-of-7 in limited activity. ...

The D-line must put more pressure on the enemy passer in 2009 if this defense is going to return to its once-dominant form, and we saw glimpses of improvement Saturday night in Buffalo. That improvement continued Tuesday in Bourbonnais, with Adewale Ogunleye not once but twice batting down a Cutler pass at the line of scrimmage. Toward the end of 11-on-11, Alex Brown again showed that he defends the screen as well as any defensive end in the league, leaping high to snare a lob from Cutler to Forte for an incredibly athletic interception. ...

If last year is any indication what's going to happen with the depth chart this year, then look for newcomer Frank Omiyale to emerge as the starter at left guard over incumbent Josh Beekman. With Beekman taking the majority of the first-team snaps in training camp, it was somewhat of a surprise to see Omiyale get the starting nod against the Bills. Remember, the coaching staff told fans and media alike not to read too much into Kyle Orton getting the start in the preseason opener this past year, yet there he was under center in Week 1 with Rex Grossman holding a clipboard on the sideline – despite the fact that Grossman had a better camp overall. ...

It's difficult to fully explain just how much Danieal Manning's absence is hurting this team right now, which is a little scary since the former Abilene Christian Wildcat has provided Bears fans with much more heartbreak than jubilation over the course of his career thus far. Not only is his inactivity being felt on defense because there isn't a pure free safety capable of stepping into the starting lineup, but the kickoff-return team isn't functioning properly in Bourbonnais with him on the sideline. Garrett Wolfe is better suited as an upback than a return man, and even if the two draft picks, Johnny Knox and Juaquin Iglesias, both had a big return Saturday against the Bills, neither looks particularly comfortable in that role. ...


Hanie shined as the unquestioned No. 2 passer.
Warren Wimmer Photography

It was peculiar to see both Rideau and Devin Aromashodu get so little time with the first-team offense in the preseason opener, especially since Cutler appears to have an affinity for bigger receiving targets, has mentioned repeatedly he likes what those two bring to the table and Greg Olsen was in street clothes. Aromashodu once again looked very good Monday, so he has to be considered a serious threat to make the 53-man roster at this point. In the span of three plays, he made a beautiful tap-tap with his feet on the left sideline to reel in a deep out from Cutler, and then he went up and over the corner-safety combination of Woodny Turenne and Craig Steltz to come down with an underthrown fly pattern from Hanie. ...

The time off seems to have done him a lot of good, as Tommie Harris got more work Monday during team drills than he has in recent memory. He was especially strong during 9-on-9 action, knifing into the backfield on more than one occasion and making contact with the ball carrier before the line of scrimmage. You're still going to see a good amount of Israel Idonije and rookie Jarron Gilbert at the three-technique D-tackle position, but Harris is probably going to be in there in running situations before trotting off the field in the nickel package.

Injury Report
Both Charles Tillman and Zack Bowman are making progress and could be back soon, although Tillman is a little further away – Bowman may return to the practice field for team drills in the next day or two. After sitting out Saturday's preseason game, Manning and Patrick Mannelly are still on the mend. Coach Lovie Smith said after practice that Nick Roach and Matt Toeaina each sustained a minor concussion in Buffalo, which helps explain why Pisa Tinoisamoa got extended playing time at strong-side linebacker against the Bills.

Studs of the Day
There were several notable performances Monday at ONU, but it was Hanie and Aromashodu really standing out from the crowd. Aside from Bennett's grab on that fade pattern, Aromashodu might have made the two best catches of the day – and he did it from two different quarterbacks. Hanie's 17-of-18 was fun to watch, so general manager Jerry Angelo can feel free to take Brian Griese's name out of his Rolodex.

Dud of the Day
If there is a candidate to be one of the first cuts when the team has to drop down initially from 80 to 75 players, John Broussard has to be considered. He repeatedly drops the ball, doing so Monday on a perfect pass that hit him right between the "1" and "5" in positional drills. And since he can't catch the ball routinely in said positional drills, he's never on the field in team work unless it's time third-string mop-up duty.

Quote to Note
"I'm just out there trying to make plays. I feel like last Saturday night's game, we should have made some plays that we didn't. So we just try to come back out here, re-focus and make plays." – WR Earl Bennett on returning to training camp after the preseason opener.


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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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