Training Camp Report: Day 19

We give out a Stud of the Day and a Dud of the Day following every practice in Bourbonnais. Fans will be ecstatic to hear who got Stud honors Tuesday. As for the Dud, those same fans will not be happy. Bear Report had a front-row seat at Chicago Bears training camp and made these observations ...

Pick Six
With word sweeping through Bourbonnais that Brett Favre had signed Tuesday with the Vikings and would therefore be facing the Bears twice a year again, Jay Cutler couldn't have picked a better day to have a terrible practice – there was no danger of his pitiful performance ending up on Page 1 of the local sports section. Cutler started off decent enough by hitting 9 of 12 passes during 7-on-7 drills, highlighted by a pair of quickies to Devin Hester on the first two snaps. But then he was a dreadful 8-of-21 in 11-on-11 action, and it wasn't just how bad it looked to those in attendance, but it was the "I don't care" body language he put on display. No. 6 simply went through the motions, seemingly indifferent to everyone and everything around him. Caleb Hanie continued his strong play with the second unit by connecting on 14 of 16 throws, while Brett Basanez was an uninspiring 5-of-8. ...

Although he's never been much of a highlight reel-worthy playmaker, Lance Briggs seems to be finding the football much more often than he has in recent training camps. It's hard to appreciate Briggs in Bourbonnais since his bread and butter is being a money open-field tackler, an attribute he doesn't get to put on display since coach Lovie Smith allows almost zero full-contact work to take place, but all of a sudden Briggs is starting to make the kind of plays that made Brian Urlacher an annual candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. Tuesday alone, Briggs broke up a throw over the middle to Greg Olsen, knocked away and then intercepted another between-the-numbers ball to Desmond Clark and almost picked off a second pass he batted down after coming on a blitz. ...

For some reason, the offensive line got a bit of a shakeup Tuesday and took on a different look than what we've been used to thus far in training camp. With future Hall of Famer Orlando Pace not participating, Chris Williams lined up at left tackle in both 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 and Kevin Shaffer was at right tackle – Josh Beekman was the center with Olin Kreutz taking the day off entirely. The plan when camp started was for Williams to get as much work at right tackle as possible since Pace signed with Chicago in part because he could stay at left tackle, so this move was a curious one to say the least even if just for a day. ...

A lot of pressure is being put on the front four to develop a more consistent pass rush and give the secondary a better chance to hold tight in coverage, and Tuesday was a very good day for both the ends and tackles getting after the quarterback. While it may be difficult to tell exactly what is and what isn't considered a sack since the rushers have to pull up once they get the passer in sight, Cutler, Hanie and Basanez all would have gone down once or twice in team drills. Ervin Baldwin got to Hanie during 11-on-11 action, and then Anthony Adams may have killed the two-minute drive at the end of practice by taking down Cutler right up the middle. ...


Cutler had a terrible Tuesday throwing the ball.
Warren Wimmer Photography

For all you fantasy football players out there looking for a reliable kicker to start on a weekly basis, you could do a lot worse than Robbie Gould. The former Pro Bowler looks as good as ever in Bourbonnais, splitting the uprights with ease twice during the two-minute drill – the first from 39 yards, the second from 28. He has taken some heat for never having made a field goal from 50 yards or longer in a game that mattered, but you have to remember Smith is an overly-conservative coach that takes field position very seriously, so the fact that Gould split the uprights from 50 this past Saturday in Buffalo should lead to a few more long-range opportunities in 2009. ...

Fans can't wait for Charles Tillman and Zack Bowman to get back on the field, and both of them are getting close since they spent Tuesday dressed in full pads and doing some light work on the sideline. Some of the reserves have taken the increased reps and done quite well, like Woodny Turenne earlier in training camp and Trumaine McBride the last few days. Nathan Vasher, however, just doesn't look like he has what it takes anymore and isn't making anybody's practice notes except to point out that he's giving up a lot of receptions.

Injury Report
As previously mentioned, Tillman and Bowman are both working hard at getting back and should return soon. Danieal Manning, Nick Roach and Matt Toeaina continued to be nothing more than observers. Pace and Kreutz each received what looked to be a veteran day off because of "general soreness." Kevin Jones and Kellen Davis were also scratched from Tuesday's activities.

Stud of the Day
Briggs was all over the field. He could be on the verge of his most productive season to date. On the verge of his 29th birthday, fresh off four straight Pro Bowls and at his physical peak, Briggs has been terrific in training camp from start to finish.

Dud of the Day
Cutler, and it's not even close. Under no circumstances should a quarterback with his ability complete only 17 of 33 passes in any practice, no matter how well the defense may be playing on that particular day. It is way too early in the Cutler era to be overly concerned since Tuesday was only one training camp workout, but the lackadaisical effort is something Bears fans may have to learn to live with from time to time.

Quote to Note
"It wasn't good enough for the offense. If you have to put a won-lost on it, the defense won today. We were able to come back strong toward the end of practice, but for most of the day, I think, the defense got the best of us." – TE Desmond Clark when asked to characterize Tuesday's practice for the offense.


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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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